The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

College Sports

March 5, 2013

WVU coaching staff unset as spring practice nears

CHARLESTON — West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen has some catching up to do with his staff before he can start building his team for next fall.

With time winding down until spring practice begins on Sunday, Holgorsen still must hire a running backs coach, a position that opened up last week. Four other assistants have been with the Mountaineers less than two months.

“It hasn’t affected us one bit,” Holgorsen said Tuesday.

The recent hires include cornerbacks coach Brian Mitchell, safeties coach Tony Gibson, receivers coach Lonnie Galloway, and Ron Crook on the offensive line.

The defensive coaches have been meeting for the past seven weeks, “so we feel like we’re in great shape there,” Holgorsen said.

The offensive-minded Holgorsen said he and offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson “are continuously looking at it to see what we’ve got to do to get better. But from a coaching change standpoint, it’s nothing to worry about.”

Holgorsen’s work already is piled up as the Mountaineers embark on the post-Geno Smith era. Not only does he have to identify some potential new playmakers on offense, he’ll look to fix a defense that allowed a school record for points in a disappointing 7-6 season.

Keith Patterson took over the defensive play calling for Joe DeForest before a 38-14 loss to Syracuse in the Pinstripe Bowl in December. Patterson insists he hasn’t spent a moment thinking about last season.

While it’s going to take time to put a new defensive plan in place and execute it, “I really like our players’ frame of mind,” Patterson said. “We’re going to get kids to play with that chip on their shoulder again. We know the expectations don’t seem to be where they were a year ago, and our kids are going to go out and try to prove people wrong.“

There will be plenty of leadership positions up for grabs on both sides of the ball. In addition to Smith, the offense lost record-setting wide receivers Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey.

Paul Millard backed up Smith for two seasons and will split time in spring practice with Ford Childress and newcomer Chavas Rawlins.

Holgorsen isn’t ready to hand over the reins of the offense to Millard just yet. Millard threw for 87 yards and two scores while appearing in seven games in 2012.

“As this thing goes on, we will discuss it,” Holgorsen said. “We’ve got a lot of practices ahead of us and we won’t name a starter for a while. Paul’s got more experience. He probably understands the offense a little bit better than the other guys, but that doesn’t mean we’re going to give him more reps.”

Another problem: No returning wide receiver had more than 100 receiving yards last season. But Holgorsen wants to turn that deficiency — along with the fact that their position coach is new — into a positive.

“Coach Galloway has been in here with the receivers trying to motivate those guys to get better and better, which he will do,” Holgorsen said.

Holgorsen specifically mentioned holdovers K.J. Myers, Devonte Mathis, Connor Arlia and Jordan Thompson, along with newcomers such as Daikiel Shorts and Kevin White.

“Obviously, ending the season the way we ended the season, and losing a lot of star power, we’ve got a lot of hungry kids that are anxious to prove themselves,” Holgorsen said.

Running backs coach Robert Gillespie was hired by Tennessee last week. His replacement will inherit a position with depth.

Joining veterans Andrew Buie and Dustin Garrison in the backfield this spring are junior-college transfer Dreamius Smith and freshman Wendell Smallwood.

“Probably the strength of where we’re at right now is the running back position,” Holgorsen said. “That’s where all our production is returning. We’re going to lean on them for some leadership.”


Text Only
College Sports
  • Mountaineers beat Buckeyes 4-1 in lefty Vance’s first career start

    In his first career start for the WVU baseball team, sophomore left-hander Ross Vance struck out 14 en route to a 4-1 victory over Ohio State on Tuesday evening at Hawley Field.

    April 15, 2014

  • Most plays good, some not so good in Gold-Blue scrimmage

    There appeared to be a fine mixture of plays, most good with some not so good, in West Virginia University’s Gold-Blue football scrimmage last Saturday.

    April 15, 2014

  • Wesleyan edges CU twice in softball

    The Concord University softball narrowly dropped a pair of games to No. 17 West Virginia Wesleyan, 2-1 and 4-3, Sunday afternoon at Culpepper Field.

    April 14, 2014

  • Concord baseball shuts out Cardinals

    The Concord University baseball team posted two shutout victories on Sunday, extending its winning streak to seven games by beating conference foe Wheeling Jesuit.

    April 14, 2014

  • dana Much still to be answered this fall

    In Saturday’s paper, I compiled a list of five things to watch at West Virginia University’s annual Gold-Blue Spring Game. Now, after watching the football scrimmage that concluded this year’s spring drills and taking some time to process what I saw, it’s time to go back and revisit those five points and how they turned out on Saturday.

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • D’Antoni speculation now seems to have legs

    Kareem Canty got what he wanted, and Marshall fans should find out this week if they will get what they want.

    April 13, 2014

  • millard Specials teams shine at Gold-Blue Game

    The scoreboard said the Gold (offense) beat the Blue (defense) 37-27 in Saturday’s Gold-Blue Spring Game at Milan Puskar Stadium using a modified scoring system that rewarded the defense for stops and turnovers and the offense for scores.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • syvertson ‘Huey the Punter’ makes transition to LB

    The first reaction of the 10,000 fans in attendance at Milan Puskar Stadium for Saturday’s Gold-Blue Spring Game when No. 42 shot through the offensive line and put junior college transfer quarterback Skyler Howard on the ground in the second half was to ooh and aah.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • crutchfield Crutchfield again named Furfari Award winner

    Already the winningest men’s basketball coach in college history in terms of percentage — yes, better than guys like John Wooden, Adolph Rupp and Roy Williams — West Liberty’s Jim Crutchfield is heading into some lofty territory within the confines of his home state.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • Five things to watch at WVU spring game

    Spring practice will come to an end for West Virginia University this afternoon when the Mountaineer football team hosts the annual Gold-Blue Spring Game at 1 p.m. at Milan Puskar Stadium.

    April 11, 2014

AP Video