WVU’s Holgorsen Back To Roots For Camping Bowl

WVU’s Holgorsen Back To Roots For Camping Bowl

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Dana Holgorsen confirmed Wednesday that he will serve as offensive coordinator and will be calling plays for West Virginia’s Camping World Bowl date with Syracuse on December 28, but he won’t be calling any plays for wide receiver Gary Jennings.

Holgorsen verified what most everyone had known for some time and that was that Gary Jennings will join quarterback Will Grier and offensive tackle Yodny Cajuste in sitting out the bowl game.

West Virginia wide receiver Gary Jennings (12) heads for the end zone as Oklahoma’s Brendan Radley-Hiles (44) vainly pursues

Jennings has what must be considered an excused absence for the game.

“He battled a high ankle (sprain) for six weeks. He hasn’t practiced for six weeks,” Holgorsen said. “I don’t know how he did what he did against Oklahoma. He needs to get healthy. I respect that.”

Jennings, despite playing sparingly, caught seven passes for 225 yards in his final game as a Mountaineer.

The senior finished the season with 54 catches for 917 yards and 13 touchdowns and for his career he has 168 catches for 2,294 yards and 17 touchdowns. He ranks seventh all-time on the WVU list in receptions, sixth in receiving yards and tied for sixth in 100-yard receiving games.

Grier and Cajuste had announced shortly after the Oklahoma game that they would sit out the bowl to prepare for the NFL draft.

Both had Holgorsen’s blessings, as does Jennings.

“He made the decision and I respect it,” Holgorsen said.

That was not the only news of the day made by a Jennings as newly signed recruit Ali Jennings, no relation but also a wide receiver from Virginia, revealed at his signing announcement that Holgorsen told him he planned to take over as offensive coordinator and play caller next season.“Coach Holgorsen is going to be the head coach and the new OC,” Jennings said.

Asked about it at Wednesday’s press conference, Holgorsen hedged off that . . . but did not deny that was in his plans and sounded as if he were eager to take on the challenge again that he had ceded to offensive coordinator Jake Spavital last season.

“I want to win, so whatever we have to do to win,” Holgorsen said.

He admitted he is having a good time with it now and, when it was pointed out to him that he sounded as if he wanted to do it, he answered:

“I’ve got a fairly decent history of calling plays that work, I’ve got a history of calling plays that don’t work. We’ll see how it goes. I’m enjoying it, I like doing it. Deep down inside, I can do as much of the CEO crap as I want to; I like football, and I like calling plays, and I like coaching offense. It’s what our teams needs me to do right now, and that’s what I’ll do.

If Holgorsen goes back to the way it was, it would open up a coaching spot for quarterback coach, which Spavital also handled. For the bowl game running back coach Marquel Blackwell is filling in, being a former QB.

* * * * * *

Holgorsen also had news on the quarterback front.

With Grier not playing, Holgorsen said he would play both backup Jack Allison and freshman Trey Lowe III in the bowl game.

With the change in the redshirt rule this year, which allow freshmen to play up to four games without losing their redshirt season, Lowe would still have years of eligibility and it would give him a chance to get game experience and also for the coaching staff to get a good look at where he is right now.

Allison is more a pure passer while Lowe is better in the QB run game, so Holgorsen will be given a number of alternatives in running his offense.

* * * * * *

Grades came out on Tuesday and Holgorsen was literally gushing over the classroom performance of his team.

“I couldn’t be more excited,” he said. “Everyone is eligible for the bowl. The team had a 2.98 grade point average, the highest ever. That’s higher than I used to get. We had zero Fs.

“There were 66 players with 3.0 grade point or higher, more than half the team. It’s unreal.”

WVU graduated another seven football players recently and had 10 playing through the year with degrees.

“I haven’t ever seen a situation like this,” Holgorsen said.

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