Energy Efficiency

After a day filled with film review Monday, West Virginia football coach Dana Holgorsen had a game plan for the season-opener against Marshall developed and prepared to give players at their Tuesday afternoon practice session. But Holgorsen said he didn't glean much from studying the Mountaineers' narrow win over the Thundering Herd last season.

Instead, to develop his offensive plan of attack, Holgorsen said he looked at film of four of MU's other games from 2010, trying to see how head coach Doc Holliday's defense attempted to stop other offenses that have more in common with WVU's new system.

"It's based on matching up the offenses as well as we could," the first-year head coach said, declining to note which four Marshall opponents he took his lessons from.

"We took something from each game."

But there was one enduring lesson Holgorsen and his staff took away from watching footage of West Virginia's come-from-behind 24-21 overtime win over the Thundering Herd.

"One thing that was very glaring in our game last year was who was more excited to play and who was playing with more effort," he said. "It was evident who was playing with more excitement and enthusiasm. It was very obvious."

That is something the head Mountaineer intends to change if at all possible.

He attempted to explain the delicate balance a head coach must strike between being a master of Xs and Os and one of psychology, attempting to bring about the right attitude from players at the right time.

"It doesn't matter what the other team's record is or where they come from. We want their best," Holgorsen said of his West Virginia players. "We need to make sure our excitement level is high. It's part of the challenge of getting your guys ready to play every week.

"We've talked about parity in the Big East. You better get used to doing it [getting excited about every game], because once we get to the Big East [portion of the schedule], we've got seven straight games where the level is going to be the same. You better get used to figuring out how you coach it and how you play your best every week."

But again, there is a balance to strike. In a perfect world, Holgorsen said, players would not be too amped up about playing just yet, as several days still remain before Sunday's kickoff against the Herd.

And it will be important for players -- particularly the true freshmen who will be called into action often, like those at running back -- to keep their emotions in check once game time actually rolls around, according to the head coach.

"We've got five days until the game to maintain the energy," Holgorsen noted. "We've got to let it build throughout the week.

"You have to take each one of them and figure out what makes them tick. If guys get too geared up, you have to back them off a little bit. With a lot of the older kids, we know what we're doing, but with the younger guys, you have to figure them out. If there are guys that can't settle down, they're not going to play as much."


  • Just before Holgorsen's press conference began, the Friends of Coal Bowl officially became a sell out, according to WVU sports information director Mike Montoro.

    According to a report in the Charleston Gazette Marshall returned 700 tickets because the seats were located in the midst of sections that include Mountaineer season ticket holders. In the past, visiting teams' blocks of tickets have all been in the corner of the stadium closest to the visitors' tunnel and sideline.

    Also, Montoro announced that West Virginia will take receipt of a large chunk of coal, weighing about 350 pounds, on Wednesday. It is being donated by Alpha Natural Resources and will be part of the "Mountaineer Mantrip" that will debut on Sunday.

    It is not immediately clear where the coal will be placed, but it will likely be used as a rallying point for players, similar to "Howard's Rock" at Clemson and other similar traditions that see players touch an object for inspiration before heading onto the field.

  • While Holgorsen has made no bones about the fact that the battle at running back is a crowded one, he indicated Tuesday the field might grow a bit larger still before the season ends.

    Shawne Alston has not practiced for about three weeks, according to the head coach, due to a neck injury. Holgorsen said Alston, a junior from Hampton, Va., could be the eighth player to be fighting for playing time in the backfield if he had not been held out of workouts.

    Alston and offensive lineman Josh Jenkins (who is out for the season after recent surgery to fully repair a knee issue that continued through the summer after his injury in the Gold-Blue Spring Game) will be the only players listed as "out" on the team's official injury report, according to Holgorsen.

    As for those who are in the current mix at running back, Holgorsen continued to play his cards close to the vest.

    "We're still rotating in the seven guys," the head coach said. "We've got four good days of practice this week to rep them and see what each one of them does best and how they'll fit into our game plan."

  • Some details on how coaches will handle certain tasks were offered. Holgorsen said WVU will name captains each Thursday based on the way players played and practiced the previous week.

    Defensively, coaches Bill Kirelawich and Steve Dunlap will continue to work from the press box. Holgorsen will have quarterbacks coach Jake Spavital and inside receivers coach Shannon Dawson to serve as his offensive eyes in the sky. The other assistants will work from the sidelines.

    And Holgorsen said he had not yet decided whether he would opt to go on offense or defense first if his team won the coin toss Sunday.

    "That's a good question," he said, before noting a decision would not be made until after a staff meeting this week.

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