Dana Holgorsen sat down with the media on Monday for Big 12 Media Days, and with very little intro, he got right into it.
“I’m obviously excited about the upcoming year. If any of the coaches come up here and say they’re not excited and optimistic, they’re pulling your leg. In particular, going into our fourth year, I feel pretty confident, pretty comfortable with our team.” Dana said before taking questions
On West Virginia’s Defense
Right now West Virginia isn’t getting a lot of attention from the college football pundits. Flying under the radar, they have the talent and the opportunity to surprise a few folks come November. However, if they want to contend for the Big 12, the defense has to show improvement.
“Without a doubt, it should be the best that I’ve had potentially since I started coaching 20-some years ago. I’ve just got guys that have a bunch of experience.
“When we came into this league three years ago, everybody remembers Geno Smith and Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey, but I doubt you could name another person, especially anybody on defense. Just guys that have been in three and four years, even going into their fifth year, guys have been there and they’ve played a bunch.
“We’ve got a lot of guys that are starters and backups. I’m not going to sit here and apologize for where we’re at defensively. From a coaching staff perspective, we’re in a different place as well. Tony Gibson has done a great job. He brought a scheme that he believes in and I believe in, knows how to coach it.”
On Skyler Howard & The QB Position
West Virginia is one of several Big 12 teams trying to figure out who’s going to be taking snaps under center this fall. For coach Holgorsen the answer is whoever can take care of the ball.
“I think the number one thing that we got to talk about when it comes to the quarterback position is he’s taking care of the football. He did play in 2 1/2 games last year and didn’t throw a pick, had one fumble he learned a lesson from. We’re going to use our quarterbacks in the run game a little bit more. We did last year for 2 1/2 games, which is going to put a little burden on him when it comes to ball security.
“Everybody talks to the quarterback position about taking care of the ball when he’s throwing it, but you’ve got to take care of the ball in the pocket, and you’ve got to take care of the ball when you tuck it and head downfield as well.
“Whoever that guy is for us is going to be the guy that can take care of the ball more than anything. We were 120th in turnover margin last year. We felt like we could have — we know we would have put ourselves in position to win the conference if we’d have done a better job of taking care of the ball.”
Coach Holgo is known as an offensive genius, and in a follow up question he was asked about how a more mobile QB could change the offense.
“Yeah, I can’t be too specific. There’s people watching. Different personnel groupings is important. Us personally, we go back — this league is so similar with what we do offensively. There’s so much carryover from guys that I’ve coached or guys that I’ve coached with or whatever it is to the point to where we’ve got to do different things to change to keep people off balance.”
On the loss of Receivers Mario Alford and Kevin White
Alford and White have moved on to the NFL leaving big shoes to fill on the outside for the Mountaineers. Dana doesn’t seem to concerned about it though.
“Just got to coach them up. No one knew who knows guys were a year ago. We weren’t really talking about those guys a year ago. We’re going to coach up the guys we’ve got.
“We’re in a much better place than we were two years ago when we lost 99 percent of our receiving production.”
On Big 12’s New Rule Limiting Contact To Just Two Days A Week
When conference commissioner Bob Bowlsby opened up Big 12 Media Days he announced a new conference rule that will limit the number of contact days to just twice a week. One fewer than the NCAA allows. It’s been a hot topic all day, but like other coaches have indicated, Holgorsen isn’t worried about it. It won’t change what they do.
“It’s a model that I’ve been following for the past four years. It’s not going to restrict our practice time whatsoever. We haven’t had a two-a-day at West Virginia in four years, haven’t had — really actually haven’t had back-to-back full contact days in quite some time.”
“It’s obviously an issue. And Clint was a great player for us and just unfortunately kind of took too many hits there towards the end. But that’s just part of the game, and that’s why he’s coaching right now too.
“It’s something that coaches are incredibly hands off on. It’s 100 percent in the doctors’ hands, and whatever they decide, we’ve got to support. That’s just the way it’s going to be.”