Column - Holgorsen and Geno getting on same page
Published: Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, September 28, 2011 00:09
Peter Drucker, an influential 20th century management consultant, once said, "The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn't said."
For West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen and his quarterback, junior Geno Smith, effective nonverbal communication of Holgorsen's constant, unspoken commands from the sidelines is a prerequisite for offensive success.
Holgorsen's Air Raid offense thrives off adjustments made during games.
Notoriously simplistic at its core, the offense is able to adapt at a moment's notice when Holgorsen – headset attached, arms crossed on the sidelines – sees an opportunity in the opposing defense's coverage he wants to exploit.
With only 40 seconds on the play clock, most of which is chewed up getting set at the line of scrimmage or unutilized due to the pace of the offense, time is limited to make these adjustments.
Smith has to ensure the offense is lined up properly and ready to snap the ball. He has a finite amount of time to decipher Holgorsen's nonverbal cues and implement them on the field.
As hectic as it already sounds, envision the amplified difficulty for Smith in performing the necessary reads, while a crowd of thousands rumbles in anticipation of the play.
Since Holgorsen's arrival, a litany of time and effort has been exerted getting Smith prepared to make those necessary pre-snap adjustments.
Holgorsen and Smith have worked extremely hard to get to the point they are at now, which isn't far off from their ultimate goal.
During preseason camp, Holgorsen made a comment about Smith's confidence that came across as an attempt to keep the ambitious quarterback grounded.
When later asked about the comment, Smith was taken off guard. He asserted that he never heard from Holgorsen and that his confidence is an essential component of his play – going further to say he was not too cocky, as Holgorsen may or may not have implied.
To me, this illustrated the work both Holgorsen and Smith had to do to improve their relationship with one another.
The two had the utmost faith in one another and acknowledged the importance of their relationship, but at that point in time, universal trust had not yet been established.
That awkward exchange back in August is long gone. It is safe to say Holgorsen and Smith have an exorbitant level of trust between them.
That trust is what allows accurate interpretations of Holgorsen's sideline demands.
The rapport of coach and quarterback is at an all-time high. What both will admit, however, is that the nonverbal communication between them during games still needs improving.
Holgorsen alludes to it in every postgame conference. Each week, Smith and Holgorsen are getting closer to the ultimate goal of a fluid, simultaneous exchange of ideas.
Ideally, Holgorsen would like Smith to think exactly the way he does – to see the same coverage and know where to attack and in what fashion.
This goal is not far off, but there are still improvements to be made.
Smith needs to arrive at the point that every hand motion, head nod and stare from Holgorsen translates to a specific set of instructions.
Both have made exceptional strides in this department, but there are still times during games when Holgorsen will give Smith a nonverbal cue and the quarterback becomes confused.
Smith has approached the opportunity of this season with a robust work ethic and unwavering attitude.
He has shown on and off the field that his desire to lead his team and win football games is at an uncompromising level.
He is continuously working on his ability to decode what Holgorsen is transmitting from the sidelines, watching film and practicing an understanding of the unspoken reads from his coach.
It's a process that requires time and experience more than anything else.
The increase in successful nonverbal communication between the two is impressive, and it won't be long before Holgorsen and Smith reach utopia.