03 August 2012
Members of the West Virginia University football team met with the media earlier today to talk about the start of practice, changes within the offense and defense, and head coach Dana Holgorsen.
On excitement for the start of camp
Everyone is running around ready to play. Everyone is excited to get the pads on and play. There has been a lot of trash talking and stuff like that going on around here.
On the switch to the new defense
It wasn’t really that hard of a change. Guys have transitioned into the new scheme pretty easily. We have just been trying to master the new defense. We have just been using our technique and going over different disguises we will be using in games.
On how the new defense affects his style of play
For the most part, it is the same for me as a defensive end because you are still rushing the passer and playing the run.
On third-down defensive packages
We are always going to be working on third down because the Big 12 is a passing league.
On how the offensive line will benefit in year two of its scheme
Last year, there were a lot of guys that were first-year starters or first-year players. This year, a lot of those guys have gotten a fair share of reps heading into the year. It will be similar to the defensive line in some ways because they have to use technique to master their scheme.
On if the defense will be the key to this team’s success
It will be a dual effort. If we are going to win, it has to come from both sides. The offense will need to step up, and the defense will need to step up.
On the transition for a freshman playing defensive line
If you look at our young guys now, it is still early. A lot of the young guys look good from a defensive line standpoint. They are flying around out there while they are still trying to learn. Once we get the pads on, we will start to see who can play. As an offensive lineman, you have to balance the weight aspect, the speed aspect and power aspect. There are so many more things to learn. As a skill guy, you just have to learn and get the speed down in order to be successful.
On how the defense will stand up against the run
I think I have played against the run pretty well during my career. I played against LSU last year and was able to make about 10 tackles against a team with a 285-pound fullback. My weight was lower back then. Either way that will not make a difference. I believe I can stand in there against running teams. It is up to the coaches to decide how we are going to attack that.
On if the new defense is an easier concept
The 3-3-5 is a defense that engages you with linemen a lot. I never engaged with linemen on every single play like I did last year. With this defense, you have a little more freedom. You are able to show off your craft. This defense and these coaches allow you to showcase your abilities on every snap.
On if there are less assignments in this defense for a linebackers
You still have to cover down on scat backs, but that goes into what play is called on defense. The 3-3-5 forces you to cover down on scat backs, go into the flats, take on a guard and cover receivers. This defense is a lot more condensed for players.
On different gap assignments in this defense
In the 3-3-5, a linebacker essentially ended up being a defensive lineman because he had to take on blocks to open things up for safeties. If that was the way it was in the NFL, a lot of linebackers wouldn’t have a long, successful career.
On if he is 100 percent heading into the season
Right now, I am 100 percent. I feel pretty good.
On the different backfield looks
It helps a lot that we are able to show so many different schemes and looks. It allows us to do so many different things. I think all of us can do the things that a fullback would need to.Ryan Clarke is usually going to be that fullback, but there are times when I am going to be able to do that, too. We can keep the defense guessing as far as what we are going to do.
On if the offense may run more
I would say that it is a possibility. It will depend on how the game is going. If we are up by a lot of points, then yes, we will run the ball more to keep the clock running. If we are down, we have Tavon (Austin), Stedman (Bailey) and Geno (Smith). So, I wouldn’t be mad if we started to throw the ball.
On how Dustin Garrison handled his knee injury and how he helped relate
I just told him that he needed to trust the training staff. He just has to continue getting treatment. A lot of players will take the attitude that their injury is feeling good so they will stop going to treatment. Once you do that, things start to come back and compound. You just have to keep working at it.
On if the running game can open some eyes
We can definitely run the ball, but we just have so many playmakers out there. When you have Tavon and Stedman out there, you have to give them the opportunity to make plays. At the same time, we will get our fair amount of carries.
On how timing with the quarterbacks was on day one of camp
I would say that our timing was pretty good for day one. We put in a lot of work during the off-season doing 7-on-7 drills as well as coming in on Saturdays.
On reporting to camp
We know that we have a chance to do some pretty big things. We will have a lot opportunities on the table. We are just ready to go out there and have some fun.
On Tavon and his accomplishments and how they improve
As far as catching the ball and running routes, that is something that we are always going to be working on every day. We want to make sure we are right on time with all the quarterbacks. There were times last year we weren’t on the same page during some big games, but that is something we are looking to overcome this year.
On year two in coach Dana Holgorsen’s offense
We know what coach Holgorsen wants out of us. The fact that we have been together for a whole year means that we have that trust with each other. It is coming together pretty good right now.
On what coach Holgorsen has meant to him
Coach Holgorsen is a great guy. I can relate to him a lot. There are just so many opportunities to make plays in his offense, and it was a great feeling knowing he was going to be bringing that to us whenever he came here.
On how his return to camp from injury has gone
It was a great feeling to be out there running around. It feels like I am fully back. I am in a better position than I was last year. It is a blessing to be back where I was. It is an honor and a privilege, so I am just going to take it all in. I have been 100 percent. I wouldn’t be out there if I wasn’t 100 percent because I wouldn’t be benefitting myself or my team. All I can do is keep rehabbing and keep up on maintenance. If you worry about your injury, you are going to get hurt again, so you just have to play the game.
On the offensive line’s skill this year
We have a lot of depth and a lot of young guys. We have some guys that have been out there and played before. It would be nice to see the younger guys step up during camp. We would like to see those guys get some reps in games too, but we have to get in pads before we start thinking about any of that.
On how far the line has come since he played two years ago
We were all young at one point, but we are all maturing each year. Our middle three, our seniors, we take pride in all of that. We want to go out there and be the best we can be.
On what coach Holgorsen has meant to him
He gave me the chance to redshirt last year, and I am honored that he let me do that. He is a smart coach and he knows what he is doing. Really, coach (Bill) Bedenbaugh is the one that has been there for me. Head coaches have to oversee so much in a program, so it can be tough for them to get with you. Your position coach is the man to go to. Coach Bedenbaugh has done a wonderful job with all us. He brings out a whole different side than anyone ever sees from us.
On if he has anything to prove
No, I don’t think I have anything to prove. I have played the game before. I am just going to go out and play to the best of my ability. Everyone is going to have an opinion about our play, but I am not going to care unless it is coming from our coaches.
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