Holgorsen Monday: Will Grier’s Best Game, Run Game Improvement and OSU Lookahead

Holgorsen Monday: Will Grier’s Best Game, Run Game Improvement and OSU Lookahead


Comparing the performances of West Virginia quarterback Will Grier can be difficult, given the regularity with which the Mountaineer senior clicks off 300+ yard passing shows and touchdown connections. With so many to choose from, it might be difficult to pick a “best” for the Heisman Trophy candidate, but WVU head coach Dana Holgorsen didn’t hesitate in selecting a winner.

“I think he is coming off his best performance yet. He played lights out and controlled the whole game,” Holgorsen said of Grier’s play against TCU, which resulted in a 47-10 win Saturday in Morgantown. “Gary Patterson does great job coaching (the Horned Frog defense) and he puts guys in position to make plays. We got after them pretty good and scored 47. That doesn’t happen to TCU very often. (Grier) was as accurate as he has been here. He had like five drops and only missed two passes. He just managed things really well.”

Grier was 25-39 for 343 yards and three touchdowns, with his only interception coming off a deflected pass.

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West Virginia used David Sills as its primary punt returner against the Horned Frogs, and the senior was excellent in the job Holgorsen views as the most important above all else: catching the ball.

“First, he wants to do it, and second, he works hard at it,” WVU’s coach said of his senior receiver. “That was a tricky game because the wind was swirling unlike I’ve ever seen it here in Morgantown. He can track the ball and catch it, and his hand-eye coordination is very good. They tried to spray the punt everywhere, and he was able to track it and catch it. We won the field position battle by 20 yards ; that’s almost unheard of in college football, and a lot of that credit goes to him.”

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Holgorsen was in a jovial mood when considering what makes he and offensive line coach Joe Wickline work well together.

West Virginia assistant coach Joe Wickline addresses his offensive line

“Joe is an odd guy, and people tell me I’m an odd guy, so maybe it’s the oddness,” he said with a laugh before shifting into on-field similarities. “The football aspect of it has always worked. He is doing a good job of coaching these guys up, and with coach (Jake) Sapvital, we are all working well together. Joe knows lot of football in that huge noggin of his. It has been a good marriage.”

West Virginia’s running game has gone through several iterations under Holgorsen, from single back to two and even three backs in the backfield to the current tight end\fullback\wingback sets.

“A lot of that has been Wickline-influenced,” Holgorsen credited. “A lot of the tight end and fullback stuff has come from him. At Houston, we had 1,000-yard rushers. The things we did at Oklahoma State were well documented, and we took it to a whole other level here. The tight end extra gap, the fullback extra gap have been a big part of the offense.”

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Oklahoma State week always brings back memories and questions about Holgorsen’s time in Stillwater, and he admits to enjoying it while also noting that the Cowboys’ current 5-5 record isn’t reflective of its talent.

“It’s going to be a blast. Every week is fun,” he allowed before looking ahead. “I know what we expect to see from Oklahoma State. They are scary. They can score points and look really good. I think some of it is the up and down in the Big 12 Conference. You have to be ready to play every week. We expect to get their best.”

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A common theme for Holgorsen is increase comfort level in “Year Two” of any system change, whether it be personnel at a position (especially quarterbacks) or coaches in new roles.

“I couldn’t be more comfortable than what my role is right now,” he said of his move from playcaller to more of a game manager at the start of the 2017 season. “It was a learning experience last year. Year One can be tough. I think Year Two works a little bit better, which is not surprising. I sit in the quarterback room a lot, I may go in the receivers room or the o-line room for an afternoon to stay familiar with what is going on. If Jake needs a sounding board, I’m here to be a sounding board.”

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West Virginia’s use of transfers in building its team is getting more notice nationally.

“I think we do a good job as a coaching staff of IDing guys that fit with the way we do things and what the expectations are,” Holgorsen explained. “Understanding the culture of West Virginia, and IDing why guys want to come here as transfers or come back or whatever. You have to continually vet that process.”

Holgorsen joked that the topic, including WVU’s mining of the now-defunct Eastern Christian Academy for talent, might be a suitable topic for a 30-for-30 episode.

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Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy isn’t comparing statistics when he notes that West Virginia’s and Oklahoma’s defenses are similar as part of his contrast of the two teams.

“They are very similar to the team we just played,” Gundy said of the Mountaineer defense. “They are fantastic on offense, and they have an  experienced quarterback that has made a lot of plays. Their offensive line is good, and their wide receivers make play after play after play. They have an attacking defense that can run and get to the ball very fast. There are very similar to what we saw this week against Oklahoma.”

WVU has allowed 20.9 points and 354 yards per game this year, while the Sooner defense has yielded 29.8 and 416, respectively.

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Mike Gundy

Gundy is in the midst of what some are calling a rebuilding year, although the Cowboys are 5-5 and stand just one win away from a bowl bid. It has been an up-and-down season with very good wins over Boise State and Texas, but close losses to Iowa State, Baylor and Oklahoma.

“When we play smart football, minimize penalties and not make dumb mistakes, we have a chance to be a pretty good football team,” Gundy observed. “I wish we would have kicked the ball better on special teams (against Oklahoma), but I thought the guys played about as good as we could expect. I thought the coaches had a good game plan and we executed it.”

The Cowboys are ninth in the league in penalty yardage, seeing 73 yards per contest of walk-offs. West Virginia, this week’s opponent, is eighth at 72.3.

OSU dropped a 42-41 decision to the Sooners after missing an extra point and a 41-yard field goal. The former led the Cowboys to go for a two-point conversion following its final touchdown in the waning moments of the game, rather than being in position to kick another extra point to win it.

Oklahoma State is now 2-of-7 on field goals over the past three contests.

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Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell is not concerned that his team will be without running back David Montgomery for the first half of the Texas game. Montgomery was ejected for throwing punches during a melee with Baylor last Saturday.

“I don’t think so at all,” he said of the thought that his team could miss Montgomery’s presence.  “We have had to play without David at other times this year.”

Montgomery is second in the league in rushing, averaging 95.6 yards per game.

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Count Kansas State head coach Bill Snyder as one who sees getting to a bowl as a still-important goal.

“I think bowl eligibility is very significant,” said the coach of the 4-6 Wildcats. “I would imagine it’s part of the goal process for every team this time of the year.”

Texas Tech (5-5)  boss Kliff Kingsbury agrees.

“It’s huge, that month to allow younger guys to develop and go into the spring. We are all fighting for them.”

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Texas, a team built on defense in days of yore, has seen its greatest improvement on the offensive side of the ball since the start of this season, according to head coach Tom Herman. The Longhorns won a 41-34 shootout with Texas Tech on a touchdown pass with 21 seconds to go after dropping a similar 42-41 duel with West Virginia the week before.

“Our throw game is getting better each week, and out quarterback is seeing the field better,” said the second-year Texas coach, whose Longhorns are 7-3. “Our receivers have a ton of confidence because we are doing the same things over and over again.”

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QUOTABLE: “I don’t know how you have an emotional letdown when you lose.” – Kansas head coach David Beaty, answering a question about avoiding a letdown following his team’s 21-17  loss to Kansas State.

Home forums Holgorsen Monday: Will Grier’s Best Game, Run Game Improvement and OSU Lookahead

This topic contains 2 replies, has 2 voices, and was last updated by Kevin Kinder Kevin Kinder .

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  • #74343
    Kevin Kinder
    Kevin Kinder
    Muskets: 8,975

    Holgorsen Monday: Will Grier’s Best Game, Run Game Improvement and OSU Lookahead Comparing the performances of West Virginia quarterback Will Grier ca
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    #74357
    Butlereer
    Butlereer
    Muskets: 101,825
    Rank: Heisman Winner

    Just hope there is no let down. On paper we are better than OSU, but on paper means nothing at kick off.

    #74378
    Kevin Kinder
    Kevin Kinder
    Muskets: 8,975

    OSU is really inconsistent, but clearly capable of beating most any team. They are still playing for a bowl spot, so don’t think they will be down, even with the disappointment of the Bedlam loss.

    One angle I’m thinking about – WVU’s two worst defensive performances have come on the road. Is that the reason, or was it the opponents involved?

    OSU’s offense definitely has talent.

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Home forums Holgorsen Monday: Will Grier’s Best Game, Run Game Improvement and OSU Lookahead