Coach Holgorsen's Tuesday Media Conference

  • By Sara Wells
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  • October 08, 2013 03:38 PM
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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - West Virginia University football coach Dana Holgorsen addressed members of the media today in a media conference.

Opening Statement
Going into a bye week right now comes at a good time for a number of reasons. Heading into Baylor, we tried to convince them that we had enough in our tank to go play a good football team. Looking back on it, I don’t know if we did. They were obviously a lot more energized, fresh, excited and ready to play. It showed out there.

Moving forward, this week will be a big week for academics. Midterms come out on Monday. The guys will be heavily involved with academics this week.

It’s rest and recovery this week. We have a beat up football team. We’ve been playing a lot of snaps defensively, and those guys are worn down. It had something to do with what happened on Saturday; Baylor also was efficient. Offensively, we’re playing more bodies because we’re trying to figure out what our dynamic is and what our makeup is going to be.

We’re really just trying to get healthy. We got away from it a little bit this weekend, and this week we will get out there and just try to keep improving. We’re a football team that’s very inexperienced and needs to get out there and keep improving. The coaches, assistants and I all have to keep improving. The players need to keep improving and what we’re seeing on the field offensively, defensively and special-teams wise needs to keep improving.

We will take this week to rest, recover and reenergize. We need to prepare ourselves to play a good Texas Tech team. We don’t have school Monday and Tuesday so those will be good days to work some things out at the beginning of the week and then move forward with the game the week after that point.

This week is important to get guys back. (Junior running back) Dustin Garrison and (redshirt-sophomore) Nick Kwiatkoski are going to get strong enough this week to be able to practice next week. (Sophomore cornerback) Ricky Rumph left the game with a foot that he couldn’t play on, but he will take this week and get healthy and will be ready next week. (Redshirt-junior offensive lineman) Quinton Spain left the game with a concussion. He will be cleared this week and ready for practice next week. (Senior wide receiver) Ivan McCartney had a concussion and will do the same.

We will rest (redshirt-junior) Clint Trickett this week. With that shoulder, we will give him the whole week to rehab and strengthen it so he’s 100 percent next week. I don’t know if that’s going to happen for sure, but we will give him this week off and let him rest and let him strengthen that shoulder to get him back on Monday. (Redshirt-freshman quarterback) Ford (Childress) should be stronger this week than he was last week. He practiced some last week. I didn’t think he was at the point where his pectoral muscle was strong enough to be able to take the reps in the game, so we went with Clint in the game. He should be stronger this week and next week and will be strong enough to play and practice.

(Redshirt-junior linebacker) Wes Tonkery broke his thumb. He’s seeing doctors today. I don’t know what his status is right now. (Junior wide receiver) Mario Alford has a shoulder injury that will probably keep him out of the game. He needs to strengthen that this week. I’ll find out how much he can do today.

College football - everyone is dealing with what we’re dealing with. We have to regroup and get healthier, which is what I expect to do this week. We need to prepare for Texas Tech.

On the quarterback position
I’m not prepared to say that Clint is our quarterback because Ford didn’t do anything to lose the job. It’s a dynamic I don’t like and isn’t beneficial to our football team. With our offense being inexperienced and having different people in at different times, it’s hard. The reality is that we’ve played six games and we’ve had three quarterbacks start two games each. They’re all guys that haven’t played very much and for whatever reasons - injuries, how they’ve practiced or how they’ve played in a game - we have to keep evaluating them.

Clint played very well against Oklahoma State and very average against Baylor. Whether it was his shoulder or whether it wasn’t, I don’t know. I haven’t coached him long enough to figure it out. I do like his grit and how he toughed it out. It was a challenging environment and a challenging situation, and he didn’t just turn it down. We were happy to see that.

I’ve liked Ford’s mentality. He tore his pectoral muscle. It’s not his fault. We just need to get him back on the field and see how he continues to progress. That’s what Monday is for - we will look at him then.

I will go with Clint unless Ford does something in practice. Then we will go from there.

On offense as of now
I knew we were going to be a work in progress. I knew it, and everybody knew it. I wanted it to come together quicker. I wish I was sitting here after six games saying that we know who we are, where we’re at and where we’re going. That’s not the current situation, and it’s not anyone’s fault. We’ve played some pretty good teams, we have a lot of inexperience and we have some injuries. We’re dealing with a lot of stuff that teams across the country are dealing with.

What you have to do is line up and try to figure out what you can change. We had things we did wrong on Saturday that we can work on today. That’s what we’ll do. We will try to get better at a couple of things each and every day. That’s what the whole team needs to do, especially offensively.

You can see some things happening that show improvement. Whether you want to believe that or not, you can see some things. We need to improve so we can win some games.

The Baylor game last week was similar to last year’s except that we weren’t able to make those plays downfield. Last year we made those plays downfield, and it ended up a 70-63 game. We knew if we couldn’t do that then it would be a shootout and we would be in trouble.

We need to understand what to do. The guys are playing with effort. They care. They are trying. (Redshirt-senior offensive lineman) Pat (Eger)’s the new center. The snap is a little off at times, which affects the run play. The backs can’t hit it because the timing is all screwed up. We’ve got a quarterback trying to throw a post route to five different guys that he’s never thrown that to. Based on how fast the receivers are and the relationship between the quarterback and that specific receiver, the ball needs to be thrown accordingly. This is stuff that happens in the course of a second.

Last year, it was Geno Smith to Stedman Bailey. That was easier because they’ve been doing it for eight years.

We got some to (junior wide receiver) Kevin White. That looked good. We got (redshirt-senior running back) Charles Sims loose down the field. We think good things are going to happen. We have to keep improving and getting better.

On how to improve
We try to attack, and we will try again. We are going to try and put ourselves in the best situation we possibly can. If it doesn’t work, we need to do it again, and again and again until it works out. You can’t use a magic wand or put some sort of a spell over them to make that stuff work. You just have to play. You need reps, time and practice. It’s a hard game, and we’ve played good teams. It is what it is.

On the offensive line
They’ve played like our whole offense has - inconsistently. I think we need some continuity. I like our lineup. Those guys will become better at what we asked them to do. Pat Eger will become a better center. Quinton Spain will become a better guard. (Redshirt-senior offensive linemen) Curtis Feigt and (Nick) Kindler are still getting better. Feigt probably played his best game the other day. Nick gets a little over-matched at times but tries hard.

The three young guys will continue to get better. They struggled in the game the other night but will get better. (Redshirt-freshman offensive linemen) (Adam) Pankey, (Tyler) Orlosky and (redshirt-sophomore offensive lineman Marquis) Lucas will continue to get better. They’re not at the point where they can be overly productive. It’s hard to play that position that young. We are inconsistent, but we need them to keep pushing.

On the targeting rule
For specific reasons that I won’t go into, they were looking for that. The call on (redshirt-senior safety Darwin) Cook was horrendous. That was the worst call ever. It was bad. They obviously overturned it and admitted their mistake. We won’t go into why the rule is what it is. Darwin did everything we asked him to do. He turned his head. Head-to-head contact is unavoidable. He did not lead with his head. He did exactly what we asked him to do.

The other one was confirmed, and I agree with it. Pankey will have to sit out the first half against Texas Tech. He was peeling back and it was a defenseless defender. He was running to get the quarterback and didn’t see the o-line guy. He’s a large guy, and he wasn’t malicious about it, but he hit him. He hit him head-to-head and couldn’t stop himself. You have to turn your shoulder.

On physicality
We’re not good enough. There have been a lot of things that have been targeted properly and our pad level has been good. We’re improving. Is it a winning formula? At this point, it’s hard to measure that by just lining up and taking the ball against people. If you want to compare it to a winning effort, compare it to Baylor. What they did is that they came off the ball and established the line of scrimmage five yards back.

What we did was okay. It wasn’t a dominating performance. It was night and day.

On the defense against Baylor
We reverted back to a lot of the stuff that happened last year. When we got down 21-7 and we knew the environment we were in, our guys hit the panic button, defensively specifically. They lost some of the discipline that we’ve been teaching for eight months which was discouraging to see. We need to keep the safeties deep and protect the corners. When Baylor established the run that they did, it went downhill. Why did it happen? I could give you 1,000 excuses, but they whipped our tail.

You’ve got to start preparing, you have to change, you have to start pressuring and doing a variety of things. That puts corners out in the open field. They had two guys in the open field that could just flat out go. Some of those throws and catches were really good. It steamrolled from there.

On senior leadership
I made reference to how well they were doing last week when we came back from Maryland embarrassed and disappointed. Cook, (redshirt-senior defensive linemen) Shaq Rowell and Will Clarke, (senior defensive linebacker) Doug Rigg, Pat Eger, Curtis Feigt, Nick Kindler and Charles Sims did a great job. Those seniors did a great job.

The leadership doesn’t have to come from seniors. They can be juniors, sophomores and even freshmen for all I care. We did a great job coming back from Oklahoma State. Then we took a step back going and playing in a very difficult situation, and we weren’t up for the challenge.

I’m going to rely on those guys again going through the off week and going through game prep for Texas Tech. Their jobs aren’t done. We need them to get us back on track and prepare to prepare for game week against Texas Tech, get out there and play our tail off. We need to have the same environment for Texas Tech as we did Oklahoma State.

When is this team going to get some consistency to it? That’s the next step. We need to get a win to get to that.

On the quarterbacks’ talent
One of them could be the next Geno Smith. They just have to keep playing. You look at Clint and Ford - they’ve only played two games in a Mountaineer uniform. They have to continue to get better. It’s unfortunate that they’re both dealing with injuries, but they have to continue to improve. I have all the confidence in the world that they will continue to improve.

It was fun watching Geno last night. It’s a difficult situation that he has thrived in. He’s going to be a great pro and play for a long time.

On kick return
We improved on kickoff return. Our special teams played well. We won the kicking game. We recovered well. Baylor’s average kick return was 25 yards and ours was 30. We created the turnover and scored a touchdown. We got an onside kick and executed it. I think we’re continuing to improve on the kicking game.

(Freshman running back) Wendell Smallwood did well. He did a relatively good job catching it and moving forward. I think you will like what you see out of (freshman cornerback Daryl) Worley once we get him in there. We have a couple of other guys we work with, but today we will work it and continue to improve.

On communication with quarterbacks
Clint is not able [to change plays] yet. That’s a separate discussion. Communication is one discussion. Understanding the offense enough to get the plays out is another. Our tempo wasn’t as good this Saturday as it was last Saturday against Oklahoma State. We had enough success offensively to where we could have pushed things a little bit quicker. Some of that is on Clint. I told him that his sense of urgency needed to pick up. I will get him plays, but he needs to see it, understand it and relay it quicker. We will work that hard this week. He can even work that with his thought process.

Ford is doing a little better. (Junior quarterback) Paul Millard does it a little bit better because of all the reps he’s had over three years. Ford and Clint both will improve with time.

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