The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

March 3, 2011

Mountaineers’ Holgorsen is ‘anxious, but not ready’

By John Raby
Associated Press Writer

MORGANTOWN — Dana Holgorsen’s thrill of a fast pace stops with his offense.

Installing his system as West Virginia’s new offensive coordinator and head-coach-in-waiting is going to take time and a cautious approach.

As eager as some of his players might be to start spring practice now, Holgorsen wants them to soak in what little teaching he’s allowed to do before overwhelming them with the new playbook beginning March 28.

“Anxious,” Holgorsen said this week. “But not ready.”

Holgorsen was hired in December to replace Jeff Mullen, and he’ll take over for West Virginia head coach Bill Stewart following the 2011 season. As offensive coordinator, Holgorsen’s units at Oklahoma State last year and at Houston in the preceding two years were among the most prolific in the nation.

Since the Mountaineers’ recruiting class was announced Feb. 2, Holgorsen has immersed himself in breaking down videotape of his offensive schemes at Oklahoma State.

Without families present to keep them occupied, it’s been a relentless schedule of film study and meetings with Holgorsen and his hand-picked staff — Bill Bedenbaugh on the offensive line; running backs coach Robert Gillespie, who came with Holgorsen from Stillwater, Okla.; inside receivers coach Shannon Dawson, and outside receivers coach Lonnie Galloway, who was on Stewart’s previous staff.

“Right now after recruiting’s over is when you need to start getting on the same page before spring,” Holgorsen said. “There’s no down time. If we leave here and we go eat, we’re still talking football. We’re still working. We’re not going to movies. We’re not going to sit in a hotel room and read a book for four hours. It’s just not our personality. So you keep working until you go to bed.”

And on Tuesdays and Thursdays, he’s up for 6 a.m. meetings with players who Holgorsen said he’s still getting to know.

The coaches are allowed two hours each week with the players, who watch videotapes, “then they go out on their own, experiment with it on a voluntary basis,” Holgorsen said. “That’s where we’re at right now.”

The offensive coaching staff is about 80 percent through watching film clips of last season. There’s still decisions to be made on how Holgorsen is going to install his offense. He didn’t like some of the things he saw on videotape, so he’s addressing better ways to do it. That included traveling to several offseason coaching clinics across the country.

One thing’s for sure. He won’t borrow from West Virginia’s playbook, the one Stewart borrowed from after Rich Rodriguez left for Michigan following the 2007 regular season.

West Virginia’s offense bogged down last season. Turnovers resulted in losses to Syracuse and Connecticut, which led to a 9-4 season and cost the Mountaineers a Bowl Championship Series berth.

Oklahoma State was third in the FBS with 520 yards per game. West Virginia was 67th with 373.

“Is it going to look just like Oklahoma State?” Holgorsen said. “I can’t tell you that because I don’t know what our personnel is.

“I think over the course of the last three years of how I’ve called things, it’s worked fairly good if you look at what’s happened. So why would you change it?”