West Virginia Head Football Coach Dana Holgorsen addresses the media after Monday, Aug. 13, practice.
It was a pretty good day today. We had about 50 live snaps, which we will continue to do a whole bunch of individual drills and the practice format won’t change a lot, but we’re at the stage where we need to put the ball down and start playing. We’ll learn a lot about our team this week, but I still like the energy, the effort and the good attitude. They can’t get caught up in the grind of camp. They need to come in here every day, watch a whole bunch of film; we have such a long way to go before we play that first game. I like what I see from an attitude standpoint and now we just have to play a bunch of ball.
On where Will Clarke will play
We have two ends and one nose, which we can get down to a four-man front, or throw a couple of tackles in there, but he can do a lot of that stuff. He is one of the best pass rushers we have, so you’re going to want him at end a lot, but he’s gained weight, and he’s a strong guy to where if we needed him in a defensive tackle situation he could. He’s playing well and his attitude is great. He’s maturing; he’s becoming an upperclassman and a leader.
On younger safeties running with the first team
We have injuries right now. (Darwin) Cook has been hampered by a groin, and he’s day-to-day. (Matt) Moro’s been hampered by a hamstring, and he’s day-to-day. Those are two older guys we need to get out there. Karl Joseph finished the spring as the No. 1 safety; he’s a good football player. Having him in the spring has helped and with Cook being out, we put K.J. (Joseph) in. We put them in an up-tempo two minute session today and their heads started spinning. If we can’t handle tempo, it’s going to be a long season for us. Everybody needs tempo and the young guys, without the experience, that’s where it shows more than anywhere.
On the progress of the young cornerbacks
Avery (Williams) has been out a week, but we have two experienced guys in Pat (Miller) and Brodrick (Jenkins). In nickel packages and that stuff, you’re going to need younger guys. (Terrell) Chestnut is a freshman still, (Ricky) Rumph is playing well and Nana (Kyeremeh) has played well. The concern is the youth. I’ve said this from day one, we have a strange combination of a bunch of guys who have played a lot both offensively and defensively, and then a bunch of freshmen that need to play as well. We’re not going to consider the young guys young, they need to be ready to get out there and play just like the older kids can.
On if the up-tempo offense helps the defense
Our first team offense looked good today. You saw the No. 1’s march down and score and do it a couple of more drives later in the day. We have a lot of experience and their playing well, but our second team offense looks terrible. They look awful. That’s what we’re dealing with on offense where you put the second team in and you have a bunch of true freshmen. They don’t need to act like true freshmen, they need to get better. Defensively, it’s the same thing, but we’re not having to put a bunch of true freshmen in on the offensive side, we’re having to put freshmen in on the defensive side, and they need to keep getting better like our second team.
On having a tight end and some big guys on offense
If you look back at what we’ve done in the offense over the years, if we have those bodies, we use those bodies. Donovan Miles is getting better and better, he’s a bigger body. Ryan Clarke is doing some good things. Shawne (Alston) is a bigger back that you can put in there and cause some problems. Cody Clay is doing a good job taking over for what we did with Tyler Urban last year. Tyler was a better receiver, and we could also motion him around and put him in the backfield to get us into some bigger sets. We’re going to do a lot of that and it’s going to resemble a lot of power football out there. If you guys want to run with that one go ahead, I knew I’d get a chuckle out of somebody.
On where Geno Smith is today compared to last year
I don’t want to put too much pressure on him, he puts enough pressure on himself, but he has improved everything. His footwork is better, his arm strength is better, his quickness is better, his release is better, his accuracy is better, he’s really improved his game and it shows out there. He’s much more comfortable obviously in the second year of the offense. He is more comfortable from a mental standpoint. From a physical standpoint, he has improved himself.
On whether Tyler Orlosky and Adam Pankey are still playing well
No, they’re starting to spin a little bit; it’s catching up to them. Hopefully, we don’t have to play those guys. You want to be able to redshirt o-lineman, but those guys are physically up to speed. Mentally, it’s going to take some time. We’ll keep repping them, and we won’t talk about a redshirt situation here for the next few weeks.
On the guys who were close academically
I think we’re in the clear. It’s a miracle. It’s the first miracle of the year. A couple of guys I had some very serious reservations about, and they got through. The academic people in the back are doing a good job.
On J.D. Woods versatility
He’s been on the scout team, because he’s one of those guys I just mentioned. He finally came to live here the last two days. He looked good. He finished the year last year as the starting Z, the outside guy, and we moved him inside, because we need some inside guys. With the emergence of Jordan Thompson playing at a very high level, he took that spot and ran with it. We felt better at the inside receiver spot with him and Tavon (Austin), than we did at the outside receiver spot, so we moved J.D. back out, because he was more productive.
On whether any of the freshmen wide receivers have done well
Not really, other than Jordan (Thompson), which we’ve talk a lot about Jordan being productive. They’ve all shown signs of doing good things, but they take a step back because their young and their heads start spinning a little bit. We’re not ready to put any of those guys in the two-deep right now, and I’d anticipate only two of them playing.
On what receivers he is comfortable with
K.J. Myers is playing well. He’s doing a good job. Dante Campbell is doing some good things, he’s a physical kid. Both of those guys a year ago were just like the freshmen we have out there right now. They are more physical just because they ate a lot and lifted a lot. Those guys physically are ready to play. We have to keep evaluating the other guys to see who else we can put in there.
On if he is worried about the team not being ready for early games because of Big 12 buildup
No, because of how we’ve approached it. We haven’t talk about any of the games yet and once the first game gets closer, we’ll talk a lot about it, and that’s the only one we’ll talk about. We have a lot of coaches who have approached this the same way for a long time, and we’ll keep worrying about ourselves because we have a long ways to go.
On whether receiver downfield blocking is better than last year
I wouldn’t say it’s significantly better. It’s something we’ve worked hard on and that’s why I mentioned K.J. Myers and Dante Campbell. They’re physical guys who can block downfield. They do a good job of that. We’ve had the ability to throw a lot of screens, and I don’t care whether it’s Squirt (Jordan Thompson), Tavon or Stedman (Bailey), you need to get out there and handle an outside backer. We’ve worked hard on it, and I think it’s better. Is it ready for primetime? Probably not yet.