West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen joined the Big 12 media teleconference Monday morning.
Here’s what the head coach had to say five days before the Mountaineers open the season against William and Mary.
You said 10 days ago that you’d be antsy if you didn’t pick a starting quarterback by now. Have you made your decision yet?
“Haven’t picked one yet. Not as antsy as I thought I’d be with it. They’ve kind of risen their game a little bit and are battling. Had to kind of cut some of Ford’s reps just a little bit because the other two were playing a little better. I think Ford’s probably going to end up being a tremendous quarterback for us, no doubt. It’s just really hard to rep three quarterbacks, so we had to kind of narrow it down. Once we did that, both Clint and Paul looked good, so we felt like it was warranted to keep the competition going.”
Is there a chance come Saturday there could be some sort of quarterback rotation?
“If we were playing tomorrow, yes, that would be the case. They’ve both risen their game and are competing pretty good. How it plays out I don’t know yet. We thankful have practice Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday to see where we’re at.”
What has each guy done well?
“They both bring a little bit of something different to our offense. Paul knows the offense better. He’s a little more comfortable with the communication. He’s getting the calls from me and kind of knows where we want him to go with the ball a little bit better based on the amount of reps he’s had in this specific offense. Clint’s seasoned, has more game experience, has really good leadership skills, stays calm under pressure, keeps the play alive pretty good. They both bring something good to the table. Ultimately it’s about the guy that’s not going to make the mistakes, which is what our offense is about, distributing the ball to a bunch of different skill guys based on what the defense is giving us. Might take some game experience to figure out who is the guy. It might be a situation where they complement each other and we continue to rep both of them all year. Don’t know yet.”
How many receivers do you envision having in the rotation, ultimately?
“There’s always two deep, always has been two deep. We’ll play upwards of about eight. Once a guy establishes that he’s the main guy at that specific position then it reduces the backup reps, barring any injuries. The top-end guys that we had last year were just that much better than the other guys, so they played a considerable amount of snaps more than the backups did. But we always went into each game with about eight guys that were capable of playing. Right now it’s about 50/50 with all those guys at all four receiver spots, to be honest with you. Once we get into the games, I anticipate that one of those guys per position will rise up, which will give that specific kid the majority of the snaps.”
Why do you feel no one really knows what’s going to happen in the Big 12 this year?
“Just inexperience. Anytime you lose that many strong personalities that we had offensively. Our team was known for those strong personalities on offense. When those guys were gone then there’s the unknown that’s out there now. We’ve got a lot of bodies on the offensive side that are all capable of playing; nobody really knows who they are yet. It’s just going to take some games before people identify that. With the lackluster performance we had defensively on several different occasions, part of which comes from the dynamic offenses that exist in the Big 12. The majority of those [defensive] guys coming back will be a little bit better.”
What have you seen out of the defense that makes you confident it’ll be better this year?
“It’s a lot of the same guys who are just a year older, in their second year in the system, second year being comfortable with what coach [Keith] Patterson is trying to get accomplished. I think their knowledge of the defense is better, the experience is better. Last year we played eight to 10 true freshmen. This year we’ve added a couple freshmen that we feel pretty good about from a talent perspective and a couple junior-college guys that will give us more depth. There’s a bunch of different things, probably the biggest ones [are] being another year older and in the second year of the system.”
Andrew Buie was left off the depth chart; any explanation for that?
“No, not at this point. Both him and Dustin Garrison have proven to be guys that have got experience, but anytime you add the likes of Charles Sims and Dreamius Smith and Wendell Smallwood it’s going to change the dynamic of that room. We feel like we’re in pretty good shape at running back. If the last couple years have shown anything, you’re going to need more than one [back], that’s for certain. We feel pretty good about the depth at that position. We’ll line those guys up and see who gets the hot hand and try to get him the ball as much as we can.”
You didn’t name a kick-off man on the depth chart; are you still looking?
“Josh [Lambert] will be our place kicker. Mike Molinari will be the kick-off guy -- that was probably an error on my part getting the information to [sports information director] Mike Montoro. Molinari will be the kick-off guy, Nick O’Toole will be the punter and Josh will be the kicker. It’s kind of the way we wanted it to work out, but they had to prove it and win the jobs -- and they have.”
What did Wendell Smallwood to win your confidence and deserve the No. 2 running back spot?
“He has grown up a lot in the last seven months. He’s a guy who was here in January, remember, so he’s been through a spring practice, been through an off-season, been through summer conditioning and shown a lot of maturity and improvement from spring practice to now. Probably the thing that distinguishes him from the rest of them is the speed at which he plays. He’s the fastest guy we’ve got back there. He plays fast on a consistent basis better than the other guys. How much he’s going to get the ball? I don’t know. We’ve got a bunch of bodies back there, and they’ll all get a chance to get in there and show everybody what they can do.”
Any update on Shaq Petteway?
“Petteway is out. He tore an ACL, so he’s going to miss the season. Shaq is going to be shelved for the year. He does have a redshirt year, so this will serve as his redshirt year just like Nana [Kyeremeh] -- those are the two guys that we lost during camp.”