Holgorsen, staff has plenty of work ahead
Published: Thursday, February 10, 2011
Updated: Thursday, February 10, 2011 22:02
In the coming days and weeks, new West Virginia offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen and his newly formed coaching staff will begin their preparations for the 2011 football season.
Coaches have already started evaluating returning players, while workouts will be held, meetings will be attended and nagging injuries will be rehabbed.
Also on the slate will be the installation of the team's new offense, which has been known to rack up points and yardage in a seemingly easy fashion.
Although Holgorsen's pass-heavy offense will most assuredly achieve its goal of increasing the team's tempo and scoring more points, the coaches warn that it will not be without a few road bumps along the way.
Holgorsen's style of offense requires playmakers, and currently the Mountaineers have deficiencies with the group of players they have returning for the 2011 season.
Sure, they have receiver Tavon Austin returning for his junior season. He'll most likely flourish in the new offense.
But, is there another player on the roster who is certain to step up?
The potential is there for players like receivers Ivan McCartney, Stedman Bailey and Bradley Starks along with running backs Shawne Alston, Trey Johnson and Ryan Clarke.
But, there are no guarantees with any of those individuals.
Furthermore, can one of Holgorsen's incoming freshmen learn the offense quick enough to become a go-to playmaker in his first collegiate season?
The offense, which has been used by Holgorsen and his coaching staff at multiple schools, has been termed by many as a spread offense.
But to the coaching staff, this is a distinct misnomer.
"The term spread is thrown around a little too much," said inside receiver coach Shannon Dawson. "You can throw that term away because it isn't a very good labeling."
Instead, Dawson said the Mountaineers will pass first to open up the running game, opposite of typical spread offenses.
"Florida spreads it out and throws the ball 20-25 times per game," Dawson said. "We are going to throw it that many times in a half."
Dawson said while he was at Stephen F. Austin, his offense used at least 14 receivers in six games.
For comparison's sake, West Virginia had only a total of 14 receivers make a reception last season, eight of whom caught less than 10 passes.
With all this in mind, it is clear both Dawson and wide receiver coach Lonnie Galloway will have their work cut out for them as they try to find a cache of players who can be relied upon to consistently catch the ball.
Additionally, the job running back coach Robert Gillespie will have to do to find a true go-to running back amongst his group of players will be difficult.
Offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh wants to make changes to the offensive line but will have just eight scholarship players to work with in the spring, as starters Don Barclay and Jeff Braun will be out after offseason surgery.
Sure, Holgorsen's offense will eventually be productive in Morgantown. After all, it's been successful everywhere he has coached.
But before anyone expects the Mountaineer offense to rewrite the program's record book in the staff's first season, know this: There is still a large amount of work that needs to be done.