Holgorsen Downplays Spring Game; Says Work Got Done
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — College football coaches are usually loath to lose practice time. Bad weather, injuries, class conflict — whatever the cause, interruptions to scheduled practice sessions usually aren’t viewed kindly.
That wasn’t the case for West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen, however, as he discussed the cancellation of the Mountaineers’ Gold – Blue game, and the idea that a couple of key injuries to players earlier in the spring was a cause for concern.
“Everybody wants to talk about why did you cancel the spring game, why this, why that,” he said dismissively. “I feel bad about [the cancellation for] our players, the fans, the families, I feel bad about that. But quite honestly, spring games are not that important when it comes to trying to make your team better. Usually, the spring game is what it is, and the coaches are running out of here, and they’re going to spring recruiting. ”
While the spring game certainly isn’t a decision-maker in terms of playing time or a deciding factor in schemes or tactics, it did (at least according to coaches’ comments in the past) give the staff another 100 or so snaps to evaluate players, at least on an individual basis. Holgorsen, though, didn’t view that loss with any angst, and noted that he achieved his goals for the program during March and early April.
“We have a veteran team; there’s been plenty of springs where I just try to teach them what to do. This spring, we taught them a lot of situational-type stuff, because we have a veteran team. So, we’re in a good place at this point,” he said.
Holgorsen moved West Virginia’s spring drills up two weeks this year, and as he noted, one of the off-field benefits will come in recruiting. With spring practice over, coaches can focus more on recruiting and stay on the road longer during the spring evaluation period, which runs through May 31. The early end to spring practice also gives players a couple of extra weeks to recover and work on conditioning before football practice resumes in August. Presumably, that could include a bit more down time as well.
As for injuries, which hit WVU hard at linebacker (both Quondarius Qualls and Brendan Ferns suffered knee injuries that figure to keep them out for all of 2018), Holgorsen didn’t agonize. That’s a good attitude to display for the team, and he took the opportunity to turn the question into a chance to send a message to his players.
“Everybody is worried about injuries. I don’t worry about injuries when it comes to football. Look, football is a sport that we all love. There is risk involved with that, but it’s part of the game. When you play this great game, you might get injured. That’s just part of it. We had a great spring – 14 practices, today is our 15th. Nobody got hurt on the walk other than maybe (associate athletic director) Alex (Hammond); he turns ankles all the time. It’s been a good spring; we’re going to be 100 percent healthy in August, which is when it counts.”