Holgorsen Reviews Film, Readies for Bye - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Holgorsen Reviews Film, Readies for Bye


The view from the sideline can be significantly different than what a coach sees when he sits down to review a game's film.

But upon looking back at the season opener, WVU head coach Dana Holgorsen has mostly the same impression as he did in his postgame press conference.

"Defensively, we need to tackle better and get better on third down. If you tackle better on third down, you're probably getting off the field, which reduces the snaps, which reduces the yards," Holgorsen said Tuesday. "Offensively, I like the way we operate. The one glaring thing was the two times the ball was on the ground, which was two times too many."

Neither of those fumbles worked against the Mountaineers as they were able to recover them and continue with their drives, but Holgorsen points out that if the recovering team were Marshall, we could be looking at a 21-20 halftime score.

But when you have a quarterback who completes 90 percent of his passes and gets off to about the best start to his senior season as one could imagine, the offensive concerns are lessened. The tempo in which Geno Smith is able to operate the offense and the efficiency he displays in doing so has his head coach pleased with the direction they are heading.

"It's the best quarterback play I've been around from an operations standpoint, from a handling the game standpoint, getting the calls in, taking care of the football and checking plays," says Holgorsen. "There are a lot of things he does that you can't see unless you're out there."

The offense was 5-of-8 on third down conversions, which kept its own drives going, but the defense was not nearly as effective when it came to winning the third and fourth down battles.

A sign on the defensive meeting room's door showed that in 22 opportunities, the WVU defense only got Marshall off the field 11 times. Fifty percent is not good enough for Holgorsen and the assistants who survey that side of the ball.

There were real bright spots on defense, though many of them came in the form of true and redshirt freshmen in their first action. Isaiah Bruce, Karl Joseph and Kyle Rose stood out to Holgorsen on tape and while the Mountaineers do have plenty of youth in their lineup, it doesn't concern the head coach.

"I think we had 40 percent of our snaps by seniors and 17 or 18 percent by freshmen or redshirt freshmen," says Holgorsen. "We have more seniors playing than freshmen. I think there is a problem if you have more freshmen playing than seniors, but that's not the case."

Besides, in this opener, it was clear that West Virginia's staff intended to play whoever it felt gave the team the best chance to win, even if only for a few snaps.

"We played approximately 62 players in the game, that's a lot of people playing in a football game," Holgorsen says. "We knew it was going to be like that, and we've been gearing our schemes and our team to be able to handle that. That's exciting as a head coach to be able to see a whole bunch of people contributing."

There are concerns on special teams when a punt is blocked and an extra point sails wide, but Holgorsen believes his kickoff and return units played well, and he was pleased with the blocking he saw across the board.

Two-thirds of Corey Smith's kickoffs sailed into the end zone, while Marshall had an average drive start of the 21-yard-line, which is inside the new touchback position of the 25.

But Holgorsen cautions not to think of special teams solely as a kicker's game, and to prove his point, senior wide receiver Ryan Nehlen took the team's award for that unit's player of the week.

"It's always been given to the guy tat nobody notices because it's either blocking or tackling or doing some different things," said Holgorsen. "Ryan's a guy that takes special teams very seriously. We try to get him on all of them."

With all of the awards that the staff gives out weekly to its players, a hit of the week is not among them. But if Holgorsen were tasked with finding a bone-crushing blow worthy of that honor, he had two prime options from the Marshall game.

Freshman safety K.J. Dillon and sophomore running back Andrew Buie each blew up a member of the Thundering Herd and while Holgorsen gives Buie's hit a slight edge, he also pointed out something else that the tape revealed: both hits were on the same Marshall player, Cortez Carter.

"That sucks, man," Holgorsen said. "Poor kid."

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