Holgorsen, new assistants begin installing new offense
WVU QB Geno Smith says he will fully participate in spring ball
Published: Thursday, March 3, 2011
Updated: Thursday, March 3, 2011 00:03
West Virginian University's new offensive coordinator and head coach-in-waiting Dana Holgorsen has made it clear in his first two months on the job that he will have his stamp on this year's team.
The former Oklahoma State offensive coordinator said he and his offensive assistants have all but scrapped tape of the offense WVU ran last season and have begun to teach his quick, no-huddle, pass-happy attack to his players.
"I didn't watch any film on what West Virginia did last year, because that's not my offense," Holgorsen said. "I don't care what it looked like last year."
Since Signing Day in early February, the new offensive assistants – running backs coach Robert Gillespie, offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh and inside receivers coach Shannon Dawson – have spent time getting to know the new players and showing those players tape from Holgorsen's offense while he was at Oklahoma State and Houston.
"As we got into one-on-one time, you get to know people better," Holgorsen said. "Once we've done that, it's been better."
WVU will open spring practice March 28 with an offense that doesn't use a fullback or tight end as consistently as the Mountaineers did in 2010. WVU's spring game will be held on a Friday night for the second-straight year. It will take place on April 29 at 7 p.m.
"We want to play with a tempo. That's who we're going to be," said WVU head coach Bill Stewart. "We want to be faster than fast."
Holgorsen said spring
practice was pushed back to help the new offensive assistants get to know the players and allow those players to learn more about the new offense. Holgorsen compared it to grade school.
His system, though, can be learned in a few days, Holgorsen admitted.
"We've got this offense to the point that it will make sense to the kids by the end of spring ball," Holgorsen said. "Then, it's up to them to keep working at it. This offense isn't hard to learn, it's not hard to grasp, and it's not hard to retain. But, that doesn't make you good. What makes you good is players meshing together."
It hasn't been hard for players to buy in, Holgorsen said, because the tape and statistics have spoken for themselves. In his lone year at Oklahoma State, the offensive finished third in scoring (44.23 points per game) and third in total offense (520.23 yards per game).
"It's easier when they look at Oklahoma State tape, and it looks good," Holgorsen said. "If they want that to be them, then they probably should buy in and try to get good at it. It's not just going to happen. They've got to give effort and work at it. It's a hard game."
In addition, Holgorsen has told players every position is up for grabs – even quarterback, where starter Geno Smith is considered to be an all-Big East candidate.
Holgorsen later admitted that he fully expects Smith to start, but most positions are wide open.
"We'll see what (the player's) got in the spring," Holgorsen said.
Smith was still wearing a walking boot on his left foot following surgery in January. But, Smith fully anticipates to practice in full during the spring.
"From what I'm told, I'm full go when spring gets here," Smith said. "It's extremely important for me to be out there with those guys as a leader."
Smith said the healing process has been quicker than in past years due to the fact that he knew the surgery was coming. He reinjured the foot prior to the 2010 season, and took precautions that helped him once the procedure was completed.
"I'm pretty much competing with the rest of the guys besides running and cutting. I do 7-on-7's and do routes," Smith said. "I do pretty much everything the other quarterbacks are doing."
Holgorsen said Smith doesn't have to be 100 percent to participate in many of the spring drills, because he won't be running as much in the new offense.
"It's kind of strange. This is going to be my junior year, but it's going to be my first spring to participate in it fully," Smith said.
Smith said the coaching staff has transitioned well with the players, and he is excited to begin spring practices.
"Those guys are here for us as players. They're here to make us better players, but also have fun," Smith said. "One thing Coach Holgorsen preaches is you can't play the game of football if you're not having fun. I really think that they're going to instill that into us."
By the end of spring practice, Holgorsen hopes to have a better idea of what his players can do and evaluate the team.
"Then, they just have to do a lot of voluntary stuff over the summer," Holgorsen said. "They've got to go out and work at it."