With spring ball around the corner I will get this thread started
With spring ball around the corner I will get this thread started
WVU Officially Announces Addition Of Patterson
West Virginia University football coach Dana Holgorsen has announced that Keith Patterson will join the Mountaineer coaching staff. Holgorsen will announce the coaching responsibilities of his new hires once his staff is complete.
Patterson comes to West Virginia after serving as the defensive coordinator and linebackers coach at Pitt during the 2011 regular season and taking on the added responsibility as the interim head coach for the BBVA Compass Bowl in January.
“Keith has had a lot of successful years coaching at some great programs, both at the college and high school levels,” Holgorsen said. “His years of experience in developing players and defenses will be an invaluable resource to our program, while his background in Texas and Oklahoma will only add to our recruiting efforts."
Patterson brings 25 years of coaching experience at the high school and collegiate levels. At the collegiate level, he has helped lead two programs to seven bowl games, coached 13 all-conference selections, three All-Americans and has sent two players to the National Football League.
“Working at a place like West Virginia University with all of its history and tradition is a great opportunity for me,” Patterson said. “Coming off a conference championship and the Orange Bowl win, it’s an exciting time here, and now we have an even greater opportunity as we head into our first year in the Big 12 Conference. I have great respect for Coach Dana Holgorsen and what he has accomplished, and I appreciate and look forward to being a member of the Mountaineer football staff.”
In 2011, the Pitt defense was ranked No. 3 nationally in sacks (3.31), tied for No. 12 in tackles for loss (98),
No. 14 in defensive third-down efficiency (32.98), No. 21 in rushing defense (116.9), No. 35 in total defense (350.62) and No. 38 in scoring defense (22.4). The Panther defense placed five players on the Big East All-Conference teams and had one earn All-American honors.
Prior to Pitt, Patterson spent eight years at Tulsa, including the final five seasons in which he served as the co-defensive coordinator. He coached the linebackers from 2003-05, 2007-08 and 2010 and the safeties in 2006 and 2009. He was an integral part of the Golden Hurricane’s success during his tenure, helping lead Tulsa to 65 wins, one Conference USA championship, three division championships and six bowl appearances.
In 2010, he helped mold a defense that led the country in interceptions (24) and ranked third in turnovers gained (36). The Hurricane faced No. 24 Hawai’i in the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl and defeated the Warriors, behind the defense’s six turnover effort, including five interceptions.
His 2008 defense was No. 13 nationally in sacks and No. 37 in rushing defense. In 2006, Tulsa’s defense led Conference USA in total defense and pass defense under Patterson’s guidance. Tulsa was second in scoring defense and third in rush defense. The Hurricane ranked 11th nationally in pass defense and 21st in total defense, allowing only 159.2 passing yards and 296.8 total yards.
In 2005, he was instrumental in helping the Tulsa defensive unit rank among the tops in C-USA and nationally. That year, Tulsa was first in C-USA for takeaways , pass defense and pass defense efficiency; second in total defense and third in scoring defense.
Patterson came to Tulsa with 16 years coaching experience as a high school coach in Oklahoma and Texas. He spent two years (2000 and ‘02) as linebackers, defensive backs and special teams coach at Allen (Texas) High School. He also coached at Allen High School from 1995-96.
Before that, he was the head football coach at Ardmore (Okla.) High School for three seasons (1997-99). At Ardmore, Patterson led his team to the District 5A-1 Championship in 1999, while earning district coach of the year honors.
In 1994, Patterson was the head coach at Edmond Santa Fe (Okla.) High School. Prior to that, he served as defensive secondary coach at Edmond Memorial High School for two seasons (1992-93). He began his high school coaching career in 1988 at Altus (Okla.) High School, where he coached the outside linebackers and defensive backs for four years. He helped lead Altus to a state runner-up finish in Class 4A, while helping Edmond Memorial to a Class 6A runnerup finish in 1993.
He received his bachelor’s degree in health, physical education and recreation from East Central (Okla.) University in 1986. Patterson was a four-year letterman at defensive back at ECU from 1982 through 1985. In 1986, he served as a graduate assistant coach at his alma mater. Patterson earned his master’s degree in kinesiology and sport studies in 2003 from Texas A&M University-Commerce.
Patterson, and his wife, Melissa, have two daughters: Fallon and Erin; and stepdaughter, Bretlie and stepson, Kelby.
WVA, what is former coach Stewart doing now? Does he still work for the university in some capacity? The guy has just fallen off the radar since getting booted.
Thats the only thing I could find on him, To tell the truth I was glad he was gone and have not kept up with him
Stewart probably wasn't the right choice to replace Rich Rods but from everything I've heard about him, he is a good coach. Being an assistant and head coach is like day and night. Big difference and some have it and some don't.
I think the university paid him around $1 million to go away so he's not starving anyway.
Slaughter Officially Joins WVU's Staff
West Virginia University football coach Dana Holgorsen has announced that Erik Slaughter will join the Mountaineer coaching staff. Holgorsen will announce the coaching responsibilities of his new hires on Monday, March 5.
“Erik brings an extensive background with more than 20 years of coaching experience to the Mountaineer staff,” Holgorsen said. “Having spent his entire career as a coach and a recruiter in the state of Texas also gives him an outstanding knowledge and extensive network base that will increase our recruiting efforts in the Southwest as we enter the Big 12 Conference. I look forward to having him on the coaching staff here.”
Slaughter brings 22 years of coaching experience at the high school and collegiate levels. At the collegiate level, he has coached nine all-conference selections, three All-American honorees and has sent two players to the National Football League.
“It’s a great time at West Virginia University, coming off the Orange Bowl victory and heading into the Big 12 Conference this coming season,” Slaughter said. “WVU is one of the top programs in the nation, and I am excited to work with Coach Holgorsen and be part of the Mountaineer coaching staff. I look forward to helping the WVU football program carry on its strong tradition.”
He comes to West Virginia after serving as the defensive line coach at Stephen F. Austin for the past three years. During his time with the Lumberjacks, Slaughter helped lead SFA to a 25-11 record, two Southland Conference titles and two appearances in the NCAA FCS playoffs. The SFA defense finished with at least 40 sacks each year, the only team in the nation to accomplish that feat.
In 2011, Stephen F. Austin led the nation in sacks (48) and tackles for loss (112). The Lumberjacks were No. 14 in total defense and No. 24 in rushing defense. Under his direction, Slaughter helped convert Willie Jefferson from a tight end into one of the nation's top defensive ends. Jefferson was named the 2011 Southland Conference Player of the Year after leading the league with 16 total sacks. Along the way he set an SFA single-game record with 4.5 sacks against McNeese State, only to follow that up by tying the conference record (5.0) in the season finale at Northwestern State.
Malcolm Mattox was another leader on the 'Jacks' defensive front in 2011. As a sophomore, he earned second-team All-Southland Conference honors after finishing second only to Jefferson in the league in sacks. It marked the second-straight year that SFA has produced the league's top two sack leaders.
In 2010, Slaughter took Kenneth Charles, who spent the previous three seasons as an interior lineman, and turned him into a defensive end. Charles was selected for first-team All-SLC honors and earned All-American distinction. He capped a career year, finishing among the nation's top 15 in sacks and tackles for loss.
In his first season in Nacogdoches, Slaughter helped produce one of the nation's top defensive players in defensive end Tim Knicky. A two-time All-American and four-time all-conference selection, Knicky battled through injuries his senior season to record 15 tackles for losses, and finish second in the nation with 12.5 sacks (1.04 pg). Knicky was among the players considered for the 2009 Buck Buchanan Award, an award given annually to the top defensive player at the NCAA FCS level. The 2009 SLC Defensive Player of the Year, Knicky graduated from SFA as the school’s all-time sack leader.
Prior to his stint at Stephen F. Austin, Slaughter was the defensive coordinator and linebackers coach at Texas A&M Commerce for one year. One of his pupils, defensive lineman Ricky Hope was named to four All-American teams.
Slaughter spent three years as the linebackers and strength and conditioning coach at the University of Houston from 2003-06. He helped lead the Cougars to two bowl games in his three seasons, the 2003 Sheraton Hawaii Bowl and the 2005 Plains Capital Fort Worth Bowl. In 2004, Houston was No. 23 nationally in turnover margin. In 2005, outside linebacker Brendan Pahulu was No. 2 on the team with 94 tackles (22 solo, 72 assisted), as well as recording nine tackles for loss, four sacks and an interception.
He also served as the athletic director and head football coach at Glen Rose High in Glen Rose, Texas (2006-07), Springtown High in Springtown, Texas (2002), East Bernard High in East Bernard, Texas (2000-01) and Linden-Kildare High in Linden, Texas (1999). He was an assistant coach at Stephenville High in Stephenville, Texas, for nine seasons (1990-98).
While at Glen Rose, Slaughter led his squad to back-to-back district titles and an appearance in the 2007 state quarterfinals. Prior to his arrival at Springtown in 2002, the program had a three-year Class 3A record of 9-21, and in his first year, he guided them to the Class 4A state playoffs. He also helped lead Stephenville High to the Texas high school state championship in 1993, 1994 and 1998.
Slaughter graduated with his bachelor’s degree in physical education from Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Texas, in 1990.
He, and his wife, Shawna Marie, have three children, Seth, Paige and Bailey.
From One Side To The Other
Daron Roberts is back where he began his coaching career, on defense.
When spring practice begins for the Mountaineers on Sunday Roberts will be coaching the defensive backs. It’s the side of the ball he’s most familiar with since he played defensive back in high school and he also coached that position when he was with the Detroit Lions. It was a move WVU head coach Dana Holgorsen made after he hired his three new defensive coaches.
Roberts spent last year as the wide receivers coach and says spending one year on the offensive side of the ball and has helped him learn more about the defensive side of the ball.
“Receivers and corners are really two sides of the same coin,” explained Roberts. “I think you coach them very much in the same way and I really soaked up the offense the last year I was working with coach Holgorsen. Getting a chance to look and listen to how he would scheme for an opponent, week in and week out, really taught me a lot about offensive philosophy.”
“You don’t coach the guys any differently, but I think there’s a little added energy when it comes to the defensive side of the ball,” continued Roberts.
It wasn’t just spending one year on the offensive side of the ball that helped prepare Roberts for his move back to the defensive. The second year WVU assistant coach says watching and learning how Holgorsen prepares to take on a defense each week has helped him realize a few tips he can use on defense.
“The preparation I believe will really help me coach the corners and hopefully it will help us have some success on defense from a secondary stand point,” said Roberts.
“On the flip side. It’s my job now as a defensive coach to make sure our corners are always in the right position because they’re going to go against all types of offenses in the Big 12,” continued Roberts. “They’re going to be going at a fast pace and half of the battle is being able to get lined up quickly.”
Playing fast is another aspect Roberts wants to bring over to the secondary. Moving to the Big 12 Conference will be a big change for West Virginia and they will face faster and stronger offenses than they’ve faced in the Big East. Last season on offense, Roberts would work with the receivers on lining up fast and getting ready for the play. Tempo and speed is crucial to the success of Holgorsen’s offense. He wants to bring that kind of mentality to the cornerbacks.
“I think the importance of tempo is something that I understood from a defensive standpoint, but to really sit in an offensive meeting room and talk about how we can exploit a defense’s lack of discipline with tempo is something that really hit home to me,” said Roberts. “If you look at some of the opponents we had last year there were many times where our opponents weren’t even able to line up because we were going so fast.”
“The beauty of this situation is our offense does it,” continued Roberts. “So when we’re on 7-on-7s, when we’re in team run and team pass we’re going against a high tempo offense. It’s the best practice in the world.”
Spring Football Underway For WVU
It was near perfect weather on Sunday in Morgantown as West Virginia completed the first of 15 spring football practices. It was a mostly a light day overall as the team got settled into its new spring season.
“It was a good first day. We had really good energy, and it was good to get back out there,” said Mountaineer head coach Dana Holgorsen. “After eight weeks of offseason, lifting and running, it was good to get back out there and take advantage of working with them from a technique standpoint and assignment standpoint.”
For Holgorsen, it’s year to with his offensive system at West Virginia – something he said will allow his team to work on some of the more detailed parts of the offense with so many returning starters. Defensively, however, it’ll be a bit slower as West Virginia moves from a 3-3-5 to a 3-4.
“The roles have been flipped,” Holgorsen said. “We’ve got a long ways to go on both sides. Offensively, it’s a lot easier to coach them because of how they’re going, but defensively there was a lot of coaching because they didn’t know where they were going. It will be fun to see how that plays out, get back out there and have another day of non-pads and we can talk what real football looks like.”
West Virginia has five newcomers in drills for the spring – part of this past year’s recruiting class that will actually be counted to 2011 because they enrolled for the spring semester.
“They’re all lost. Three of them are on defense, and everyone is lost on defense right now based on it being the first day regardless if they’re a starter or upperclassman, freshman or new enrollee,” Holgorsen said. “Their heads are spinning a little bit. All of them were extremely attentive, they flew around, they were eager to learn. I was pleased with their attitude regardless if it was a new guy or a returning starter.”
One of those new guys, of course, is highly touted quarterback Ford Childress out of Texas.
"He has tremendous talent,” Holgorsen said. “He’s physically very imposing with a phenomenal arm, which is exactly what we knew when we recruited him. On understanding the offense, obviously he’s got a long ways to go.”
Another key note to Sunday was the return of Josh Jenkins on the offensive line – he missed all of last season after undergoing knee surgery.
“He looked good, and he was happy to be out there,” Holgorsen said. “You’ve got to consider him as a returning starter. He went through a whole spring last year and was sitting in on meeting during the season, so he knows what to do. He’s happy to be out there; we’ll get him back into shape, and we’ve got some time to do that. He’s been full-time since we got back from the bowl game, which is running and lifting. Not a whole lot you can do other than that.”
West Virginia also practices on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday of this week.
Head Coach Dana Holgerson overlooks his offense. This was the first spring practice of 2012
Matt Lindamood and Shawne Alston take off during a drill during the first football practice of 2012
Quinton Spain and Josh Jenkins collide during a drill. This was the first spring practice of 2012
Head Football Coach Dana Holgerson and Running Backs Coach Robert Gillespie oversee the first spring practice of 2012.
Defensive End Will Clarke finishes a drill during the first spring football practice of the 2012
Quaterbacks Paul Millard, Geno Smith and Ford Childress prepare to pass to receivers during the first spring practice of 2012.
Tavon Austin prepares to receive a punt in the first spring practice of 2012
Dana Holgorsen Spring Practice Quotes
West Virginia University
Spring Football Practice No. 1 - March 11, 2012
Football Coach Dana Holgorsen
It was a good first day. We had really good energy, and it was good to get back out there. After eight weeks of offseason, lifting and running, it was good to get back out there and take advantage of working with them from a technique standpoint and assignment standpoint. The bottom line is that it was the first day and without pads, but from an offensive perspective, it was where we were a year ago defensively. From a defensive perspective, it’s where we were offensively a year ago. The roles have been flipped. We’ve got a long ways to go on both sides. Offensively, it’s a lot easier to coach them because of how they’re going, but defensively there was a lot of coaching because they didn’t know where they were going. It will be fun to see how that plays out, get back out there and have another day of non-pads and we can talk what real football looks like.
On the weather
It was a beautiful day. It was awesome. We didn’t have one day like this last year. There was a big ole cloud above our head for a long time. It’s good that it is gone, and it was good to get out there. I didn’t think this weather existed here in March or April. We kicked around the Sunday thing for a long time. Just getting them back into the rhythm of a work week, I think is going to be good for us. Last year, we did mornings, which I didn’t like. Getting them back on Sundays, they don’t need to worry about school, but can be back ready for school on Mondays, study hall is open tonight, so they’ll get back to thinking about school on Monday morning. For every college kid across the country, it’s always been a struggle to get them thinking about school until they wake up on Mondays. That’s going to work out good for us.
On overseeing other segments of practice
I didn’t do that at all last spring. Throughout camp, I trusted these guys on the offensive side, which is why we hired them. It was easier. I understand the scheme a little better now, and the coaches a little bit better, and I understand the players a little bit better now. It’s more productive for me to go watch a drill or a segment.
On progress on day one for the mid-year enrollees
They’re all lost. Three of them are on defense, and everyone is lost on defense right now based on it being the first day regardless if they’re a starter or upperclassman, freshman or new enrollee. Their heads are spinning a little bit. All of them were extremely attentive, they flew around, they were eager to learn. I was pleased with their attitude regardless if it was a new guy or a returning starter.
On working with the offense for the second year and not having to install a new offense for the first time in three years
It felt good. I probably did less coaching today than I’ve done the last three springs. It was more like it was with Case Keenum coming back at Houston. After you’ve coached him for a year, you didn’t have to tell him a whole bunch. Back when we had Graham Harrell coming back for a second year, everything looked good. Geno looked poised, so we didn’t have to say a whole lot to him. It helps to have four linemen coming back that know what to do, five if you add Quinton Spain in there who took snaps for us. He had four receivers that he was throwing to, five with Ryan Nehlen, that all had taken reps in games. That makes it a lot easier. Then you have four or five backs that took reps last year. It’s a natural progression for year two. We’re really happy with where we’re at right now.
On having upperclassmen step up during the spring
It’s not as important now as it will be in the summer. We have 24 guys coming in this summer. We have two new guys out there right now, Jordan Thompson and Ford Childress. We’ve got 14 guys on offense coming in with a whole slew of receivers, which will give us a whole bunch of depth. The summer time is when it’s important. Right now is our time to coach whoever is out there. When June and July hit, there’s nothing we can do from a coaching standpoint. That’s when it’s important for the guys who go through spring to understand what we’re doing to coach those guys.
On being able to see who has developed over the offseason
All of them. We met on every kid this morning. We’re really pleased with Mike Joseph and his staff on what they did with these guys over the course of eight weeks. We feel that they’re all better physically than they were eight weeks ago. After the long grind of the season, you’ve got eight weeks to get them back into shape. We feel like we’re in pretty good shape right now. Over the next five weeks, hopefully we can maintain that and get better at playing football. The biggest gains from a physical standpoint come in June and July, because we can’t do anything with them from a football standpoint. You’ve got 10 weeks for getting after them from a physical standpoint.
On the progress of Josh Jenkins
He looked good, and he was happy to be out there. You’ve got to consider him as a returning starter. He went through a whole spring last year and was sitting in on meeting during the season, so he knows what to do. He’s happy to be out there; we’ll get him back into shape, and we’ve got some time to do that. He’s been full-time since we got back from the bowl game, which is running and lifting. Not a whole lot you can do other than that.
On how the new coaches are doing
They’re all hoarse right now. I actually have my voice right now. I usually can’t talk in these press conferences after practices. They’re the hoarse ones now. I just talked to all of them, and they couldn’t talk. We go so fast in between practice and in between plays that they don’t have a whole lot of time to coach, so they’ve got to yell. They’re hoarse.
On helping the defense progress
We’re baby-stepping them more than we did the offense. We threw a lot at them in three days, and we’re taking it more slowly with them than we were able to last year. Last year, defensively, we had a lot of returning guys in the system they had run for eight years. They were able to do a whole lot more early. Offensively, we throw a lot at them and keep repeating it, but defensively we’ll spoon-feeding them, and it may be three or four weeks into spring ball before we get the majority of it in.
On helping the offense keep focused knowing the defense is young
I’ll just have them watch the South Florida game or the Pitt tape. Our defensive guys are watching some of that Pitt tape, which naturally I see some of that just walking down the halls. I’ve got a couple tapes I can put on if I need to. It’s about live reps at game speed. When you get into game weeks, it’s more about preparation, but that’s not something that’s been discussed too much.
On receiver battles
We constantly evaluate them. J.D. Woods looked good today. I’ll probably kick myself by saying that. He looked good. Ivan McCartney looked good. Ryan Nehlen looked good. But it’s non-padded, so you’re supposed to look good. Those guys know where they’re going and from a tempo and timing standpoint, on the same page as Paul and Geno. They’re supposed to look good. It’s always, ‘What have you done for me lately?’ If somebody has a bad week, then we’ll replace them with somebody else pretty quickly. I don’t remember how many receivers we signed or how many we’ve got coming in, but there’s a reason we signed a whole bunch of them. That’s going to develop a whole bunch of depth come summer and fall camp.
On building off hunger from the bowl game
I saw it out there today not only from a team standpoint, but a confidence standpoint that came through lifting weights and the offseason competition and conditioning. The guys have gone to study hall and gone to class, so it’s all helped the program.
On a comfort level or sense of urgency on offense
There’s a lot of sense of urgency out there right now. One of the things we’ve talked about over the past nine weeks is if you think you’re comfortable with what we’re doing, then you’re going to get passed up. If you think you’ve got it figured out, that’s an on-going thing that will never change.
On Ford Childress absorbing the system
He has tremendous talent. He’s physically very imposing with a phenomenal arm, which is exactly what we knew when we recruited him. On understanding the offense, obviously he’s got a long ways to go. He looked like Paul did last year, when he first got here. I’m sure he looks like Geno did when he first got here. He’s a tremendous talent that’s going to take time and reps for him to be comfortable with it like Geno and Paul are.
Once we get pads on, there’s a lot more to talk about.
Q&A: West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen
By David Ubben
West Virginia are the new guys on the block in the Big 12, but its coach has been around the Big 12 block plenty. Dana Holgorsen did stints at Texas Tech and Oklahoma State (with Houston in between) before being named the Mountaineers' head coach.
The Mountaineers kicked off spring practice Sunday, but he took some time over the weekend while in New York for the Big East men's basketball tournament ("It's a great event. ... It's the Garden, man, and it's right in the heart of the Big Apple," he said) to talk to ESPN.com.
Portions of this interview were cut for length.
We missed you in the Big 12 last season, but it looks like we're getting you back, finally.
Dana Holgorsen: Yeah, I was only gone a year.
What's been the best part of this whole transition process?
DH: The transition really takes place next year, not this year, so we really haven't been -- it hasn't been a whole lot different right now. We're excited about it, no question. What's cool about it is I know what we're getting into. I've been at every venue, and I've seen every team. I know what's out there and I know what we've got to do to get better and be able to compete.
Missouri talked a bit about shifting its recruiting focus some from Texas into Atlanta and Florida. What have you guys done that you wouldn't traditionally be doing this time of year?
DH: Nothing, really. Our recruiting base is still going to be the same recruiting base. We have been getting into Texas some little bit and we'll continue to get into Texas. You've got to focus primarily on the Dallas and the Houston area that have the airport next to it so you can get back and forth pretty quick, so we're just going to go get a lot out of Florida. I think we took 12 out of Florida this year. There's a whole lot of pretty good football right around here in Pennsylvania and Ohio and Maryland and Virginia and we don't need to change where we recruit too much.
Seems like every school that leaves a league -- Nebraska and Colorado, for instance -- faces a different set of challenges. What do you see ahead as the biggest challenge for West Virginia?
DH: I don't care where you're at, everybody's challenged in facilities. You've got to make sure that you have the best and going into the Big 12, all Big 12 schools' facilities are as good as there is in the country. You've got to be able to keep up with whatever the other schools are doing just based on the recruiting aspect of things. That's a challenge that everybody has to figure out. Other than that, the program is in great shape, our kids are good and the support is good, where we're at and all that is in pretty good shape. It's just trying keep up with what everybody else is doing. It's an arms race, you know.
The history you do have in this league, where will that show up the most and be an advantage vs. entering this league with a coach that wouldn't have the experience you do?
DH: Like I said a minute ago, I just know what we're getting into. I'm very familiar with what every team does and I've hired a lot of coaches who understand how things work in the Big 12 and what schemes are and what players are like and what the atmospheres are like. There's not a whole lot of unknowns when it comes to me going to play other teams and other venues and all that. There's a whole lot of unknowns for the rest of the league having to come to Morgantown, because nobody's ever been here. So, I feel like that's an advantage for us.
You guys are obviously a big geographical outlier. You hear Louisville and Cincinnati's names come up when people talk Big 12 expansion. What are your thoughts on Big 12 expansion, specifically as it relates to other Big East teams?
DH: Obviously, it came down to Louisville and West Virginia to get in this past time, so if they do expand, I would assume that Louisville would be the first team that would get in. From a geographical standpoint, I think it'd be fantastic. The one thing that I think is pretty cool about 10 teams is you play every team. When you start getting into 12 teams and 16 teams, you don't play everybody. Last year in the Big East, with eight teams you played everybody and everybody knew who the best team was based on head-to-head matchups.
Back on the field, Jeff Casteel is gone, but with Keith Patterson and Joe DeForest taking over the defense, what can we expect?
DH: Familiarity with who we're playing is incredibly important. They're going to understand that side of the ball, the people and the players, the atmospheres, I mean, that was one of the reasons we hired who we hired; they were going to be familiar with the teams we're going to play. It's all about the one thing Joe preaches more than anything, which is not to worry about giving up a play. Everybody's going to give up a play in the Big 12. The offenses are so good, but if you give up a play, it doesn't mean that you're going to lose a game. Oklahoma State was fantastic with that last year with him and (defensive coordinator Bill) Young. They just keep playing and make a play at some point to win the game, get turnovers and play with tremendous effort no matter what happens.
The 3-3-5 stack has been pretty ingrained in West Virginia's identity. With the new guys coming in, does that mean the 3-3-5 is officially dead at West Virginia?
DH: Yeah, what's always given me the most problems is the 3-4. It's just a lot of movement and a lot of stemming and showing looks and not necessarily what you line up in is what you're going to get. I think the 3-4 gives you the best opportunity to do that. So, Oklahoma State did that a little bit with Joe, but Keith Patterson, from a front standpoint, has been doing that. I've coached against him the past four years at Tulsa, and between the two of them, they're going to put something out there that's pretty tough to play against.
Anything else I should know?
DH: (Quarterback) Geno (Smith)'s playing well. For his first offseason -- we didn't really have him last year because of a foot injury -- we're getting a lot of work out of him right now and he's really improving himself from a physical standpoint. I can't tell you how special I think Tavon Austin is. He's one of the most dynamic guys I've coached. We should get a little bit more out of him next year than we did this year. Those two guys are special. They've got a chance to make a difference in this league.
I'm excited to see those guys on a week-to-week basis. I'll be heading your way next month. I've never stepped foot in West Virginia, so I'm looking forward to it.
DH: It's a unique place, it really is. It's really, really, really pretty. There's all kinds of stuff going on and it's probably the best-kept secret in the United States. These people are pretty passionate. I'm telling you, you're going to see nothing but blue and gold when you step in this state.
A full offseason of work has helped QB Geno Smith, right, West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen said
Spring Football: Players Meet With The Media
West Virginia completed day two of spring practice on Tuesday in Morgantown – after drills, the players had their first opportunity to talk with the media since winning the Orange Bowl back in January.
One of the key stories of the spring is the return of offensive lineman Josh Jenkins who missed the entire 2011 season due to knee surgery – that coming from an injury suffered in the spring game last year.
“You never know when your last snap is,” Jenkins said. “Mine could have been last spring, so it definitely made me have more appreciation for the game and enjoy this more - you only get to do this once in a lifetime.”
While Jenkins didn’t get to play a down in 2011, he did get to take everything in and was still involved in learning West Virginia’s new offense from a year ago.
“I've been here for awhile - I'm an old man now,” he said. “They just got done with these plays, so I've watched their hand placements. Jeff Braun has been helping me out with the plays, and Joe Madsen has been telling me what I need to do on some plays, so it's definitely helping me now.”
Another guy who’s been in Morgantown for awhile is senior quarterback Geno Smith – he said it’s a significant difference this spring working head coach Dana Holgorsen’s offense compared with having to learn it all last season.
“I feel much more seasoned - I'm not trying to figure things out like I was last spring. I have a better understanding of the offense, and I can teach the younger guys a little bit more than I was able to in the past,” he said. “Overall, I think I'm doing a great job at making my reads, progressions, timing and footwork. I'm making sure I understand what I have to do as a leader, and I'm making sure the offense runs at a good tempo.”
Meanwhile, on the defensive side of the ball, the story there is obviously moving from a 3-3-5 to the 3-4. It’s a change that linebacker Doug Rigg said should be a smooth to make the transition.
“It's easier than the last defense I had to learn, but it's about getting out the stuff we learned in last year's defense and transitioning to this defense,” he said. “A lot of times, I'm doing stuff that would be right in other defenses but it's wrong in this one.”
West Virginia has practice again on Thursday.
Football Staff Asks Mountaineers to 'EAT' in 2012
MORGANTOWN - The Mountaineers are hungry and this fall, they intend to eat.
Or, to put it more accurately – they intend to E.A.T.
A new acronym, popular around these parts in the spring, whether showing up on shirts or in post-practice speeches, spells out the theme for the coming season in Morgantown.
The WVU football team will E.A.T. its way to success, assuming everyone can get on the same page as to what exactly that means.
"Effort, Intensity and Turnovers," junior cornerback Brodrick Jenkins said.
So eat is spelled with an "I?"
"What did I say? Effort, Aggressiveness and Turnovers," Jenkins said, changing the definition.
But wait, even that isn't correct, apparently.
"Effort, Attitude and – what is it? I forgot the last one," freshman safety Karl Joseph began before adding "Turnovers" to the list.
Multiple other players backed up Joseph's interpretation of the new mantra and said there is a reason it begins with effort.
According to freshman safety Sean Walters, defensive coordinator Joe DeForest preaches these words over and over and will go out of his way to call out anyone he sees – whether in the weight room or on the practice field – giving anything less than full effort.
"As far as DeForest, he instills effort, effort, effort – always eat, eat, eat," says Walters.
The team meeting room is where you'll wish you had given good effort if you had not done so. DeForest, and any other coach on the staff these days, will make the entire team well aware of your laziness and Walters for one would rather not be the focus of that sort of detailed analysis.
The second word, attitude, is self-explanatory. Come to work each day ready to get better – not only individually, but for the whole. A positive and tough attitude will go a long way toward developing yourself as well as those around you.
Then there are the turnovers.
"It's a whole team thing, actually. The offense doesn't want to give up turnovers, they want to keep the ball and avoid turnovers, but it's a whole team standpoint," says junior defensive end Will Clarke. "Coach DeForest, he's really emphasizing it on defense for us to give a lot of effort, that's first, have a good attitude and a tough attitude and get turnovers. That's one of the most important stats in college football."
Clarke is right about that and it is something that if the Mountaineers were not aware of coming into last season, they learned firsthand.
WVU's turnover margin was just a plus-one in 2011 as the team gave the ball away 22 times and took it away 23. In three losses, the Mountaineers lost the turnover battle, 8-2.
Against Louisville, West Virginia was able to outgain the Cardinals by nearly 200 yards, yet still lost due, in large part, to turnovers.
In a game against South Florida, the Mountaineers could hardly get anything going offensively and actually had more turnovers than the Bulls, but the turnovers they forced were more important. A Pat Miller pick-six and a Najee Goode forced fumble to set up the game-winning field goal completely turned the game in WVU's favor and without those two, there never would have been an Orange Bowl.
Speaking of that game against Clemson, there is no better example of turnovers setting the tone. West Virginia got the trend started with a 99-yard fumble return for a touchdown and continued it with an interception and a fumble recovery before half
WVU committed just one turnover of its own in the game, and that came at the hands of backup quarterback Paul Millard, who was then yanked from action.
"That's the main thing they've said from day one, that turnovers are going to help," says Jenkins. "We really found that out after Darwin Cook made that one, how it turns around momentum. If we just buy into that phrase ‘E.A.T.' … As long as we do that, we can do a lot."
And don't be concerned that the three letters have not yet engrained themselves into the mind of each and every Mountaineer. Remember, this is a team full of players – and some coaches – who will tell you they still don't understand why they walk around wearing shirts that read, "Insanity."
At least this one has a clear cut meaning that, should the players really buy in, could pay off when they suit up in the fall.
Quick Hits: Spring Practice Day 2
MORGANTOWN - The West Virginia University football team took the field for the second time this spring. It was another sunny day with temperatures near 80 degrees on the field.
The media was only permitted to view 30 minutes of practice, which included kickoff coverage. That was followed by several periods of individual work for the various positions.
New defensive line coach Erik Slaughter was very active with his group. He was quick to praise some players and quick to take the precious moments necessary to teach other players. Jorge Wright earned some praise from Slaughter for staying low on a drill designed to bull rush the passer.
Robert Gillespie was equally as vocal with his running backs as Slaughter was with the defensive linemen. Gillespie worked on the fundamentals of blocking with his players. Shawne Alston was actively working on showing some of the younger players proper technique to reinforce what Gillespie was teaching.
The quarterbacks and receivers looked a little better than they did in Sunday's practice. Quarterbacks connected on about 50 percent of passes thrown beyond 30 yards. That needs to improve, especially without defensive backs covering the receivers.
Head Coach Dana Holgorsen did not say much during the 30 minutes we could watch, but he did make his way to each position and watch players on both sides of the ball go through their drills.
Also of note, former WVU defensive lineman Bruce Irvin was once again on the sidelines watching practice.
Creating Turnovers No. 1 Goal
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Although the players may line up a little differently this fall, new West Virginia University defensive coordinator Joe DeForest says what they are trying to accomplish is still the same – stop the other team and create turnovers.
“It’s not earth shattering,” DeForest said recently. “Football has been around for (many) years and it’s not like we’re going to come in here and make something up.
We’re going to go out and try and get our kids to play hard, create turnovers and we’ll be successful.”
This spring DeForest is introducing a more traditional 3-4 defensive alignment, meaning those hybrid safeties recruited for the 3-3 stack will now become outside linebackers. DeForest said he will take the first couple of practices to evaluate players to see where they fit best.
“The first three or four days we will know more about where everybody is going to play,” he said. “All we did was put them on a depth chart and tell them this is where you’re going to start. It’s not where you are going to finish.”
DeForest will handle the safeties. Keith Patterson, Pitt’s defensive coordinator last year, will coach the inside linebackers, Daron Roberts moves over from offense to guide the corners, Steve Dunlap will handle the outside linebackers and Erik Slaughter has been brought in to work with the defensive linemen.
Patterson also worked with Todd Graham at Tulsa where he has prior experience running the 3-3 stack. Because the Mountaineers are remaining in an odd-front defense, Patterson believes the transition to a slightly different alignment will not be as difficult as it was last year when he installed the odd front at Pitt.
“West Virginia has been an odd front - has done it for years and done a tremendous job - and I have a tremendous respect and admiration for the job they’ve done defensively where Pitt was a 4-3, quarters concept team going in so it was probably more of a transition going from a 4-3 to a multiple 3-4,” Patterson said. “About four or five games into the season we made some drastic changes from where we were in fall camp at Pitt.”
DeForest, Patterson and Slaughter have all worked in highly successful defensive systems in the past. Last year, Oklahoma State was No. 2 in the country in interceptions and the Tulsa defense Patterson coordinated two years ago ranked second in the nation in turnover margin. Plus, Slaughter’s defensive line at Stephen F. Austin last season helped the Lumberjacks rank first in the country in sacks averaging 4.36 per game and 14th in total defense.
“You’ve got to be disruptive,” said Slaughter. “You’ve got to be able to take people out of their comfort zone.”
Having worked in the Big 12 Conference at Oklahoma State since 2001, DeForest understands what that league is about and what it’s going to take to defend the teams in it.
“In the league we’re going to we’ve just got to be able to run,” he said. “We’re a lot bigger here in the secondary than we were at the previous place I was at, but we could run. I think in that league you’ve got to be able to run and if you can run, and you enjoy contact, then you can play in this defense.”
“The ball just doesn’t come to the A-gap anymore,” added Slaughter. “You’ve got to go get it so I want guys who can run and can change direction. I want explosive players who can make plays in space. It’s an explosive, in-space type of game now.”
DeForest says he has already developed a motto for this year’s defense: EAT - effort, attitude and turnovers.
“We’re going to measure your effort, we’re going to watch your attitude and measure that and the bottom line is turnovers so that’s going to be our shtick on defense,” he said.
In the short time they have been able to sit down as a staff and study the current players they are inheriting, all three coaches agree that West Virginia’s most impressive attributes on defense have been its overall toughness and playing with great effort and enthusiasm.
“We want to build upon what has made the defenses great here in the past. It’s been the effort and you see that when you watch these guys play and I have great respect for that,” said Patterson. “We’re going to accomplish the same thing.”
Patterson, who also holds the title of co-defensive coordinator, says his role in that capacity will become more defined in time.
“Those are things we will work through,” Patterson said. “I have a tremendous amount of respect for Joe and what he did at Oklahoma State - and Dana as well - and what they’ve been able to do during their careers. It’s like anything else, you figure out what your role is and you fit into that role as best as you can. I just want to do everything I can to help us win and play great defense.”
Slaughter says the wheel is not going to be reinvented this spring.
“We’re going to line up sound, stop the run, and we’re going to get after the quarterback,” he said. “It’s the same things (the previous coaching staff) tried to do. The difference from the naked eye won’t be that big of a deal.”
WVU Spring Football: Assistant Coaches' Quotes
West Virginia University assistant football coaches discuss 2012 spring practice.
Inside Receiver coach Shannon Dawson
On the beginning of spring practice and the performance of the receivers
From the first day of practice I think its going fine, we dropped probably about ten balls and that's the first day we really had problems with drops - we're usually pretty sure-handed. Effort has been great and as far as playing fast at a high tempo, we've been doing good. If you have opportunities to make plays, we have to make plays. You can't waste opportunities like that and we wasted a lot today.
On the players having a lot of confidence this early in the season
I really sense it from the defensive side, I think those guys have good energy and they really seem like they're having a good time. That bleeds over to our side too and they just feed off of each other. We try to create an atmosphere where people are happy to play so hopefully that shows.
On working with the defense
I've known a lot of these guys for awhile, so I sit in their meetings when we're not in meetings just because I want to see how defensive people pattern and scheme things. I'll tell them what's tough on us and then they'll tell me whats tough on them - it's just helping each other out and tweaking things.
On the weather
I thought we would be freezing out there, but God's taken care of it.
Offensive Line coach Bill Bedenbaugh
On the offensive line
Right now they're confident - at least the first group is - then its just a matter of the younger guys getting comfortable.
On the return of offensive lineman Josh Jenkins
He looks pretty good, a little hesitant the first day - which is understandable - but once he gets into it with pads and starts hitting he'll start feeling confident again. He can't worry about it (the injury), whatever happens is going to happen he just has to go out there and play full speed. He brings experience to the whole group.
On the Oklahoma drill
It's a great drill. It's just one-on-one to see who's tough. There's not a whole lot of technique involved; it's coming off the ball, staying low, moving your hands and feet and simply seeing who's tougher.
On focusing on technique
The more reps you do of something the more comfortable you'll feel. You have to draw confidence from success and believe you can do it over and over. Those guys really took that into the off season, worked hard and now they're taking it onto the field.
On getting the pads on
This is where you see who is going to hit people. A lot of guys can look good in shorts and a helmet but now it's about seeing who can go out there and hit people while still executing their assignment and their technique.
Co-Defensive Coordinator Keith Patterson
On the first day of pads
There is just a difference on the first day with pads. Speaking specifically from a linebacker standpoint, we had some mistakes, but again the effort has been really good. It’s just like learning a new language. You can see the guys trying to process everything, and overall I’ve been very pleased.
On gauging guys before putting on pads
The thing you can learn from the first two days is what kind of effort. It’s hard to tell how you’re going to fit the run and when you have pads on how guys are going to make tackles and plays in space. I was very pleased with what we saw at parts of practice. I think we started strong and finished with the intensity that we need to. We just need to keep bringing it because we can’t let one practice go by without making the most of it.
On the transition from the 3-3-5
The guys who have experience playing and even at linebacker, it hasn’t been that big of a transition. We’re moving forward and I like where we are.
On what was installed today
We put in a new coverage and some of the concepts are different, but we’re facing different concepts everyday from our offense. We’re going out their cold turkey and you basically just have to react to it.
Defensive Coordinator Joe DeForest
On day one in pads
I thought it was very exciting. These kids play hard. Their practice tempo is amazing and I’m very impressed. We just have to keep piecing different defensive fronts and whenever we put it all in, we’ll see what sticks on the wall and what we want to go with in the season.
On where the tempo comes from
It’s a combination. It’s what we demand of the players, but they’ve been trained pretty well.
On the new defensive staff
We’re getting along great. We have great meetings and we’re getting to know each other and our tendencies. I think we have a great staff put together, Dana did a great job, and I think as we work together throughout spring and fall camp it’s going to get that much better.
On seeing guys full speed
When we saw them offseason it’s just them running around doing drills. It was a great step. They did an unbelievable job of handling the pads and handling their teammates and flying to the ball.
Special Teams Coordinator Steve Dunlap
On the new staff
Football coaches are football coaches and if they like to coach football I like to be around them.
Learning the new schemes
There isn’t anything I haven’t played. In 36 years there isn’t much I haven’t seen. It’s just names and there was something we put in today that I know six names for. It’s still the same stuff, just a matter of putting names in.
Luck says move to Big 12 about sustaining national profile
PITTSBURGH, Pa. -- As West Virginia University embarked on another two NCAA Tournament appearances here, the deal for the Mountaineers isn't just about the old bracket adage "survive and advance."
It's about sustaining a national profile, too, for WVU, as the program changes conference affiliation.
West Virginia faced Gonzaga on Thursday night at the Consol Energy Center in the seventh NCAA men's basketball appearance in eight years for that program. The one that wasn't an NCAA became a 2007 NIT championship.
The women's basketball program faces future Big 12 Conference foe Texas on Saturday in a fifth NCAA Tournament berth in six years for Coach Mike Carey's program, this time in Norfolk, Va.
The Mountaineers have reached bowls in 10 straight seasons, have won all three of their Bowl Championship Series dates in impressive fashion, and five other times played in the Big East's No. 2 bowl game.
"It's clearly a good record," said West Virginia University Athletic Director Oliver Luck, when asked about the Mountaineers establishing their major programs on the national stage in the last decade. "A lot of it is due to good coaches, good administrators and good and hard-working student-athletes.
"Will we be able to replicate that kind of success over the next 10 years in the Big 12? We'll try. Clearly, our goal will be to try and maintain that success and compete for national championships."
Luck, attending the WVU-Gonzaga game after a short drive up I-79 from the WVU campus, said the move from the Big East to the Big 12 will allow the Mountaineers to stay nationally relevant in the aforementioned sports.
"Absolutely, we had to make the move, in our minds, because we wanted to have those same opportunities," Luck said, "but football and basketball are different.
"In basketball, we could be in the Atlantic 10 still and make the (NCAA) tournament, still have the same record and kind of success we have had, because the avenue to play (at the NCAA Tournament-level) is different.
"In football, it's clearly becoming the select few, a list of the top 65 to 70 Division I programs, and we had to make sure we remained part of that group. If we had stayed where we were, I don't think we'd have continued to have those BCS opportunities."
In making the conference move, WVU jumps between the only two conferences that had more than half of their teams in the men's NCAA bracket (9 of 16 Big East, 6 of 10 Big 12).
The big difference for coaches Bob Huggins and Carey is that their teams will play everyone in the Big 12 home-and-home. In the Big East, that scheduling balance was not possible.
In football, CBSSports.com analyst Jerry Palm already is forecasting the Mountaineers for a BCS at-large date in 2012 in the Sugar Bowl, with Oklahoma getting the Big 12 title and conference berth in the Fiesta.
"I'll say this, I'm not really surprised," Luck responded when asked if the sustained success in the Big East in recent years came from nowhere. "I think if you go back, a reason West Virginia dropped (men's) track, tennis, some of those sports was that the idea was to put those resources behind the major programs.
"A lot of people got upset, but that has made a difference."
Financial support from contributors is rooted in the success of the major sports, because that excites the fan base. WVU never has had the consistent success - and national profile and exposure - in football and men's and women's basketball that it now enjoys.
"The Big 12 is going to give us the opportunity to maintain the kind of program we have now," Luck said.
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