Holgorsen boasts on cooking, blasts rule

August 10, 2018

MORGANTOWN — West Virginia University football head coach Dana Holgorsen warmed up the media at the start of Thursday’s news conference with a little “foodie” talk.

“I cooked last night and it was outstanding,” said the proud coach. “I can tell you the menu: steaks and chicken, corn bread, corn on the cob, fresh green beans, cauliflower mixed in with olive oil and bacon and onions. It was really good. Baked potatoes, bacon, butter and sour cream and olive oil on the outside.” He was chewing the fat on the subject of his team’s nutrition program.

“Eating and sleeping is the key to recovering and getting back on the field as healthy as you can possibly get,” Holgorsen said.

Then, however, the coach got to the real meat of the presser. And within he inserted a challenge to the NCAA rule-makers.

Holgorsen was explaining how having more experienced players helps this particular team because the start of school is quickly approaching. WVU’s classes begin this coming Wednesday, Aug. 15.

“We have 25 practices and about six walk-throughs,” Holgorsen said. “Some teams will have more walkthroughs based on when their school starts. We start so early. You can’t have the walk-throughs once school starts. We go to 20 hours then.

“Teams that don’t start school until, say, after Labor Day have a huge advantage because they get as many walk-throughs as they possibly want. I think the NCAA needs to look at that. That’s not fair. But we’ll take our 25 practices and six walk-throughs and make the most of them.”

The Mountaineers resumed practicing Thursday after taking a day off.

“We couldn’t practice (Wednesday),” Holgorsen said. “You have to give them a recovery day once a week.”

Did it give him anxiety to take a day off with the season fast approaching?

“I thought it would,” Holgorsen said. “But it’s good. We ask so much out of them in the practices we get. When I first started coaching at Valdosta State, we had three practices. We practiced an hour and a half in the morning, an hour and a half in the afternoon and like 45 minutes at night. We spent more time dressing than we did practicing.

“With one-a-day practicing, we’re literally out there for three hours. I thought I’d be concerned with it, but the morning walk-throughs we have — we can use footballs now — are basically practices that technically don’t count as practice.”

Holgorsen also touched on several other topics:

THE NEW REDSHIRT RULE: “I don’t know how we’ll use it,” said the coach. “I think we’ll use it a bunch of different ways. I can see us playing guys early and then put them on the shelf, saying they aren’t ready. I can see in Game 8, like David Sills, a kid that was really making plays on the scout team, moving up. If guys get hurt, you put them in.

“We’ll end up dressing and traveling more (players) than we have. If we need them, we use them. If we don’t, we keep them on the sideline.”

EARLY PRACTICE IN PADS: “I was pleased with our ‘situations,’ ” Holgorsen said. “We did two-minute; we did four-minute; we did ‘third and play it.’ That’s if you convert on third down, you stay on the field. If you don’t, you have to run off the field.

“We exchanged punt teams and field goal teams. It flowed pretty good. ... Overall, I was pleased with it. It was physical.”

THE TEAM’S DEFENSE: “I like our maturity on the D-line,” Holgorsen said. “Those old guys, Jabril (Robinson) and Kenny (Bigelow), have looked good. They add broad maturity. They’re grown men. Zeke (Rose) and Reese (Donahue) are old. It’s nice to have older, mature guys.

“I think they have a chance to be better than two or three years ago when we had Christian (Brown) and Noble (Nwa-chukwu) and Darrien (Howard), three seniors. They’re mature. It gives you a chance to be successful. If you have young guys at those spots you have no chance. That’s where we were last year.”

Holgorsen said it gives the linebackers and secondary “a chance to do their jobs.”

THE TEAM’S CENTER POSITION: “We have two,” Holgorsen said. “I feel really good about two. Matt (Jones) started 13 games for us last year. (Jacob) Buccigrossi right now is ahead of him. That doesn’t mean he’s going to start, but right now he’s running with the first team. (Buccigrossi) was hurt last year so he couldn’t play.”

THE TEAM’S KICKING POSITION: “Evan (Staley) is a clear-cut No. 1 at (point after touchdown) and field goals,” Holgorsen said. “He’s kicking the ball very well. We have competition as his backup. (Luke) Hogan and (Skyler) Simcox are competing.”

Holgorsen said Staley hit a 54-yard field goal on Tuesday. He added there’s competition at “deep snapper and kickoff guy.”

A POSSIBLE PLAYER MOVE: Holgorsen was talking about offensive line coach Joe Wick-line moving his players around and mentioned that backup left guard Chase Behrndt was getting action at second-team tackle.

AND AN AWARDED SCHOLARSHIP: WVU has elevated redshirt junior linebacker Shea Campbell to scholarship status. He is a product of Morgan-town High.

“He’s earned a scholarship,” Holgorsen said. “I don’t know if he’s played a snap yet, but (defensive coordinator Tony Gibson) loves him. He’s smart. Reminds us a lot of Justin Arndt, a West Virginia kid.”

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