MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – West Virginia University football coach Dana Holgorsen addressed members of the media on Wednesday, Aug. 9, 2017, at the Milan Puskar Center Team Room.
Practice 10 this afternoon. Full practice, we have a lot we have to do this afternoon. Looking forward to getting out there. We do a lot of red zone stuff, a lot of two-point stuff, a lot of two-minute stuff, a lot of situational stuff, which I’m excited about. We have a long ways to go. We are on practice 10. We are a third of the way there, but we still have three and a half weeks. So there is going to be a lot of downtime moving forward as well. The guys are in a good spot and practicing hard. We will back off of them tomorrow after a long week. Friday at noon, which is going to change the media schedule slightly, but Friday at noon we will scrimmage and try to get 100-play scrimmage in on Friday. After that, there is probably two more full practices and scrimmages and that’s about it before we start getting into school and mock week and game week and all that. Still worried about us this week, still worried about us next week and then we will get into Virginia Tech and try to get into a routine the following two weeks. Other than that not a whole lot of updates, honestly. I will answer your first question; (redshirt senior safety) Marvin Gross (Jr.) and (redshirt senior cornerback) Corey Winfield
had successful surgeries, they will be out for a couple of weeks. Expecting them to be back quick. Other than that, (redshirt sophomore linebacker) David Long (Jr.) and (redshirt freshman offensive lineman) (Jacob) Buccigrossi are progressing nicely. I don’t have an exact day of when they will come back but they are progressing nicely.
On how you can improve in the red zone
I said this a lot last year, we settled for too many field goals the last two years. Our run game, down there I thought has been good. Our pass game down there has not been good. Skyler (Howard), his strength was not sitting in the pocket and throwing balls into very, very tight spaces. Which in the red zone, the closer you get, the tighter the spaces, the tighter the coverage is. I don’t think we have had a dominant receiver inside the 10 either. Kevin (White) was, Stedman (Bailey) was. We haven’t had that guy. Do we have it now? I like what I see out of (redshirt senior wide receiver) Ka’Raun (White) and (junior wide receiver) Gary (Jennings Jr.) and (junior wide receiver) David (Sills V) because they are bigger guys and they can make catches when they have people all over them. Because you are going to be covered, there is going to be tight space. (Redshirt junior quarterback) Will (Grier) is pretty good in tight spaces as well. A lot of practice and then personnel has something to do with that as well. I expect our run game to continue to be like it was, but we have to get a little better in the pass game down there. Working a lot on field goals. Field goals are obviously part of the game. We need to get more touchdowns down there.
In one-on-one’s he has shown some flashes. In one-on-one’s down in the red zone he has shown some flashes of being able to make some plays when he is covered. That has to start translating into 11-on-11 and it hasn’t yet. He is still relatively raw. He has a redshirt and two year, he hasn’t played a lot of ball. He just needs to continue to work hard and get better. I haven’t seen it in 11-on-11. Until I see it in 11-on-11 he is not going to be playing on Saturday. There is more to it than just being 6-5. There is technique, there is strength, a lot of things that can go into it. 6-5 helps.
On if he likes the receivers’ technique
I do. (Assistant coach (receivers) (Tyron) Carrier does a really good job with that. He does a real good job on staying on the guys as far as using their hands and position in their feet and space. I still don’t think we are where we need to be from a timing perspective when it comes to the top-four guys, which I have mentioned, plus (sophomore running back) Kennedy (McKoy). I would put Kennedy in that equation because he is a very multipurpose back. You have seen what he can do in the backfield; you probably haven’t seen a lot of what he can do in the slot, like we did with Wendell (Smallwood), when Wendell was a sophomore. He does a fine job of that, so we are trying to get him in the mix. The timing aspect of it, ‘m not real comfortable with. The technique aspect of it, those guys, I am very pleased with. I think Tyron has done a good job at that. Still need backup receivers to emerge. Haven’t seen that yet. The likes of (redshirt freshman wide receiver) Druw Bowen
and (redshirt junior wide receiver) Will Crest (Jr.) and (junior wide receiver) (Dominique) Dom Maiden and (freshman wide receiver) Reggie (Roberson Jr.) and (redshirt junior wide receiver) Ricky Rogers
, I haven’t seen those guys push the starters yet like I was hoping they would.
On if junior offensive lineman Isaiah Hardy is in camp yet
He will be here the first day of school. We didn’t really rush him. If we would’ve rushed him we could have probably brought him a little earlier. For an o-lineman that shows up now. It was hard for Rasul (Douglas) at corner to show up mid-camp and get snaps out of him. Could you imagine what it is like for an o-lineman? It is impossible. He has a redshirt and two years. We are anticipating him showing up when school starts and spending a year and learning how things go and getting in shape. He has a lot of work to do moving forward.
On if junior offensive lineman Isaiah Hardy will play tackle or guard
I don’t know. He is huge. I don’t know, I don’t care. Didn’t care about Mark Glowinski either when he got here at this time. That’s who (Lackawanna College head coach) (Mark) Duda compares him to a little bit. He is a guy that will be an o-line developmental guy. We need some linemen, I wish we could have a guy show up and be able to slide him in there. That is not reality, ever for that spot.
On if he has seen the players being lethargic during camp
In spurts when we are not going live. We have had two uppers practices when it is all controlled. I have seen some lethargic play. They have always came back from that and played juiced up when it counts.
On how good this team could be
I don’t know yet. We have guys that have talent, but everybody that we play has guys that have talent. The talent aspect of it is on par for what we have had the last couple of years. I’m still working through the chemistry aspect of it. That is what wins games. I think that we will have a couple of guys that will get drafted and have an opportunity to play at the next level like we have had for the last four years, five years, six years, since I have been here I guess. A handful here, a handful there, as much as anybody in the Big 12, but that just doesn’t win games. Everybody has good players. There is a coaching aspect of it; there is a chemistry aspect of it; there is a little luck that goes into it; you have to have the ball bounce your way a little bit. You have to expect good things to happen. Make your own luck, that sort of thing. I like the team’s chemistry right now, but how is the team going to go when there is adversity? I don’t know yet. Haven’t hit that yet, we will quick.
On what his concerns are along the offensive line
Just depth more than anything; just trying to bring backups along. (Redshirt junior offensive lineman) Yodny (Cajuste) is doing well, (redshirt sophomore offensive lineman) Colton (McKivitz) is doing well, (redshirt sophomore offensive lineman) Matt Jones
is snapping the ball well and needs to continue to improve. A couple of our older guards that think they have the answers a lot need to practice like the rest of them. Then, there’s the developmental guys that need to come on. (Redshirt sophomore offensive lineman) Kelby (Wickline) is still young and needs to come on. (Redshirt junior offensive lineman Ray) Raulerson needs to be a backup center, we’re going to get (redshirt freshman offensive lineman Jacob) Buccigrossi back at center and they need to continue to improve. (Redshirt freshman offensive lineman) Chase (Behrndt) and (redshirt freshman offensive lineman Josh) Sills – the backups are where my concern lies probably more than anything. They need to improve and be ready to go when we need them to go.
On if he has noticed a difference with the team’s new analysts so far
We don’t really have anything to self-scout at this point. We’re just installing and logging reps and teaching technique and all that. I’m probably going to send them to some NFL camps here in the next couple of weeks to just learn ball. The more knowledge they can absorb, they’re watching a lot of NFL tape. They’re obviously ahead. We have scouting reports on Virginia Tech, East Carolina and Delaware State right now. Where it’s really, really, really going to make a difference for our coaches is when they come in here on Sunday morning and they get the game over with on Sunday and have to turn the page and move on. That’s where it’s going to be awesome. Last year, I took five years off my life on Monday mornings trying to hurry up and catch up and get ahead on the opponent and figure out who they are, not just offensively but I had to know what was going on on special teams and defense as well. It was hard. To have these guys be able to sit down on Sunday night, I’ll go to bed on Sunday night where I would usually be probably Monday night from an information point of view. So, that’s just going to get us ahead and get us moving on to game planning and preparing for Tuesdays. It’s going to be important. I don’t see a huge impact right now, but once game week hits, it’s going to be big.
On if he’s big on football analytics
I like it when the infield is over by second base and they move that shortstop all the way over and the second baseman is kind of out there in right field a little bit and the third baseman has the whole (side). That’s pretty good stuff. Oh, you’re talking about football? … A little bit. We study it and we have the numbers when it comes to whether you go for it, whether you should go for two, whether you should punt it. We have the numbers but it’s still a feel thing for me in football. You have to understand how the sideline is and how the kicker is and how your offense is doing and how the defense is playing. There are stats and percentages that we have and look at, but I’m not ready to turn it over to that. It’s not nearly like baseball is; I have studied baseball quite a bit like that and it’s very fascinating. I don’t know if it gets to the offense or defense or special teams aspect of it yet.
On if he’s hired an analytical service for this season
That’s why we hired an analyst, they’re our service. As opposed to paying $50,000 to get a service, we bought a human. Three of them.
On the good and bad of what he’s seen defensively in camp
A lot of depth on the defensive line, a lot of competition. That’s good. The same thing at corner – if you look at safeties, we have so much experience and at linebacker we have so much experience where everyone is like, ‘Well, corner and (defensive) line, we have a lot of people that are able to play.' So, there’s a lot of competition, which is good. But we’re anxiously awaiting some of these guys to step up and take control of those positions.
On when he’ll begin to make decisions on redshirts
Once we get scout teams involved, which we really aren’t going to do that until school starts when we have additional players coming in. Mock week is really when we do that. That whole mock week will be 100 percent scout teams, 100 percent game planning for Virginia Tech. That’s when we have to make those decisions. We’ll hit this scrimmage this Friday and then we have another scrimmage the following Friday or Saturday. After that scrimmage, we’ll be ready to make decisions.
On if he preferred to have a game before playing Virginia Tech
No, I like where it’s at. We’ve talked about these neutral site games, (Director of Athletics) Shane (Lyons) and I have talked about it a lot. That Alabama game, we had a chance to win and there was a lot of juice going into that game. We fell a little short, but even then, I felt like it gave us confidence going into game two and three. It’s great for the fan base, you guys all know how big it’s going to be. Our players really don’t quite know how big it’s going to be; we’re starting to give them some nuggets here and there about what to expect when it comes to that. The closer we get, the more information we’re going to give them. Every time I start to see tired faces or whatever when we start our meetings and all that, I remind them of what that first game is going to be. … I like a big first game. That gets you your mentality through summer, through camp. It keeps you motivated pretty quick. I think we have Tennessee game one in 2018 and Florida State game one in 2020. So, I’m all about it. I like the first game and the fan base being all excited that opening weekend. It’s great. Ticket sales are awesome, so I’m on-board with it.
On how he educates players and coaches about Virginia Tech
The players don’t know anything; it’s been since 2005. It’s our job each and every week is to educate our players on who their opponent is. We’ll start doing that once it’s closer. You have to be careful about overplaying an opponent for too long. You have to be careful about that. We’re careful about that in bowl games and I thought we’ve done a good job in the last six seasons. We’re 5-1 in openers and we played well in the one we lost. So, don’t overkill it, make sure you worry about you and get you to when you can start gradually introducing your opponent. They will know exactly what to expect. I think we have a good handle on that.
No update. No comment.