Talking Offense with UH OC Dana Holgorsen

"We are light years ahead of last year and it will be an exciting season." - UH OC Dana Holgorsen

DD - Looks like we are off to a great start in recruiting.
DH – The response has been good, we are going into the high schools to see the coaches and players and they are coming out here. Many have commented that they had never been on campus. All-in-all. We are off to a great start.

DD – Next, a question that a lot of fans are interested in. How is Patrick Edwards coming along?
DH – He is probably 90-95%. We practiced the first 30 minutes without contact as we didn't want to take any chances with him. Patrick at 90% is our fastest guy football-wise. He doesn't run track like Carrier. Carrier and Sweeney are faster on the track. It is funny because without a doubt Patrick Edwards is the fastest guy on the field. If you lined them up to run a 100m he might run an 11.2, I don't know, but he is by far our fastest guy.

DD – I think to most of our fans, Patrick was a real surprise last season, do you see any new surprises coming up?
DH – Not like him. Probably the biggest surprise would be Jaryd Anderson, a walk-on kid from Alaska.

DD – I'm glad you brought him up because Jaryd was one of the players that I was going to ask you about.
DH – He played minimal snaps, but had a great off-season and is one of our strongest guys. He watches film at least three hours a day, he was the biggest surprise coming out of the spring. Whether he can hold off Jarve Dean, I don't know. If he can start, it would be a huge surprise, if he ends up as a quality, quality back-up, he is a tremendous surprise. He is going to be as good as Sebastian Vollmer at some point, he is working his tail off. He is 6-4, 280 and the hardest worker on this team. SeaBass has really taken him under his wing and is really working him as he, himself prepares for the NFL. We are really, really happy with Anderson.

DD – Any others?
DH – Justin Johnson, he is a very versatile guy.

DD – I thought that Justin was primarily a RB?
DH – He was, but he started playing some TE, RB, H Back and Slot. He's about 6-1, 230 pounds, and tough.

DD - How are Jarve Dean and Roy Watts progressing?
DH – They are coming along, they came in out of shape, they are trying to learn what to do and get in shape at the same time. We feel good about them and their ability to possibly become the starters, it is just a matter of how the progress and how they players vying with them for their positions take the challenge. We are asking them to work harder than what they were used to at the JUCO level.

DD - Speaking of SeaBass, what about SirVincent Rogers?
DH – He at Miami, a free agent at Miami. I'm not sure how it went down there, but at this point if you get signed and on their team you are in. He may make the team, make it through August or get cut it is hard to say.

DD – Physically, how is he doing now?
DH – I think he has recovered well.

DD - I'm interested to know about the OL and how they are doing.
DH – I like our numbers now, in the spring we were short a few players for various reasons. We didn't suffer any real injuries in the spring and I believe that group is going to develop some real camaraderie. When Josh Bell comes back it will really help, an Achilles injury is difficult one to rehabilitate.

DD - How well did Cotton do in picking up the offense this spring?
DH – Good, good, he's a smart kid. He is used to this type of offense as they had a wide opened offense and he threw for a bunch of yards in HS. He is a cpocket QB, he is bright, he understands what we are doing. He is behind a really, really good one, he gets 50% of the reps, he will be a quality, quality back-up.

DD – So, is Case Keenum set to blow out all the previous UH records?
DH – We are running the same system, he will be better and hopefully, our protection is better as in my opinion it was very good last season. He got us out of a lot of bad protection situations, based on that he the best I've scene in the pocket with his ability to feel the pressure and scramble out of it.

DD – it seems as though he has always felt the pressure well.
DH – Yes and you have to remember that we were after him all the time about not running and to stay in the pocket. He will do exactly what you want him to do, so he would just get out there and in some cases buy time, but time, buy time, buy time until he has to step out of bounds. Our protection has to improve.

DD – Are we going to utilize the wider OL splits like Tech has done?
DH – No because it is to hard to run block. Tech runs when they see the opportunity, we are going to call more running plays. We don't really do what they do.

DD – Obviously, Bryce Beall was a real surprise last season. Have you changed your philosophy a little on the run-pass ratio with a back like Beall?
DH – He is about 6-0, 205 now and he came in here out of shape as a freshman and was never in shape, but now after the last 3-4 months of working out, the guy looks really good.

DD – I was speaking with Isaiah Thompson's dad at the spring game or what little there was of it and he said that he had just spoken with Bryce and he said exactly the same thing about not being in shape. Wow, look out for next season.
DH – He should be a lot better. You know Bryce never really out ran anybody. He ran through some people and had enough in the tank to get it done, but he never really out ran anybody. This season he should have a chance to do that being in the shape that he is now. Hopefully, now he won't get run down and tackled inside the five yard line.He did some tough running, no doubt.

DD – Last season many of our fans criticized our red zone offense. In particular, our ability to gain the tough yard. How do you answer them?
DH – We were not great in the red zone, we study and chart all those stats. One thing that I did not like was that we had a lot of turnovers in the red zone. We were 80% in the red zone, and had a TD 63% of the time which was not good, but 11% of the time we turned it over. We had six fumbles in there. We hammered the RBs in spring on this aspect.

DD - Last year we spoke about the run/pass ratio being around 25/75, although every game will be different based on the defense thrown at us, do you have a goal for run/pass mix in '09?
DH – We ran about 35% and that does not include Case scrambling, those are called running plays. Tech for example has 12% actual called running plays, we are going to run the ball. We went down field about 30% which to me is a little high as it take longer to set up. Going into a game we have it all scripted out, but it can change depending on what they are doing to us. We are going to have about 20% screen plays, 20% quick, 20% deep, then running plays roughly speaking depending on how the game goes.

DD – Did Beall's production change your game planning at all?
DH – Not really, we were really happy with it though. We felt that if it wasn't him then it would have been Andre Kohn. Yard per play we were better because of Bryce, but it really did not effect how we called the plays.

DD – It should be interesting with Charles Simms coming in.
DH – Coach McKinney showed his highlight reel to all of our running backs before the first day of spring and Coach Phillips showed our incoming receivers highlight reels to all of our receivers as well.

DD – That's a great move because it is coming.
DH – They know that from the kids we are recruiting that there will be an increase in the competition.

DD - Speaking of receivers, what about Chris Gilbert, has he showed signs of stepping up for his senior year.
DH – He has been hampered by some injuries.

DD – His brother was a great RB for us.
DH – He is a good player and just needs to stay healthy.

DD - Is James Cleveland set to be here, and do you think he's got a chance to be an impact player?
DH – There is most likely going to be an adjustment period, once he gets in shape and learns the position here he will have a chance to pass Chaz Rodriguez, but I believe that Chaz will have something to say about that.

DD – Chaz has turned into a very good player.
DH – Yes, he a hard worker, tough and solid. Cleveland is going to give the position some competition that will make us better.

DH – He looks like a fully grown man with his beard. He started in the Big Ten you know, so there are some expectations.

DD - Last year we spoke about the wide open offenses of C-USA, should we expect more of the same?
DH – Yes, in the West. The West is like us other than Tulane. The rumor is that Tulsa is going to make a change towards doing more TE stuff.

DD – I've got a friend that is going to be a greyshirt QB at Tulsa, a guy out of Cypress Woods.
DH – Lucas DeVilliers.

DD – Yeah, Lucas, I've watched him grow up and become a fine young man. He tells me that they have told him that nothing is going to change with the offense there.
DH – I talked to Lucas a couple of weeks ago, but the system will change somewhat up there as they are going to work in some TE and FB plays as the OL coach took over. All line coaches are going to run the ball, it is a given so far in the history of the profession.

The East has more of a power running game going on. UCF is going to run it a lot, East Carolina and Marshall are going to run it a lot.

DD – Seems like there is an infuence from the SEC in the East.
DH – I think so. The West is more like the Big XII and the East is more like the SEC in style of play. Memphis and Southern Miss will throw it a little more.

DD – Fedora seems to be doing well for Southern Miss.
DH – He is a good dude and will do a good job. They have a great receiver over there that is a little banged up, but he is very good.

DD – With Malzahn leaving Tulsa, it will be hard to keep all that slight of hand stuff up. It will be interesting to see how he does at Auburn.
DH – You are right about Tulsa and it should be really interesting to see what happens at Auburn, really interesting. He does a good job.

DD – What do you think about Graham Harrell not getting drafted?
DH – I was really pretty shocked, really. He's the best one that has been through there under Leach and I tell Kingsberry that everyday. Case is as good or better than anyone that's been through as well. I tell Kliff that everyday to.

DD – Kliff has been a great influence on Case as far as I can tell.
DH – Unbelievable, that is why he is here.

Back to Harrell, you know he had four broken bones in his left hand and it affected his professional tryouts. The pros think that he is a shotgun guy and in the tryouts it was hard for him to take snaps under center with his hand in that condition and he doesn't have a real strong arm. Then you have the history of Tech QBs not going in the draft or making it in the NFL. The West Texas QB went and they run the exact same offense as Tech, exact.

DD – Leach was pretty bent out of shape.
DH – What he said about the A$M QB was one of the funniest things that he has ever said.

DD – It is true, that was funny.
DH – (Laughter)

DD - The A&M staff really wasted McGee's talent.
DH – Fran ran the guy 25 times a game, why would you do that with Michael Goodson in the backfield? McGee is a good athlete they just used him all wrong.

DD – Will Case have the same NFL problems?
DH – We are not the same, we are going to take some snaps under center. He is more comparable to Drew Brees. Than Graham Harrell, to me. He is more competitive, he is smart, fiery and a leader. We will see how he continues to develop, I think he is pretty good with a bright future.

DD - Key to an improved offense vis a vis 2008.
DH – Pass protection, we have to have better pass protection. We can't just rely on Case to keep plays alive. I wasn't really disappointed, it took three years at Tech before we could really pass protect. Tech throws the ball down field like 60% of the time and that is really high, but you have to be able to pass protect to do that.

DD – A lot of our fans wanted to see us go down field more.
DH – Kingberry got thrashed at Tech in the beginning and he reminds me everyday to be careful going down field because he doesn't want to see that happen to Case. We did and can get better at protecting the QB. SeaBass was solid that's why he was a second rounder, SirVincent was gone after four games, then Josh Bell went down and then we had Chris Thompson a 6-2 lineman on the edge. So we have to stay healthy, know what our roles are and improve. Out of 230 attempts last year, 50 times Case was either sacked or had to scramble out of there, that number needs to go down. It just takes time, we have gotten better at it and will continue to do so.

DD - How is Josh Bell?
DH - He has a great attitude, he is coming off a tough injury. He wants to contribute, get out there and play being a senior.

DD – What do you think about the schedule?
DH – Well, with OSU on the road we got the short end of the stick, we are not going to do these two for one deals any longer. We don't have to, there are enough people that want to come here to play to get exposure for recruiting that we don't have to. If it wasn't for that, I think that the schedule would be fine.

DD - It's a ways off, but what are your thoughts on the Tech game?
DH – We know what they do and they know what we do. The defense will have a lot to say about how the game goes.

DD – Their DC, Ruffin McNeil has done a good job there. DH – He has done a good job, he is a great motivator.

DD – I would think that we have a slight edge in knowing what they do over their knowing what we do.
DH – Yeah, maybe a bit.

DD – It ought to be a fun chess game.
DH – All the games are fun, but yeah, it will be fun. We will not get caught up in that though. Northwestern State will be fun too, they are all fun.

DD – I lke Coach Peveto, he is a great guy and a lot of fun to be around.
DH – Yeah, he is a great guy and good coach.

DD – Well coach, that's about all I had, I just wanted to touch on a few things and see where we awere compared to last year. It has been fun as always and I look forward to an exciting season ahead.
DH – We are light years ahead of last year and it will be an exciting season.

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