Quotes from Coach: Life Not Calling Plays, Grier and Receivers I - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Quotes from Coach: Life Not Calling Plays, Grier and Receivers Impress, ECU Challenges

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Coach Holgorsen looks on during drills at fall camp. (PHOTO: Anjelica Trinone) Coach Holgorsen looks on during drills at fall camp. (PHOTO: Anjelica Trinone)

MORGANTOWN – It’s a short turn around for the West Virginia University football team after opening the season on Sunday.  The Mountaineers are preparing for the home opener on Saturday against East Carolina. On Tuesday, Coach Holgorsen met with the media to reflect on game one and look ahead to the challenges of ECU, and while there is disappointment, there is also optimism for this weekend and the future.

“It was a heck of a football game. I told our guys to not put their heads down. We’re a good football team, Virginia Tech is a good football team. It came down to the last play; they made the play, we didn’t. That’s unfortunate, but what are we going to do about it? We’re not going to hang our heads, we’re going to go back home and get started,” Holgorsen said to open his press conference.

It surely wasn’t the outcome the Mountaineers hoped for, but it gave a glimpse of what this 2017 team is capable of. Will Grier made his WVU debut and he was just as impressive as advertised. He also showed his competitiveness and will to do whatever is needed to get the job done when he hurdled VT’s Anthony Shegog to pick up the first down and keep the momentum alive.

Grier completed 31-of-53 passed for for 371 yards and three touchdowns. He also showed his running ability with 52 yards on 11 attempts.

“We don’t want Will to carry the ball as much as he did. If it’s a couple of quarterback run plays and he gets a first down, then great, but it has to be wide open for him to do that,” Holgorsen said. “When the game is on the line, he needs to do anything and everything that he has to do to get first downs, and he did. I knew that about him, he did that at Florida, but we’re trying to control that a little bit as much as we possibly can.”

Following that impressive performance on Sunday, Grier was named the Big 12 Newcomer of the Week. His 371 passing yards are the most ever by a QB making his West Virginia debut.

Receivers Gary Jennings and David Sills were on the other end of Grier’s touchdown passes. Jennings was the top target, finishing with 13 catches for 189 yards and one touchdown. Sills finished with 9 catches for 94 yards and two touchdowns. Ka’Raun White was the third option with four receptions and 74 yards. This was White’s first game back after recovering from a broken leg last season. Other than that, Grier really didn’t have many options to choose from. Development of back-ups at the position has been something Coach Holgorsen has not been thrilled with since the start of fall camp, and after game one that displeasure remains.

“I’ve been saying this for three weeks, we have three guys that he’s comfortable throwing to, and who’d we throw the ball to? Three guys. So, why are we not throwing it to eight, to 10 like we have in the past? It’s because receivers 4-10 are not progressing the way I need them to progress.”

Junior receiver Marcus Simms will be back in the mix and looking to add to production this weekend after serving a one-game suspension for a DUI arrest.

“He’ll be ready to roll,” Holgorsen said of Simms’ return to the line up. “Marcus gives us a speed guy that we desperately need at both those wide out positions”

Redshirt senior offensive lineman Grant Lingafelter left the game with a knee injury and never returned. Coach Holgorsen said he is day-by-day.

*Coach Holgorsen also said he didn’t feel the urge to intervene whatsoever with the play calling on Sunday, and they thought everything went smooth. However, he said he had no idea what to do for the first quarter, and shared this funny story of first experience of not calling plays:

“I was looking for people to talk to. I’m literally talking to myself because the worst thing you can do is click over to the offense and start talking. There’s communication that has to exist and I’ve told people to shut up numerous times. So, I knew better than that, and I’ve never done that to Gibby. I’ve flipped over and listened and change of possession stuff or decisions or timeouts or whatever it is. I hear it and I react to it, but I don’t have the talk button on. When I went to that third line, which is special teams, which those guys go back and forth on a lot, so, I’m sitting there and talking to myself for the whole first quarter. I was just like, “This sucks.” So I went over and yelled at (Ryan) Dorchester to just go to the empty line so I had someone to talk to.”

*So with that, Virginia Tech is in the rear view and East Carolina is the main focus. The Pirates opened up the season with a 34-14 setback against FCS champion James Madison on Saturday.

“They’ve been known to take out Power Five schools left and right as we well know. It happened at West Virginia, I believe, back in 2008. It was about the same year they took out Virginia Tech and North Carolina. They’ve done it consistently throughout their program,” Holgorsen said of the Pirates.

Gardner Minshew started at quarterback and played most of the first half against JMU. He was 7-for-18 for 82 yards with one interception. Thomas Sirk got the nod for the second half, completing 21-of-35 attempts for 210 yards and two interceptions. Receiver Davon Grayson tallied seven catches for 86 yards.

“They brought in a quarterback from Duke that took over for them in the second half, and I think they figured out what their identity is. They started throwing the ball all over the place, almost 35 passing attempts in one half, that’s quite a bit. So, they’re throwing that thing all over the place. That’s what their receivers are used to, that’s what their (offensive) line is used to. They had a hard time running the ball.”

            * The Dukes rushed for 422 yards in the win. On defense, safety Tim Irvin lead ECU in tackles, finishing with eight and Korrin Wiggins added with five. Linebacker Kiante Anderson also had good showing, finishing with six tackles, one sack and a forced fumble.

“They have a lot of (defensive) linemen, they’re big, and they’re running around,” Holgorsen said. “We’re trying to figure out who they are. I’m trying to figure out what exactly they do on defense, because they do a lot of different stuff. They kind of got them out of position, did a lot of blitzing and James Madison greased them for a couple of real long plays.”

WVU is 18-3 all-time while ECU is 0-13 all-time in Morgantown. The Mountaineers and Pirates clash Saturday, September 9 at noon at Milan Puskar Stadium.

“We’re excited about being at home, it’s a Gold Rush. I would assume we’re going to get a lot of people there and it should be a good day,” Holgorsen said. “The main thing is we can’t wait to get back out there and play. That’s the bottom line, so we’re excited about that.”

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