West Virginia opened fall camp today in Morgantown. Here's the transcript from coach Dana Holgorsen's press conference, as transcribed by the WVU athletic department.
We had a good first day. Everybody in the country has a good first day, I promise you that. The guys were pretty fired up about being out there. We had good energy and got done what we wanted to get accomplished. It’s non-padded, non-contact, but I thought it went well. A couple of deals here – I know you guys were going to ask. There are three guys who are not here – actually five guys who are not here – three guys who are on the physically unable to perform list. They are here, but they can’t participate. (Wide receiver) Jackie Marcellus had knee surgery, so he is out until January. (Offensive Lineman) Amani Brown is still recovering from knee surgery. He will more than likely be practicing the first day of school. (Offensive Lineman) Russell Haughton-James is not able to go right now. He will probably be back the first day of school. We are still waiting on (Offensive Lineman) Dontae Angus and (Wide Receiver) Jacob McCrary for eligibility situations. Injuries: (Linebacker) KJ Dillon is out probably for about a week or so. He’s got a twisted ankle. It happened on his break, when he was gone for five days, but we will be good to go in about a week. (Linebacker) Brandon Golson is recovering from that shoulder surgery. He looks good out there. He will just have to be non-contact for a while. (Linebacker) Jared Barber is still in red and probably don’t anticipate him to be able to go for probably about another month. Other than that, everybody looks good. I thought we’ve had a great summer. I thought Strength Coach Mike Joseph and the strength staff have done a great job getting these guys ready to play. I sense that our bodies look different than they have since I’ve been here. We have a lot of numbers, and we have a lot of healthy bodies. That makes it fun and exciting as we continue to move forward with camp.
On Offensive Lineman Walter Rauterkus
He decided not to play football. He was here during the summer and decided this wasn’t for him. He went home, and he is no longer on the team.
On Defensive Back Jaylon Myers
Still waiting. I don’t want to really comment on it. But we’re still waiting.
On if an emphasize was placed on bulking up physically in the offseason
No. I think strength coach Mike Joseph’s plan of attack this season was very similar to last season. I think our attitude, our mentality – it means a lot to us. The commitment level from our guys I thought was as high as it’s been since I’ve been here for sure.
On what Safety Dravon Henry has done to prove his value
We worked with him all summer. We weren’t able to work with a specific ball, but we were able to sit in here and meet with them. We were able to go outside and be a part of the conditioning stuff, which could be part of conditioning or changing-direction type stuff. We were able to do some specific technique-type stuff with them. It just seems like it’s easier to go out there day one because of the stuff we were able to do with them all summer. We’re not the only ones – that’s everyone in the country obviously. Especially with these young guys, it’s not just brand new to them. Even take a guy like Quarterback William Crest, as well. We been able to coach them in our offseason for the last two months. The things we’ve been saying to them today – he’s already heard it for two months. It definitely gets them ahead, and it gives us an evaluation of these guys. That hasn’t existed in the past.
On Henry’s abilities that have impressed the staff
He’s big and fast and has a good mentality. He picks things up pretty quickly. He’s ahead of the curve for a true freshman, that’s for sure.
On Defensive Lineman Shaquille Riddick and Offensive Lineman Stone Underwood
We lined up Riddick as a third-team defensive end. Stone Underwood is our next offensive linemen in the game. He’s the next guy in. He plays center, and he plays guard. There are unknowns because we were not able to work with Shaq throughout the summer, because he just graduated. Today was the first time that we looked at him in person. He was running third team.
On Running Back Wendell Smallwood
Wendell Smallwood is where he was at the end of camp. He had a great summer. Obviously, he was not with us for about a 10-day period. He is an integral part of what we’re going to be doing offensively. It’s hard to put these running backs on an actual depth chart right now, because we’ve got so many of them. We’re going to be able to rep them and rep them and rep them and kind of sort out which guys do what, figure out what our game plan is going to be, then plug these guys in as we see fit. It’s really hard to develop a depth chart a running back.
On if the Decrease in Contact in Preseason Going to Impact Preparation
I don’t think it’s going to affect us at all. I went back and looked at how many times we actually tackled last fall in our camp, and we actually tackled on 13 of the days. This year we can only tackle on 12 of the days. Again, I could have them tackle everyday if I really wanted to. It’s not legislation, it’s just a recommendation, but we’re going to follow the recommendation. I don’t think it’s going to affect us at all. We will still have 12 days where we can tee it up and tackle. We’ll still be in pads for, I think, three, or four, or five days. We won’t take them to the ground, but there will still be some contact.
On the Options at Inside Wide Receiver Without Jacky Marcellus
It’s (the depth) still better than it’s been since I’ve been here. (Wide receiver) Jordan Thompson looks good. (Wide receiver) Daikiel Shorts looks good. Those two guys were our two inside guys last year. We’re trying (Wide Receiver) KJ Myers a little bit right there. KJ has been around more than any receiver that we’ve had. He’s going into his fourth year here, so he knows every position. He’s got the body type where he can play inside or outside. (Wide Receiver) Lamar Parker is an inside guy. Lamar made some plays today that surprised me, so he’s another option. All those running back guys – We’ve talked about (running back) Wendell Smallwood being an inside receiver. We’ve talked about (running back) Andrew Buie doing a good job at being an inside receiver. (Tight End/Fullback) Cody Clay has done a good job at being an inside receiver. We’ve got more options than we’ve had since I’ve been here.
On the Chemistry that has been Developed
There is a comfort level that exists right now that I’m very pleased with. Our coaching staff has a great relationship with each other. The chemistry with our coaching staff – I couldn’t be more pleased with. We’ve been able to spend more time with our players. We’ve got a full roster. We sat in here and taught our punt team today, and the entire two-deep was the same entire two-deep that it was last year. We led the conference in net punting, and we weren’t teaching any new guys today. The chemistry and the continuity right now is better than it’s been since I’ve been here.
On the Experience of the Team in General
We’re sitting at about 20 seniors. There was a point where I didn’t know if we would have 10 seniors in this class. Adding some transfers, getting some kids to stay here, adding some junior college guys, and those guys doing a good job academically has put us in a position where we have a decent senior class. The junior class is the one that’s the biggie. There are 27-28 guys there that have played and are going on their third year now. When we didn’t want to play them as the freshmen, the one thing it gave us was them going into their junior year with a lot of snaps.
On Quarterback Clint Trickett
His sense of urgency, the way he’s reading signals and getting the ball snap is night and day compared to what it was at any point last year. It’s just nice to be able to not have to coach a guy every single play. You can call it, and he does it, and you just move on to the next one. He’s in a good place, and we will continue to develop his leadership skills and his continuity with the rest of the receivers. There’s a real comfort level right now with him and (center) Tyler Orlosky and the receivers that exists right now that didn’t exist at any point last season.
On Quarterback Clint Trickett Avoiding Hits and Staying Healthy
We will study that on film today, even with it being non-contact. He’s still going to have to understand – ‘I didn’t trigger the ball here, and I would have gotten hit. I worked out of the pocket and tried to get away from a defender, and I didn’t throw it when he got within an arms reach of me.’ – we will be able to work on that through reps, even though the defense won’t touch him this camp. We will be able to say ‘Look, man. You should have done this to avoid that hit.’ He needs to continue to improve on that.
On Quarterback Logan Moore
He does everything for us. He’s got a role on this team. He’s an extra arm, he’s an emergency quarterback, he’s an inside receiver, and he’s a special teams player. He’s a guy who’s just a role player, and we’re glad he’s here.
On Quarterback William Crest’s First Day
His head is spinning. We have to force-feed him reps. He just looks different than anyone else out there. He’s going to make a ton of mistakes, and it’s our job to keep him up and keep coaching him. He’s big, he’s fast, he’s strong, and he’s got a good arm. There’s a reason we recruited him for three years.
On Social Media Among Players
We talk to them all the time. (Director of Football Communications) Mike Montoro talked to them about it last night. I reiterated everything he said. Our coaches follow each and every one of our players. If you abuse it, it’s going to be gone. They chose to play at West Virginia University. We can do what we want about social media. Our guys are pretty good about it. I’m sure you follow a lot of these guys. We try to keep our eye on it. If guys aren’t representing West Virginia University, West Virginia Football and West Virginia athletics the way that they’re supposed to, then there will be repercussions with it.
On Safety Cullen Christian
He’s a guy we haven’t seen much of. We had Dayron Wilson at the one today. Dayron has done a good job for us. He was a walk-on, junior college guy from Lackawanna who may have been their best defensive player a year ago. He had a good spring. He’s repping there, and Cullen is repping there as well.
On if the close losses a year ago serve as frustration or motivation
Our team feels like we’re better at every position. You can make an argument that we are. We lost two guys to the NFL who are great players. We may have to replace those guys with the combination of a couple guys. They’re definitely using it as motivation. Definitely disappointing that we didn’t win some of those close games, and we’re not very happy about it. We have worked diligently to get ourselves in position and show improvement.
On if bad habits were limited on day one after individual workouts over summer
There are always bad habits. When you can’t use a ball and can’t go against each other during the summer, then you have to work those bad habits out on day one. I see a difference in their mentality. We’re coaching them how to do it - how to do it better. Bad habits are always going to exist. The mental aspect of it – I see a big difference. Maybe that’s just because we have a lot experience back.