MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen took the podium Monday morning for his second press conference of fall camp. Here’s a brief recap, with a full transcript coming later.
• Today is practice No. 5, full pads and hitting. “Kids get fired up” about all that. Good practices the last two days, “lot of energy out there, and even a few fights, which is fun to watch.”
• Defense: “After four days they’re doing a lot of good stuff.” Thinks it’s a simpler approach; lining up quickly, using a lot of bodies and repping four deep. Until today, the first day of tackling, you can’t tell all that much.”
• Depth: All positions are deeper; only two true freshmen (Henry, Crest) in the two-deep. Crest is taking some second-team reps. “It’s night and day compared to the past.”
• Tackling: NCAA recommendation is 12 days, “which I think is about right.” Camp is designed to keep guys healthy, so there’s plenty of recovery time.
• Crest: Don’t really need to try to rush him along, “because we’ve got our starter.” Trickett plus Millard, who has repped more than anyone in his career, make it less urgent. … “The plays we call when William is here are not the same ones we call when Clint is out there. You have to simplify. You can overload a guy.” Notes that the past two Heisman winners redshirted as freshmen.
• Special teams: At returner, which “is a huge emphasis for us right now,” Worley, Gibson, Shell have returned before and are quality bodies who can compete for kick return. Thompson, Alford are returning as kick returners. “We didn’t find out who our two best returners (Smallwood and Alford) were until about midseason last year.”
• Downfield passing: “Clint is doing well at that. Mario and Kevin are light years ahead of where they were last year, technique-wise.” The timing and continuity is better, too.
• Alabama game: “I doubt we’ll be overlooking that one. My job gets harder after that game happens.” We haven’t talked a lot about our schedule. The motivation is probably different. "They’re a storied program, but so is Texas and” every team inBig 12. Every game is big. ... "We haven't talked about rankings. (Bama is No. 2) Don’t pay any attention to the rankings. Don’t pay any attention to what they think about us at this point, either. We’ll start preparing for those games two weeks out. … We play in one of the best conferences in the country, and we're playing maybe the toughest schedule in the country."
Close games: It's been an emphasis since January, learning to finish. Tired of talking about it? “It’s better than getting your ass kicked! We’re in a good conference. There’s gonna be close games.”
Team identity: Last year had to rely on the running game more than he’s used to. Now feels comfortable doing that. Sees Sims and Smallwood as very similar, very comparable. Sims left his mark here for the younger guys. “I think we can replace Charles with a combination of” the others.
Dayron Wilson: Saturday, defense closed by getting after offense pretty good. He made two or three good plays, an “unbelievable” interception and a TFL. Has stepped in well for K.J. Dillon. Rewarded him with scholarship after practice as well.
Jewone Snow: Best shape he’s ever been in. He’s not walking around with a red jersey. “He’s probably our most valuable special teams player, at this point.” Is on six special teams units.