Holgorsen working on special teams
Published: Monday, November 7, 2011
Updated: Monday, November 7, 2011 23:11
West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen will continue to address various shortcomings on special teams this week as the Mountaineers prepare for Saturday's road game against Cincinnati.
"We did well with those units yesterday, and in football, after every game, there's going to be different problem. That's just the way it is in every football game that exists," he said.
"You try to get better at them, and you wind up (for) the next week and do your best to win the game. It's aggravating that it's a combination of stuff."
Coaching-wise, we'll take the blame for half of it, and playing-wise, they have to take the blame for half of it as well," he said.
In both the kicking and punting games, the Mountaineers suffered severe setbacks that would ultimately lead to the team's demise. With performances from the Louisville game in mind, Holgorsen revealed the starting punting spot is once again up for grabs.
"We would have went with (redshirt junior) Corey (Smith) on the next one," he said.
"I've told those guys all year long that they're going to be held accountable for what they do, so we would have went with (Smith) the next time. We didn't punt again, so at this point we'll see how practice goes this week."
The blocked field goal attempt at the beginning of the fourth quarter resulted in a ten-point swing from which West Virginia couldn't fully recover.
Holgorsen reasoned that the block wasn't as much a mistake from the kicking team as the byproduct of a great play from the Louisville defense.
"(Louisville freshman defensive back Andrew Johnson) played with tremendous effort – he cornered, jumped, got it, took one bounce and landed in the lap of the other guy," he said.
"Operation time was probably a little slow and then our right wing probably could have gotten a better punch, but that stuff happens fast. I give their kid credit for making that play. We had opportunities to make that same play, and we didn't."
The West Virginia defense was unable to come up with big plays when it needed to – something Holgorsen thinks his team can do if it improves in a couple of key areas.
"Getting turnovers on defense, getting off the field on third downs on defense, red zone defense, not giving up touchdowns (and) trying to hold them to field goals," he said.
Holgorsen and his staff will address the team's effort and energy this week as it prepares for Cincinnati.
It was apparent on Saturday that Louisville had more energy both on the sidelines and the field, and Holgorsen knows Cincinnati will come out in a similar fashion for this week's game.
"We talked about it all week, but we didn't have any energy – our sidelines were dead, and there wasn't a whole lot of excitement when things did happen for us," he said. "So it's a
problem that's being addressed, and we're going to try hard to fix it.
"There's not a whole lot of quit in (Cincinnati)," he said. "The Louisville game, they were down 10 at halftime, and they came out with a tremendous amount of effort.
"We were tied at halftime, and it looked to me in the locker room like we were losing."
Holgorsen will look to both his coaching staff and to his more experienced players as a means of creating more energy and effort within the team.
"You talk about it and get a whole bunch of players and seniors working toward one goal – and right now, that just doesn't exist," he said.
One of those leaders, redshirt senior Brad Starks, was injured against Louisville and will miss the next three games according to Holgorsen.
Starks, who returns kicks and has four receiving touchdowns this season, is a player Holgorsen thinks will be sorely missed.
"Whoever we put back there is probably not going to be as talented as him and might not be able to do the things he's been able to the last few weeks, but we have to put someone back there," he said.