Dana Holgorsen Teleconference


West Virginia Head Football Coach Dana Holgorsen held his weekly teleconference with the media on Sunday. The head man didn’t have much to say about Pitt and Syracuse leaving, but stayed focused on the work his guys did against Maryland, and where the Mountaineers need to improve with LSU coming to Morgantown this weekend.

On Pitt and Syracuse to the ACC
I’ve had a busy couple of days myself. We took care of business yesterday, and obviously there is no time to rest or relax. We’ve had a full day today getting the Maryland game over with and moving on to the next one, which happens to be LSU.

On his concerns with LSU
I’ve glanced at them defensively, but I haven’t really studied them. I’m not smart enough to get a game ahead, and Thursday night I reluctantly watched the game, which obviously LSU look really good in. That was just me as a spectator more than a coach, and I’ll worry about us Friday and Saturday trying to get ready to play. Today is about getting Maryland over with and moving on. I’ve looked at very little, but I’ll spend the rest of the night doing that. They’re obviously a good team. It doesn’t matter how many seniors they had last year, especially defensively, they’ll just replace them with guys who are every bit as good.

On generating meaningful turnovers
We had three turnovers ourselves, which we weren’t very happy about. We overcame the two that we had defensively really well. The one that hurt was the one in the third quarter, but if you’re comparing the turnovers, the three that we got ended up paying off for us more than the three they got. We didn’t want to lose the turnover battle, which we didn’t, but it would’ve been an easier victory if we won the turnover battle.

On whether the offense is getting better
We played better. Game three was better than games one and two. It all starts with blocking, and we did a better job of finishing blocks. We showed up in the run game and were able to get into the end zone a couple of times on the ground. It’s a work in progress; we have our work cut out for us this week. I hope our offense isn’t going to be judged on what happens next week from that standpoint; LSU is really good on defense.

On looking for more continuity
Do we want to score every time? Yes. Do we want to stop people every time? Yes. Do we want to make plays in the kicking game? Yes. Everybody wants to be 100 percent, but that rarely ever happens in football.

On getting ESPN’s College GameDay and what it brings
For the program it’s good, for the city of Morgantown it’s good and for West Virginia University it’s good. All that will be handled through administrators, and our jobs as players and coaches is to focus on the game. Our job is to eliminate as many distractions as we possibly can and go through the weekly routine.

On what the distractions are this weekend
Every game is big – we’ve been preaching that since we got here. Our jobs as coaches is to get the guys ready to play; whether you’re playing Marshall, Norfolk State, Maryland or LSU, it doesn’t matter. The weekend after (LSU) is going to be another one. We get into a routine and do our best to prepare each day to put ourselves in position to win the game on Saturday.

On what he likes about Geno Smith so far
He’s done a great job at taking care of the ball. He is responsible for two turnovers, but the fumble, it was a bam-bam call where it could have been called incomplete and they got tremendous pressure around the edge on his blindside. The interception was solely in the hands of the receiver that could have been prevented.

On Smith’s troubles in the red zone
It’s not a mindset at all; he expects to be successful on every play. We’ve been decent in the red zone at about 90 percent, and (Tyler) Bitancurt has done a good job of knocking the ball through the uprights. Points are points; once we get in there, we’re going to call plays to make sure we get points. Experience is one thing – understanding the situation of when we want to run and when we want to throw it is another.

On whether Smith’s runs are self-called
Not exclusively, but that’s part of what we do. We put a lot on the quarterback from a decision standpoint, and that doesn’t matter if you’re on the goal line or in the open field. We coach them and then when game day comes, we hope we coached them right to where he’s making the plays.

On the balance of the passing game
We’re getting better. The continuity is taking place. We want to develop starters and we want to develop main backups and figure out how much those guys need to play based on their production level. We’re gaining; I’ve been a lot of places where we’ve had 300-yards receivers. I’m happy with their production, but we need to get more out of the other two spots.

On handling the big game
You have to get your guys into a routine and you need them to focus on the task at hand. It’s about eliminating distractions, going to class, going to study hall and making sure you’re body is right. There is a lot on these guys’ plates from a student-athlete perspective to where they need to do the right thing every week.

On whether he was alarmed about the defense giving up 31 points
Jeff (Casteel) and I talked about it. We ran a lot of plays and scored points, and then offensively they (Maryland) weren’t in a rhythm, and that flipped. That’s going to happen, but we need to do a better job of regaining the momentum. They went on about three drives where they wore us out, and their tempo was good and we got tired.

We didn’t get off the field, we got tired and they made some plays on us and we didn’t get off the field on third down.

On the two personal foul flags and talking to guys about it
Those are bang-bang judgment calls, which sometimes they get them right and sometimes they don’t. The thing that I thought we did a good job of is when both of them happened, we didn’t cave. We were being real physical and getting off the field on third down, and when those happened it put us in a bind, but we didn’t cave in and they didn’t get touchdowns. It’s officiating. You have to worry about stuff you can control, and that’s one that you can’t.

On how he views protecting offensive players
You have to do it. There were a couple of instances last night that you saw it. If guys are leading with the top of their heads, you have to call it. There was one on our end that happened to us that didn’t get called. That’s just part of it. They’re doing their best to protect guys, and if guys come in with their head, it’s going to get called.

On Jared Barber and Cecil Level on special teams
They’re playing with better effort than some of the other guys we have out there. Our jobs as coaches is to identify guys that aren’t starters that can get on three or four special teams and give a tremendous amount of effort. There is a whole bunch of non-starters that we would like to get that kind of effort and production out of.