The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

College Sports

March 4, 2014

2 more sessions before break

Mountaineers preparing for ‘nuts and bolts’ of spring

Dana Holgorsen promised West Virginia University football fans they’d be proud of the product they see on the field during four open practice sessions this spring. On Sunday, the fourth-year head coach went to work on backing up his words.

WVU held the first of 15 spring practices Sunday, going inside the Caperton Indoor Practice Facility for the opening session without pads.

The Mountaineers were off Monday but will have another unpadded session inside today. They’ll hold one more Thursday, following the same plan, before breaking for spring break.

“We wanted to get these three days in to be able to introduce some stuff so that when we come back we can really get into the nuts and bolts of really being able to play the game,” said Holgorsen. “We were not able to do that last year until the middle of August.”

The players will go their different ways for spring break, but practice will resume on March 18 with the first of 12 padded practices.

“We will come back and get into the physical nature and toughness of the game, which is what football is all about,” said Holgorsen.

WVU will hold an open practice at Wheeling Island Stadium in Wheeling on March 22 at 12:45 p.m., giving fans from the Northern Panhandle a chance to come out and watch the Mountaineers. A March 29 practice in Morgantown at 1 p.m. will also be open to the public, as will an April 5 session at Laidley Field in Charleston, beginning at 12:45 p.m.

The spring will conclude with the annual Gold/Blue Spring Game on April 12 at a time still to be announced.

“I think everybody does the same thing in spring,” said Holgorsen of his approach to the next six weeks. “You hopefully have a lot of guys back and the majority of your team. You never have your full roster.

“I think at this point last year, we had less than half our team. This year, we have upwards of 80 percent of our team. That makes it easier when it comes to teaching these guys how to do things properly. If you ever get into a position where you are not explaining what to do but how to do it, that gives you a chance to be really successful.”

This spring will also be a learning experience for many WVU coaches. There will be some new faces on the practice field, including new senior associate head coach Tom Bradley, brought on board less than two weeks ago. The former Penn State defensive coordinator will be in charge of the Mountaineer defensive line.

“Tom has coached everything, and the defensive line is a pretty important place,” said Holgorsen. “He will be great coaching the defensive line and recruiting western Pennsylvania. He will also help me a lot. He’s been in this profession for 33 years and has seen a lot. He will bring a lot to the table, and we are fortunate and happy to have him on board.”

Former WVU linebacker Damon Cogdell — who recently joined the staff after serving as the head coach at Miramar High School, where he coached the likes of Geno Smith and Stedman Bailey — will now be coaching the linebackers.

Both Bradley and Cogdell will be working with new defensive coordinator Tony Gibson, who was promoted to the position last month after Keith Patterson left for Arizona State.

Holgorsen, though, said the adjustments will be minor, and with more returning players than usual, he won’t be quite as patient.

“We will be less patient with mental mistakes,” he said. “There is always going to be mistakes and adjustments with schemes. We are going to adjust some things offensively, defensively and with special teams, but not to the point that they do not know what’s going on. They should have a handle on what we’re doing. We need to get them better with the actual product, and with the technique and how they do things.”

— E-mail: chuffman@register-herald.com and follow on Twitter @CamHuffmanRH.

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