MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen brought a sense of humor to his Thursday presser ... you'll remember that this happened his previous time on the podium and spun so wildly and rapidly out of control that Holgorsen released a statement Wednesday night.
"OK, I'm all out of statements," he said as he stepped to the mic, "so we will open it straight up to questions and let Mr. Nesbitt go first."
There were a few scattered laughs, and I started into a question about Dravon Henry and Jeremy Tyler jockeying for position at free safety: "Dana, do you like what you've seen lately in the ba—"
He cut the question off with a smile, wave and "We'll take the next question, please."
Well planned, Coach, and well played.
With that, let's get back to football and fall camp. Here's a quick breakdown of Holgorsen's presser, as colorful and entertaining as ever.
POSITION BATTLES | Beyond the free safety position, he is still looking for a second starting cornerback. Daryl Worley has locked down one spot. Ishmael Banks started all 12 games at cornerback last season, making 32 tackles and two interceptions, but is apparently getting pushed for playing time. ... There will be battles going on in the linebacker corps, too. Brandon Golson is in a green jersey and should be cleared in about a week. Nick Kwiatkoski has been out about a week, which has given Al-Rasheed Benton and Edward Muldrow plenty of snaps. Not sure what the rotation will be yet.
RUNNING BACKS | Still figuring the depth chart out, but Dreamius Smith "had a good day the other day." And, really, "whoever we put down on paper as far as who the starter is, I don't think that's going to be an indication of how many reps they're going to get. Whoever gets the hot hand, whatever our game plan is going to be, they're versatile and can do different things. Everyone wants to know who the starter is, but what's probably more important is how many snaps they'll get throughout the course of a game. Don't have an answer for that yet."
CAMP CHANGES | Has changed a few things this year, but not necessarily actual fall camp stuff. "What we changed more than anything is what's going to happen next week. Last year we had a pretty heavy first week of school Tuesday through Saturday, those days were pretty heavy and I feel like we were tired going into game week. We're going to practice a true game week next week." That means a heavy Tuesday, padded practice Wednesday, then "teach them how to practice Thursday, how to practice Friday, how to travel Friday, and then how to have a game day on Saturday. I think that'll help us get our legs underneath us better."
OFFENSE NOW VS. 2013 | "It was miserable. Those dynamics I don't anticipate ever happening again in the next 30 years of coaching, or however long I'm fortunate enough to coach." Had three new coaches, had issues at QB, had six or seven skill position players who were in their first year in the program. "It's just a dynamic that's not good." ... "I think we're way ahead of where we were a year ago. But time will tell." ... This year is more relaxed. "There's familiarity with everything. With personnel, with coaches, with the scheme. We know who our starters are on offense, we know who's gonna play. Those guys know what the offense is: we're not teaching them what to do. We were teaching guys what to do Game 8, 9, 10, 11 last year. At this point in time offensively we're not teaching anybody what to do. ... They're learning nuances of where they're supposed to be and how they're supposed to get there as opposed to where to go and all that It's a big difference, night and day."
SITUATIONAL OFFENSE | Says the real topic is offensive efficiency. "We were middle of the pack last year on offensive yards per game, yards per play, but dead last in the stuff that matters: third downs, fourth downs, turnover margin, and score-zone rate. Good offenses are the ones that are extremely efficient in those situations. Everybody is good enough to get yards and first downs. It's the great offenses that are able to be efficient when it really matters." Can't tell if that'll be improved until the games actually happen, though. "Being able to execute efficiently when things are extremely hard is what good teams are made of." ... On two-minute drill, "they have to be able to think when they're dog tired. We're getting them in game shape and putting them in positions where they don't have time to think about it, they're just got to react to it."
TEMPO | "I'm very happy with it." Worked two-minute drill the other day for the first time "and it was like we'd been doing it all along. The worst thing to do when you kinda stink on offense is to go fast. Because then it just stinks real quick."
RUN/PASS RATIO | "We want to be able to do both. We couldn't do either last year." It all depends on what the defense gives you. "If they outnumber you in the box, we're not going to sit there and run it into people that are unblocked."
SCHOLARSHIP | Put redshirt senior offensive lineman Michael Calicchio on scholarship this week, the 83rd man on scholarship. "Such a good story. This big giant of a man who was awful five years ago when he showed up. Couldn't walk and chew gum at the same time. Because of his hard work on the field and off the field ... he's one of our leaders on the entire team right now. When he talks, people listen." Can play guard or tackle.
QUARTERBACKS | Paul Millard is "obviously the most game-ready" of the backups, but no decision has been made yet on who is No. 2. William Crest will continue to rep. "His ceiling is high. How far he can advance? I don't know yet." ... Asked about the Wildcat offense, "I've never done it. Not to say I'm against it." Hasn't had a guy that can do it, and "discard last year" he's always had a starting quarterback who was "the main guy and was pretty good that we didn't want to take off the field, period." Thinks it can be "harmful" and disruptive to bring a starter off the field like that. "When you've got a clear-cut main guy, which at this point Clint [Trickett] is — Clint is playing extremely well — there's a comfort level he has that is positive ... pulling him off the field would not be the appropriate thing to do at this point in time."
SPECIAL TEAMS | Has lots of confidence in the special teamers. "Coach [Joe] Deforest has a plan and is pretty good at what he does. That's widely known across the country." ... "I've got a lot to worry about, but [special teams] is one area I don't feel like I really need to worry about." ... "They're a bunch of goof balls." Kicker Michael Molinari "did a big chest bump and twisted his ankle, so we had to remind them that they have a job they have to do." He'll be fine. Molinari is expected to be the kickoff man.
INJURIES | LB Jared Barber "is not going to be ready. It's unfortunate; he's such a good team leader. He'll still have that role as team leader. He gets down there and coaches the heck out of the linebackers. ... If he doesn't get back to where he's able to play this year then a year from now he's going to be excited about being a fifth-year senior and being able to graduate with 25 of the guys he came in with." ... Other than Barber and Jacky Marcellus, its' day-to-day injuries. "The list grows and shrinks every day."