Holgorsen Worried About WVU, Though NC State Game Now Cancelled

Holgorsen Worried About WVU, Though NC State Game Now Cancelled

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Just minutes prior the announcement that West Virginia and North Carolina State would not be playing this Saturday because of the impending hurricane that will hit the Eastern Seaboard, WVU head coach Dana Holgorsen addressed the media at his weekly press conference. He is not concerned about the potential loss of the game on the schedule, pointing

Holgorsen is not concerned about the potential loss of a P5 contest in terms of schedule strength.

“We already have a  win over Tennessee,” he noted. “That’s a quality win.”

The eighth-year head coach sees his defense as a work in progress, but believes it has the potential to improve.

“Our pass defense needs to keep improving. Pass rush has been ok but needs to get better. We didn’t pressure a whole lot [against YSU] . Coverage wise we still have a lot of work to do.”

More from Holgorsen:

On practicing in bad weather

“Really the only thing that forces us inside is lightning. If it’s 28 and snowing, we’re going to be outside. There’s a footing aspect to snow that we’ll deal with. But rain, we’ll practice in rain. The only way we go in is if they say there’s lightning, you have to go in, and then we go in. Other than that, we’ll be outside. We haven’t had a whole lot of rain days, we’ve had a couple. I was not concerned with last Saturday at all. I thought we handled those conditions just fine. How many of those games did we play in last year? Iowa State was like that, Kansas State was like that, Utah was like that – it didn’t work, Oklahoma State, I believe, was like that, Oklahoma a couple years ago, we’ve played in all kinds of weather. We don’t care what the weather is, we go out, and we play in it. Now, there’s lightning that doesn’t allow you to do that, and there’s 150 mile-per-hour winds in a hurricane that probably won’t allow you to do that. Other than that, we’ll go out and practice. I thought we handled it really well last Saturday, and I was like the weather held off as long as it did, so the crowd would be there. The crowd was spectacular and gave us a lot of juice in warmups. I couldn’t be happier with our support right now from a fan prospective. That’s why (redshirt junior long snapper) Rex Sunahara was the player of the game on special teams because it was wet, and he had never snapped in those conditions, and his snaps were perfect. He’s had plenty of wet-ball snap drills. (Senior wide receiver David) Sills (V) lost the ball once, (redshirt senior quarterback) Will (Grier) lost the ball once. Other than that, we were pretty good on ball security, so I was happy with it overall.”

On his plans for Saturday

“Well, we’ll track what happens. That thing could head straight to West Virginia. I have some concerns with the amount of rainfall that’s going to happen in the state of West Virginia. There’s a contingency plan in place, there always is. We have a pretty important game a week from this Saturday that we need to get ready for, and weather will probably play as issue in that. I have zero interest in treating this like a bye week whatsoever. We will be here, and we will practice when we can practice.”

On if the team will immediately turn its attention to Kansas State

“Absolutely. I mean, why not? We’ve already gotten the binders ready. We know Kansas State pretty well; they know us pretty well. That’s not going to get talked about in my meeting this afternoon, that hasn’t been talked about in our prep on any of the phases. We can switch gears pretty quickly. I’d be lying if I said otherwise.”

On the team’s pass defense

“It needs to keep improving. Our pass rush has been OK. It needs to keep getting better, which I think it will. Those (defensive) linemen, I think, are going to continue to get better. We didn’t pressure a whole lot last week, which we knew we had that up our sleeve, and we can pressure as much as we want. Coverage-wise, we still have work to do, and today is a big day for that. We need to get out there and do a whole bunch of work to try to get ourselves better. We have a lot of good competition going on at corner. I was happy with how (redshirt junior cornerback) Keith Washington went in and played, (sophomore cornerback) Derrek Pitts (Jr.) is going to get better and better, (redshirt junior cornerback) Josh Norwood is going to get better and better, (redshirt junior cornerback) Hakeem Bailey needs to regroup a little bit and practice. I’ve seen that kid make a ton of plays, so there’s good competition going on with those four. And then our safeties are pretty experienced guys. You can’t just pinpoint one person or any of that, it’s a collective effort. It’s a big task for us – (Ryan) Finley is a heck of a player. But it’s no different than playing against any of these Big 12 schools, because the Big 12 has some pretty good passing offenses. What our defense sees in practice is, I think, a pretty good passing offense. It’s a work in progress.”

On redshirt sophomore offensive lineman Chase Behrndt’s first start

“That’s an ongoing battle. We flipped Chase and (senior offensive lineman) Isaiah (Hardy) from tackle to guard, to guard to tackle, and we thought Chase played better at guard than tackle. He’s played both, and Isaiah has played both. We played (redshirt junior offensive lineman) Joe Brown too much in game one. Joe is going to be a good player for us and is continuously working himself into better shape. It’s hard for an (offensive) lineman to step foot on campus in May or June and start game one. I think Joe is a little ahead of the curve because he’s an older guy with some Division I experience, but he’s 365 pounds or whatever he was when he first got in here, so he’s continuously working himself into shape. So, we needed a better option at guard, and Chase gave us a better option at guard. I’m trying to redshirt Isaiah, trying to get him another year. If we need to play him, we’ll play him. But if we can save him right now, (redshirt junior offensive lineman) Kelby Wickline is our third tackle. If we can save Isaiah and only play him in four games, then that’ll be good for our football team next year. So, that’ll still be a battle between Chase and Joe. They need to keep competing.”

On why he chose redshirt sophomore offensive lineman Chase Behrndt to start last week

“I just thought he played better in practice last week, honestly. I’m not disappointed in (redshirt junior offensive lineman) Joe (Brown), it’s just a competition. The more competition that we can have at a whole bunch of these spots, the better they are going to be. You see it out of our running back position right now. Those guys are all competing hard with each other, and it’s making them better. I want to get that going at corner, I think we have some of that going on (defensive) line. Up front, we had it at center with (redshirt sophomore offensive lineman Jacob) Buccigrossi coming in and having a really good camp, it pushed (redshirt junior offensive lineman) Matt Jones and made Matt Jones better. That’s what we look for in all of these spots. Bringing in a couple of pretty high-quality defensive line grad transfer guys have made guys like (junior defensive lineman) Reese (Donahue) better and has made (senior defensive lineman Ezekiel) Zeke (Rose) better. Those guys, from a playing prospective, have made them better, but their presence has made (freshman defensive lineman) Dante and (sophomore defensive lineman) Darius Stills better. The more competition we can get, the better off we’re going to be.”

On redshirt junior offensive lineman Joe Brown’s appeal to gain another year of eligibility:

“Not yet. It’s in the works, but we’ll see what happens there.”

On if there’s a benefit to play a true road game out of conference:

“It depends on who you ask. When you get Power 5 home-and-homes, it’s going to be a home-and-home. We can finish the rest of this with scheduling talk if we want. I had asked the question, ‘Oh my gosh, if you don’t play NC State, you’re not going to have a quality win.’ Well, Tennessee is in the SEC, that’s a quality win. There are a lot of teams that are only playing nine Power 5s. We’re guaranteed nine, and we’ve already played one, which is 10. Heck, there’s an SEC school that plays eight. It would be good, but it’s not mandatory because nobody else does it.”


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