Mountaineers begin spring practices
Published: Sunday, March 11, 2012
Updated: Monday, March 12, 2012 02:03
In the midst of all the talk about brackets and postseason basketball, the West Virginia football team took to the field for the first time since its record-setting Orange Bowl victory in January.
For head coach Dana Holgorsen, today was the perfect time to end the offseason and get back to work as the team prepares for its first season of play in the Big 12 conference.
With plenty of new faces both on the field and on the coaching staff, Holgorsen was pleased with the energy he saw from all parties Sunday.
"It was a good first day; (we) had really good energy," he said. "It was good to get back out there after eight weeks of offseason stuff where we lifted a bunch and ran around without a football."
With a new defensive scheme and the offense returning for its second year under his system, Holgorsen thinks this year the offense and defense have taken on opposite roles from last year.
"From an offensive perspective, it was where we were at defensively a year ago, and from a defensive perspective, it was where we were at offensively a year ago," he said.
"The roles have been flipped, and we have a long way to go on both sides."
Holgorsen was pleased with what he saw from starting quarterback Geno Smith, comparing his progression with former Houston quarterback Case Keenum.
"It was more like it was when Case came back after I coached him for a year, and you didn't have to tell him a whole bunch going into that second year at Houston," he said.
"Geno looked really good. (He) just was under control and was poised and understood what we were saying to where we didn't have to say a whole bunch to him."
True freshman quarterback and prized-recruit Ford Childress, who enrolled in school early to be eligible for spring practice, looked good physically but still has a long way to go mentally – which is exactly what Holgorsen expected at this point.
"(Childress) is a tremendous talent (and) is physically very imposing with a phenomenal arm, exactly what we knew when we recruited him," he said.
"From a mental standpoint and understanding the offense, he's obviously got a long way to go. He looked like (sophomore quarterback) Paul (Millard) did last year when (he) first got here, and I'm sure he looked like Geno did when (he) first got here."
Holgorsen seemed to think the new members of his coaching staff had an excellent first day of practice, even though most of them may have trouble talking for the next couple of days.
"They're all hoarse right now," he said of the new coaches. "I actually have my voice right now. I usually can't talk in these press conferences after practices, so they're the hoarse ones, now.
"We go so fast in between plays that they don't have a whole lot of time to coach, so they have to yell, so they're hoarse."
The first spring practice of the season couldn't have been on a better day, with weather sunny and in the mid-60s – something Holgorsen didn't know was possible this time of the year in Morgantown.
"It was awesome. We didn't have one day like this last year," he said. "There was a big cloud over our head for a long time. I didn't think this weather existed here in March."
The Mountaineers won't practice again until Tuesday, and on Thursday the team will wear pads for the first time.