MORGANTOWN - Compared to former WVU football coaches, Dana Holgorsen is a different cat.He's certainly quick with a quip.When asked about the new helmet rule, which states a player must exit a play if the top pops, Holgorsen said this about center Joe Madsen:"Joey's helmet comes off because he's in the trenches. He said in the first game he's going to put duct tape around his chin and helmet. Nike will probably be mad, but ..."And this on splurging after signing his new contract Wednesday:"I splurged on a bunch of film last night. Was up here until about 11 o'clock. Then we had some fine dining in the back."Holgorsen, though, is new age not only in his offensive philosophy, but other aspects. For instance, he was refreshingly candid when asked about areas of comfort and discomfort.After practice No. 8, he immediately pointed to one area of increasing comfort."You know, the O-line," Holgorsen said about his offensive front. "You know what you're getting with Madsen, [right guard Jeff] Braun and [left guard Josh] Jenkins. Those guys have played a lot of football around here. They've solidified the inside."[Right tackle] Pat Eger had his problems last year. He's playing better. We have the ability to move him down to guard. [Reserve tackle] Curtis Feigt looks like a different guy. We feel much more comfortable putting him in. [Left tackle Quinton] Spain looks like a different guy. We feel much more comfortable putting him in.
"So we feel really good about them. We're trying to find one more guard. That may be moving guys around; I don't know. But we've identified guys [for] depth. We're still trying to find a few more."Discomfort?"Obviously, we've got a couple receivers that can play, but we need five more," Holgorsen said. "We don't know who that's going to be."Freshman Jordan Thompson just might be a starting inside receiver. Ivan McCartney and Ryan Nehlen are battling. That will be an area to watch.Ditto the linebacker corps.
"We have, really, three returning starters in [Jared] Barber, [Doug] Rigg and [Jewone] Snow," Holgorsen said. "They played a lot last year. Najee Goode was the guy that held that together. Finding a guy to replace him from a leadership, toughness and playmaking standpoint, we haven't found that yet. But you have starting returning experience in there. We've moved Shaq Petteway and Isaiah Bruce in there. They are two guys who are really athletic, but don't have starting experience."Will at least one of the two younger 'backers start?Those, anyway, are some of the tangible aspects Holgorsen spoke of Thursday night. But here's the new age part: He also spoke of intangibles. Coachable, he believes, intangibles.After a practice that included 20 live snaps, he pointed to the team's upbeat attitude."We had a lot of competition," he said of the practice. "What I liked is it became more competitive with more energy as the practice went along. That means some of the guys are excited to be out there, excited to be playing."He went on to say the coaches aren't really "trying to narrow things down at this point," but, instead, teach.
Then he went on."All I can say is there's a whole bunch of energy out there," Holgorsen said. "A lot of guys enjoy playing football. We have a bunch of guys with the right attitude."We coach it. That's what they pay us to do. We've talked a lot about body language; we've talked a lot about confidence; we've talked a lot about effort and energy. I truly believe you can coach that stuff, just like you can where to line up on a specific play."He's coaching energy. He's coaching body language. I don't remember hearing Don Nehlen or Frank Cignetti, etc., teaching body language."Ultimately, the guys have to buy into it and feel good about it and want to do it," Holgorsen said. "We try to steer them in the right direction. Saw a lot of that out there tonight."We'll see how it translates in less than a month.Reach Mitch Vingle at 304-348-4827, firstname.lastname@example.org
or follow him at twitter.com/MitchVingle.