Likes, Dislikes & Updates From WVU Head Coach Dana Holgorsen
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – West Virginia’s early start date, along with the length of camp and the earlier opening of school, has head coach Dana Holgorsen reevaluating the calendar.
When the Mountaineers open against Virginia Tech on Sept. 3, they will have practiced for five weeks – by far the longest time period any player or staffer can recall. And at this point, the tendency is to guard against monotony as well as continue to prepare for the Hokies. It’s an issue Holgorsen would like reviewed by the NCAA, along with the idea of playing a preseason game like the NFL. The latter might be a pipe dream, but the former is doable.
“I really wish this was game week,” Holgorsen said. “It seems like we’ve been practicing for a month, and we almost have been. I don’t know why the first game couldn’t be this weekend. By the time we play our first game, all the NFL preseason games are going to be over. Why do they practice for about 10 days and then have a preseason game? It just makes sense to me and I think the schools and the NCAA and all the rest of them will revisit in the offseason.”
Hogorsen made the point that there are “a whole lot of FCS games this weekend and there’s even three or four FBS games this weekend. There’s only so much you can do practicing against each other. It’s going to be five full weeks before the first game and that, to me, is insane. We’ll have been in school for two-and-a-half weeks prior to the first game – that doesn’t make much sense. I think you really need about three-and-a-half, four weeks prior to the first game.”
It’s a fair argument, with the majority of assistant coaches and players saying they were ready to face an actual opponent. Coordinators Jake Spavital and Tony Gibson played it closer to the vest, noting they were pleased to have another week, especially with the opening foe being No. 21 Virginia Tech.
Both sides still have questions at multiple spots. On offense, it’s who fills in at the receiver slots behind Ka’Raun White, Gary Jennings and David Sills, and who are the reserves along the line. Defensively, Gibson is still trying to piece together the line, and shuffle the depth chart at corner and linebacker. Holgorsen touched on those topics and more in our rifle reports section below.
- Holgorsen said cornerback Corey Winfield would return “in a couple days.” The senior transfer from Syracuse is battling for a starting spot, but missed the last two weeks of drills after hand surgery.
- Holgorsen remained elusive on the question of wide receiver depth after the departure of Jovon Durante and the suspension of Marcus Simms for the opener after a DUI arrest. West Virginia has players, notably 6-foot-5 Dominique Maiden and true freshman speedster Reggie Roberson, but Holgorson was loathe to name names. “Our starters have been starters from day one,” Holgorsen said. “When it comes to David Sills, Gary Jennings and Ka’Raun White, those guys have been starting and those guys do everything right and I’m excited about what years that they’re going to have.”
- When pressed on the developments behind the starting trio, and when asked if he has noticed any reserves beginning to push to start, Holgorsen had a one-word answer: “No.”
- Holgorsen, on if he has concerns going into game preparation this week and next: “I don’t know. You’re not going to know the answers to that,” Holgorsen said. “You would if you scrimmage somebody; you would if you played a preseason game. It gets to a point – Virginia Tech is probably at the very same spot that we are – when you’re going against each other for two, three weeks, you really don’t know until you go out there and play against somebody else.”
- Safety Shane Commodore and wideout Alejandro Marenco are now on scholarship following the departure of receiver Jovon Durante and lineman Rob Dowdy.
- WVU plans to release a depth chart next week, and will begin to consider potential redshirt candidates among the freshmen.
- Holgorsen said he was pleased with the progression of the offensive line. West Virginia is trying to replace center Tyler Orlosky, and is again mixing in Yodny Cajuste at tackle after a season-ending ACL tear in the opener against Missouri last year. “It’s still the same concern becausedepth is a problem right now,” He said. “We just have a lot of young guys that are the backups. But the continuity I see is improving. I think Matt Jones has done a good job at center and he has some older guys around him, so I think they’ve been improving.”