WVU’s Holgorsen Upbeat As Bowl Preparation Opens in Orlando
ORLANDO, Fla. — With sunny skies and moderate temperatures right at the 70 degree mark, West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen was in a good mood as his team convened for its first practice in Florida for Friday’s Camping World Bowl.
“I’m a weather man, but I don’t know if what we do is incredibly the right thing to do when it comes to our student-athletes. We had four good days before we came down here. Last week, the weather in Morgantown was unseasonably warm, so we got good work in. I don’t care what the weather is, it’s just all about getting in good, quality work. We had four good days in Morgantown, and then coming down here, we’ll have two good days, and then we’ll try to start backing off on them a little bit before the game. We’re happy to be here; everybody got here safe and sound, and we’re excited to be back in Orlando.”
Acclimation, long a trope of cold weather teams coming to play in southern bowl games, should not be an issue for either squad, as the forecast calls for temperatures in the same range the rest of the week.
Holgorsen also discussed the shifting methods in which teams get work for young players, and how the redshirt rule has changed what he has done throughout the season. His implementation of Thursday Night Football, in which backups and redshirts get far more work than in previous years, has spread out the work with those players over the course of the year. Not only does that help them have a more even preparation cycle, it also allows the coaches to identify those who might be ready to contribute in the latter stage of the season.
“I think 15 practices is extremely optimistic, even though that rule doesn’t exist anymore. We had a good week of practice in, and then we get down here and will have another good week of practice. That’s about the extent of it. I’ve been very encouraged with practicing these guys throughout the course of the year, we’ve got more developmental work throughout the course of the year than we ever have based on this new redshirt rule,” Holgorsen explained. “We can’t ignore guys that are redshirting anymore, and that’s been the case in the past, where you just focus on the guys that are playing and you try to develop them as much as you want to, but that’s really what the offseason is for. We’ve made a conscious effort this year to really focus on those guys that are redshirting and practice them more. So, that’s why I think you’re going to see about 10 guys that will probably take reps in this game that are all utilizing a redshirt rule. Whether any of them make plays or not, that is yet to be determined, but there are guys that I’ve been encouraged by.
“That’s the biggest thing that we did,” Holgorsen said of the Thursday night sessions. “You have to push coaches to be excited about that. A lot of our young coaches did a good job with coaching guys up, but just because it was such an emphasis on coaching them hard and teaching them what to do because later in the year, we’ll be able to play them. We’ve had hundreds of more snaps on that Thursday Night Football than we ever have in years past. So, we got guys ready to play, I think, quicker than what happened in the past.”
That work may pay dividends with the quarterbacks, as those sessions were quarterbacked by Jack Allison and Trey Lowe, both of whom will play in the Camping World Bowl against Syracuse.
“(Jack) was always in there with the backups, and the backups are Sam (James) and Bryce (Wheaton) and Dom Maiden and Tevin (Bush) and Jovani (Haskins). He’s been throwing it to Jovani for three years now. I like what I see, I’m encouraged by it. We have to block well up front, and those guys are doing a good job up front. We have to get the run game going with these backs that we have, but what Syracuse does is they take away the run. They’re going to put more people in the box than we can block, so that makes that pass game all the more important.”