Continuing to Build

One big thing that West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen said following his team's disappointing 31-19 loss at the hands of Kansas Saturday afternoon came when the third-year head coach talked about the depth his program has been able to obtain in the last few years.

While the Mountaineers have had to quickly adjust on the fly to being new members of the Big 12 Conference, they've had to try to bring in different types of players - ones that could play and adjust to the style of play in their new conference a little better than the ones that would excel in the Big East.

And there have obviously been some growing pains, as West Virginia is 6-11 so far in its first two seasons in the league.

Now sitting at 4-7 after the loss, WVU will be home during bowl season for the first time since 2001. But Holgorsen still believes that the Mountaineers' subpar record doesn't necessarily completely give an accurate look at where the program is heading.

"I'm comfortable with (the direction of the program). Nobody's happy with 4-7, nobody's happy with being home for the holidays," Holgorsen said Monday during the Big 12 teleconference. "We're building a program and the recruiting is going to continue to get better. We need to continue to step up our game as a university and continue to build facilities to stay in line with everybody else across the country.

"We need to continue to improve, we need to continue to build our roster, we need to continue to develop our kids and have Big 12-caliber depth at all positions."

That Big 12 depth is something Holgorsen has talked a lot about recently, and also something that Baylor head coach Art Briles has attributed to his team's success so far this season. WVU has been hit hard by injuries this season, forcing the staff to play a lot of players they would have liked to redshirt and continue to develop until they were truly ready to be consistent contributors in the future.

"We've only had a couple of recruiting classes to be able to sell them on the Big 12," Holgorsen said. "When you go into a kid's home and you can sell the Big 12 and you can sell the venues and the caliber of play, you're going to end up getting a better kid because of it, and we've only been able to do that for the last couple of years."

The Mountaineers will have extra time this offseason to be on the road recruiting kids to try to help build toward that necessary depth since they won't be playing in a bowl game.

"Everybody's challenge across the country is to continue to try to amp your roster up. We're redshirting about 30 guys right now, which some of those guys are walk-ons, and whether they develop into what we need or not only time will tell. But I think we're getting better," Holgorsen said. "I do think that our recruiting has gotten better and I think it will continue to get better."

With 30 players redshirting this season - Holgorsen said a little more than half of those are scholarship players - the WVU head coach said he doesn't regret giving those players an extra year instead of sending them out to play when they might not be ready to contribute.

"You redshirt them for a reason," he said. "I wish we would have been able to redshirt Marvin Gross, Darrien Howard, Jeremy Tyler, those guys need to be redshirted because you need those guys to develop. There are rare instances like Daryl Worley, Wendell Smallwood and Daikiel Shorts that can come as a true freshman and get those guys to play at a good level.

"It's not where you want to be, that's going to happen every now and then, but the majority of the time you want to redshirt them, you want to develop them and you want to get those guys seasoned a couple years into it. Those need to be your backups."

Mountaineers Daily Top Stories