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Coach Holgorsen looks ahead to spring practice

MORGANTOWN, W.Va.–Coach Dana Holgorsen addressed the media Thursday afternoon as the football team’s spring practice nears. Coach Holgorsen’s team and staff have undergone a few changes since the end of the 2016 season, as usually happens. Thursday, the head coach addressed new staff additions, the nature of this year’s spring practices, players preparing for the NFL combine and where the teams stands in preparation for the 2017 season.

Holgorsen started off his conference by congratulating Coaches Huggins and Carey on their basketball seasons and wished them luck on their trips to the post-season. Holgorsen also addressed the spring practice changes for the team, with keeping spring practice on campus in Morgantown, as opposed to traveling around the state of West Virginia. The head coach stressed the importance of life as a student-athlete for his players, “Once football kicks in, we can go six days a week, we can keep them for 20 hours a week. We won’t even hit that number. Trying to give these guys as much player time as we can. Going Tuesdays and Thursdays, we’ll give them off, completely off from football on Fridays and Saturdays, and then practice Sunday night with the exception of the spring game, it will obviously be on a Saturday. I think that will be good for those guys just trying to get away from it a little bit and focus on academics and be normal kids, I think is important as well.”

The combine is at the end of March and Holgorsen seems optimistic for his former players as the NFL draft looms near. “I think we’ll have success when the draft rolls around. This time of the year everybody goes, “Oh my God, how are we going to replace these guys?” Well we’ve seemed to do it pretty successfully each and every year. Been improving here over the course of the last three or four years, so I don’t anticipate this year being any different.”

Coach Holgorsen is very excited about the return of his old pal Jake Spavital to the Mountaineers coaching staff. “Offensively, obviously excited about having (Assistant Coach Offensive Coordinator/Quarterback) Jake (Spavital) back. He’s going to take control of the offense, and we’ve been in a lot of meetings in the last four or five weeks, trying to figure out exactly what direction we’re headed.” Holgorsen pointed out that he is working with Spavital to figure out the offense’s identity going forward and that he has full faith in Spavital’s leadership . . . Jake has done a great job at taking control of that room, and I trust him to be able to call the plays the way that we want to get things done.”

Coach Holgorsen sounds confident and somewhat excited to be turning over the play calling to Coach Spavital this season. The head coach expressed his desire to be in more of a CEO role for his team, and again expressed his trust in his coaching staff across the board.

“You want to live. Want to live a long, happy, healthy, life. I had (WVU athletics photographer) Dale Sparks, he dropped off some pictures for me of my family pictures, I have a line of them in my house now. It’s the first time I looked at them over six years, I look different now than I did six years ago. No, but it’s just the right time, it makes sense, more of a CEO type guy. You have to spend as much time recruiting as you possibly can, fundraising is a big part of what we do, the game management aspect of it although I don’t think it’s been bad, and I think (Tony) Gibby (Gibson) will be the first to tell you that we’ve done some things offensively that have helped win 10 games, it’s hard to do. Just being able to oversee everything and live a happy life. I’m not nearly as grey as what (George W.) Bush turned over the course of eight years, but I still have two more years to get there.”

Coach Holgorsen has always had a dry sense of humor, especially when talking of himself or his looks (meaning his hair), so it is interesting to see the head coach comment on the wear the head coaching job and play calling can take on someone, especially himself

On defense, Coach Holgorsen commented on the longevity of his most-tenured coach, Tony Gibson, and all he has to offer the program. “Defensively, obviously (Associate Head Coach Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers) Tony (Gibson), he’s the most tenured coach on the staff now – he reminded me of that this morning. The only coach on our staff who is from West Virginia, he will recruit West Virginia. It’s a hot bed in recruiting right now, right? So have a lot of guys who are in West Virginia and there is nobody better to recruit those kids than Tony, but fourth year as being the defensive coordinator. I think that speaks volumes for where were are continuity wise.”

Recruiting at this level is a near-constant matter, especially when players come and go from a team. Coach Holgorsen and his staff are still in search of more quarterbacks for the team, pointing out the two recent losses at that position. “Will wants to go play quarterback somewhere, he’s going to drop down and go play quarterback, and I wish him nothing but success and will probably stay in touch with William for the rest of my life, and then Ferns wants to be an engineer so he’s burned out, and he wants to focus on what’s going to be a big part of his life moving forward, so I wish those guys luck. When you lose guys like that then you have to go replace them and our number is five at quarterback right now, and we only have three, so we have to go add two. We’re looking right now.”

Holgorsen’s conference had the overall tone of a relaxed, positive atmosphere. The head coach is well settled in his career as the Mountaineers head coach and it seems as if his coaching staff feels settled and ready for the season as well. With September likely being here before we know it, the head coach ended his conference with a slight teaser for next season’s opener; ” . . . you know I’m going to try to keep some secrets from you guys between now and when’s the game in D.C? September 3rd. It’s a long ways from now, but we have to start planning now. I think we’re going to try to figure out who we are and have some surprises for that first game. It’ll be a big one. I’m looking forward to it. Buy some tickets.”

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