The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

College Sports

April 27, 2011

Offense in spotlight in Gold-Blue Game

As excited as West Virginia fans are to see new offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen’s offense unleashed, nobody is more excited than the man himself.

The unofficial unveiling will be at about 7:40 p.m. Friday during the Mountaineers’ annual Gold-Blue Game at Milan Puskar Stadium.

Tickets are $10. There will be an alumni flag football game prior to the Gold-Blue game. Gates open at 6 p.m.

And, like any OC, he is a little pessimistic before seeing the finished product.

“I hope it looks all right,” Holgorsen said. “We don’t want to have 18 penalties and 18 sacks. We don’t want to have to punt. Coach Stewart had done a great job with our punt team, but the fans aren’t coming to see them kick the ball 20 times. Hopefully, it looks good.”

The simulated game under the lights is expected to draw the interest of fans eager to see Holgorsen’s high-octane offense, which has been consistently ranked among the best in the nation the last six years.

For the team, it’s a chance to show how much they have picked up this spring, including incumbent starting quarterback Geno Smith, who is feeling some pressure from freshman Paul Millard.

That means Holgorsen may be bending a little from the norm, adapting to what his quarterbacks do well.

“We start every series in a huddle,” Holgorsen said. “We’ve been talking about how much we need to huddle, but we need to get comfortable at something, and right now we’re more comfortable when we don’t huddle and play up-tempo. The two times we did the two-minute drill, we got things going a little bit, and they seemed to be comfortable with no-huddle. Paul Millard did it in high school, and so did Geno, and I think it’s something they’re comfortable with.”

For the defense, it’s all about fundamentals as defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel deals with replacing some key elements to a WVU defense that was ranked among the nation’s best last season.

And that includes tackling, something that often isn’t done at full speed in the spring, when players aren’t going 100 percent.

“I think that’s a problem nationwide,” Casteel said. “You don’t want to get guys hurt. It makes it tough. You really have to stay on the kids to get them to put their hips and feet in a position to make a play even when they aren’t. It’s really a tough situation, and you have to get them to focus. When we’re allowed to tackle, you have to make sure their fundamentals are there. That’s just the way the game has been, from the NFL level all the way down.”

For both sides, and their coaches, it’s something to look forward to at the conclusion of a four-week practice schedule.

“I’m sure the guys are pretty excited,” Holgorsen said. “The guys get tired of practicing, which is just the nature, but when you get a live event with people in the stands, they’ll probably get pretty cranked up for it.”

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