Spring Assignments

WVU head coach Dana Holgorsen revealed his coaching assignments, duties and recruiting areas on Monday in advance of the Mountaineers' spring football practice, which begins this Sunday. The second-year head coach also noted that offensive and defensive work this spring will likely take two very different paths.

As previously reported by BlueGoldNews.com, JoeDeForest and Keith Patterson will serve as co-defensive coordinators in 2012. The duo, echoing Holgorsen, later said that they have not done much work in determining duties and responsibilities. DeForest emphasized that building the defense will be a team effort.

"All five of us will work together," he said, noting that the process of putting the defense together will be a team effort. We haven't had any discussion about who will be in charge of any areas."

DeForest will coach safeties, while Patterson will handle the linebackers. Also new to the defense will be Erik Slaughter, who will handle the defensive line, and Daron Roberts, who will move over from the offensive side of the ball to tutor the corners. Steve Dunlap, who handled safeties last year, will be the assistant head coach and special teams coordinator. He'll also work with the outside linebackers. In the latter role, he will work with other coaches on individual special teams, but will have overall control and responsibility for all six of those units.

Offensively, Shannon Dawson has been elevated to offensive coordinator, and will coach all wide receivers. Game day duties, however, will still remain much the same, with Dawson in the coaches box and Holgorsen on the field, with Holgorsen making final play calls. The other three offensive coaches will remain the same, with Jake Spavital handling quarterbacks, Robert Gillespie teaching the running backs and Bill Bedenbaugh tutoring the offensive line.

The new coaching staff will also have some shuffled recruiting duties, with the revamped Mountaineer staff trying to reestablish bases in historical areas while also branching out into new domains. DeForest, a Florida native, will handle Orlando, Jacksonville and central Florida, while Gillespie and Slaughter will concentrate on South Florida. Patterson will work in Dallas and handle Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas junior colleges, while Dawson will work in the Houston area and also dip into Mississippi junior colleges. Steve Dunlap will move into western Pennsylvania and central Ohio, while Spavital will work in eastern Pennsylvania, primarily Philadelphia, and New Jersey. Roberts will remain in Maryland, with an emphasis on the Baltimore and Washington, D.C. Metro areas, and Bedenbaugh will continue his work in western Ohio and Chicago. Dunlap, Roberts and Spavital will all handle various regions of West Virginia.

"We need to work in all of those areas," Holgorsen said. "It's not just going to be Texas."

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More immediately, Holgorsen has his eye on two different approaches to spring practice.

"On offense, with nine starters back, we are going to work at developing depth, and getting better at what we are doing," he said. "Defensively, it's going to be more like it was on offense last year. We have new coaches, and a new scheme. It's going to be something of a clean slate, for those guys to show the coaches what they can do and the coaches to evaluate them."

WVU's new 3-4 base scheme, which also features plenty of morphs into a 4-3 front, will be the primary teaching target when practice begins next month. It shows three down linemen and three traditional linebackers (Will, Sam and Mike) along with a new position, the Buck. That player will be a combination linebacker and defensive lineman, and will provide the flexibility that allows the new Mountaineer defense to be flexible in multiple situations.

"The front and the fits are different, but the coverages are similar," Holgorsen said of the new systems. "We don't want to give everything away, but there are some similarities." >{? West Virginia's immediate need will be to identify players who can play the Buck, and get them up to speed

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Other Holgorsen Notes:

  • Dustin Garrison, Terence Garvin and Jewone Snow are the only three scholarship players expected to miss spring drills. The first two are expected to be released for full action in June, while Snow is aiming for a July return to activity. Garvin is one player who will be affected by the defensive switch, as he will move down to the strong side linebacker spot.

  • Holgorsen expects 94 players on the field for spring, which should give WVU enough bodies to go full-out during the five scheduled weeks of drills. The Mountaineers will practice on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, which should give them enough time to recover between sessions.

    "We don't want to beat them up during the spring," Holgorsen observed.

  • Holgorsen was quick to cut off any talk of individual award possibilities.

    "We're not going to have any Heisman campaigns," he said. "The guy that won it last year didn't have any of that in the pre-season. The performance on the field takes care of that."

  • While spring is as much about individual development as it is about team improvement, Holgorsen did identify a couple of areas that need attention.

    "Third and two, we weren't great at picking that up last year," he said. "Completing passes in the scoring zone was another problem for us. Even though we scored 70 points in the bowl game, there's still a lot that we have to work on and that we can get better at."

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