Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Offensive-Minded Holgorsen Gets a Bit Defensive

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Offensive-Minded Holgorsen Gets a Bit Defensive

Article excerpt

MORGANTOWN - West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen was on his own Tuesday.

Usually, he meets with the press before assistant coaches and selected players trickle in for interviews. This week, however, the Mountaineers are off. They won't get back to action until Oct. 29, a Thursday, at No. 4 TCU. So access was limited.

"Down time is important, Holgorsen said. "We gave [the players] Sunday off. We gave them Monday off. We'll give them Friday off. You just need to get away from it.

Holgorsen, however, can't get away from his team's three-game losing streak. WVU backers are restless after a 62-38 Mountaineer pasting at the hands of Baylor. The once highly touted Mountaineer defense is now No. 74 nationally and No. 78 in pass defense.

Meanwhile, Holgorsen is getting a tad, well, defensive.

On Tuesday, for instance, he spoke of some team injuries. He said cornerback Terrell Chestnut is "day-to-day. ("He tries hard, but has had a shoulder [injury] for quite some time, Holgorsen said. "He actually had it before [the Baylor] game and tried to play through it. Was too sore. He needs this week.) He said WVU offensive linemen Yodney Cajuste and Tyler Orlosky will be rested all week. Then he got to running back Wendell Smallwood.

"Wendell [Smallwood] - a lot has been made of him, Holgorsen said. "Specific guys have questioned why we're not using him very much. I can assure you we will use him as much as we possibly can. He hasn't practiced a day in the last two weeks. And he gets out there and gives us everything he's got. He'll benefit for this week off.

Criticism, I believe, was leveled after the Oklahoma State game because Rushel Shell was used in overtime rather than Smallwood. It was leveled because the backs indicated they decide which of them plays in what situation. I'm not sure it was leveled because of the number of plays Smallwood receives. I may be wrong.

Anyway, Holgorsen was asked about David Sills, a recruited quarterback who came in and not only played receiver but looked good in doing so.

"I wouldn't have put him out there if I didn't think he could compete, Holgorsen said. "So I put him out there and he competed and looked good. So we'll probably keep doing it.

Then there were the coach's comments on quarterback Skyler Howard. You might remember Holgorsen speaking of "mechanical mistakes" in the past. There were references to footwork and ticking mental clocks. On Tuesday there was this:

"I thought [Howard] attacked the week really good. He ignored what the outside was saying. He used that to motivate him. He studied the game plan hard. He got to spend a little time with his family [in Texas] because he's from Fort Worth. That was good for him, to be around a lot of people that believe in him, that patted him on the back, that told him they love him and all that stuff. …

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