WVU Gameday Blog

Holgorsen press conference news and notes

The Mountaineers must bounce back from their second loss of the season when they host Texas Tech on Saturday.

Head coach Dana Holgorsen said that his team was obviously disappointed with the seven-point loss to TCU, but they appeared to respond with good energy when they met Sunday.

Here are some other takeaways from the team’s weekly media availability:

WR depth still a question

Depth at the wide receiver position has been an issue all season but was once again shown to be an issue on Saturday when only four wideouts caught passes.

Asked about the depth, Holgorsen, talking somewhat intensely, said they’d hoped this issues would’ve been taken care of a long time ago.

“Two months ago,” he said. Then followed that by saying it needs to improve, “Now!”

Offensive coordinator Jake Spavital said inexperience of the second group of receivers does play a part into the depth issues.

Reggie Roberson appears to be the next man up.

Finishing possessions

When asked about being unable to finish drives with points in the first half Saturday, the head coach agreed that was an area they needed to improve on in that game.

He did defend his offense, and rightly so, in that they’ve been more consistent at finishing lengthy drives this year than in recent seasons.

Fifteen times this season WVU has covered at least 75 yards in on possession and scored, with only one of those drives ending with a field goal.

Holgorsen pointed out that part of the problem Saturday was four times being pinned inside the 10-yard line in the first half against a well-coached TCU defense.

TTU playing better

Any questions about what the Texas Tech offense would look like in the post-Patrick-Mahomes era have been answered. It’s just as explosive.

“Texas Tech is playing good,” Holgorsen said. “They’re playing probably as good, or better, than we’ve seen since that first year we played them.”

Texas Tech has the highest-scoring offense in the Big 12, and quarterback Nic Shimonek is averaging over 386 passing yards per game.

Even though the stats may suggest that the Red Raider defense is still doing its best to maintain the Big 12’s “lack of defense” stature, Holgorsen said they can’t be taken lightly.

“We’ve got our work cut out for us when it comes to them,” Holgorsen said. “They’re sound in what they’re doing. They’re executing very well.”

Asked about the improvement of the TTU defense, Spavital said that he’s completely stopped looking at film of last year’s defense because this year’s Red Raider defensive unit is playing so much better.

Possibility for big days

Despite the improvements on defense in Lubbock, WVU wideouts may have the chance to have their best games yet.

Spavital said that Texas Tech’s defense creates a lot of one-on-one matchups with wide receivers.

“They’ve got some confidence in their guys,” Spavital said. “It’s a scheme that, they’re going to put us (in) one-on-one battles, and we’ve got to win them all.”

According to the depth chart, the Red Raiders are only planning on playing just two defensive backs taller than exactly 6 feet tall. That could bode well for West Virginia, that has David Sills V (6-4), Ka’Raun White (6-1), Gary Jennings (6-1), and Marcus Simms (6-0) that likely have the ability to get up higher than their defenders.

Mountaineer Offense Confident Following Scrimmage

Most teams introducing a new starting quarterback, a new offensive coordinator and a talented but somewhat inexperienced receiver unit may be left wondering what lies ahead of them entering the season.

West Virginia doesn’t fit that stereotype.

The Mountaineer offense seemed very confident in itself following Friday’s 100-play scrimmage at Milan Puskar Stadium.

“We were kicking (the defense) this week,” said Ka’Raun White. “But it’s all competitive, all love at the end of the day.”

WVU redshirt-senior wide receiver Ka’Raun White talks to reporters on the field Friday following the Mountaineers scrimmage. Photo by Ryan Decker

Not only do the players sound confident in themselves, but are excited to be in an offense operated by new OC Jake Spavital.

“Coach (Spavital) is putting the players in great positions to make plays,” David Sills V said. “He’s calling great pass concepts. He’s getting the running backs in great positions to make plays. We’re also playing at a great tempo right now.”

As for the scrimmage itself, junior wideout Gary Jennings thought units from both sides of the ball made strides.

“We were able to go over many of our progressions, many of our plays, and I think it went very well overall, both offensively and defensively,” said Jennings.

Asked about how much farther the offense needs to go to be ready for the season opener next month, Jennings said they’re close.

“We’re meshing very well. We’re jelling very well,” he said. “We’re not far away from being very good.”

Jennings acknowledged that timing is coming together between quarterback Will Grier and the rest of the offense, and Sills agreed.

“Will’s put constant work in throughout the summer,” said Sills. “He’s very smart. He knows how to get us in good positions to get the ball and he’s very accurate whenever he throws the ball.”

Kennedy McKoy, who is expected to see a number of snaps both from the running back and inside receiver positions, detailed how the adjustment can help him have a better understanding no matter where he’s at on the field.

“Now when I’m at running back and (Grier) gives a signal, I know what the inside slot is going to do,” McKoy said. “So if I have a check down I know not to go in that area because I know what route he’s running. Yeah, it helps a lot.”

The sophomore tailback said it’s the little things that he’s focusing on now that he better knows the offense from both positions.

Last year the Mountaineer offense racked up an average of 485.5 yards per game, including over 220 yards on the ground for the second year in a row. But from a scoring standpoint, are looking to return to the numbers they were producing in 2011 and ’12 when Spavital was the quarterback coach.