MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Plans for the open week, individual performances, thoughts after the Liberty film review session and preparations for Maryland and the upcoming recruiting weekend dominated Tuesday's Dana Holgorsen press conference. Here's a handful of highlights.
Holgorsen said West Virginia will practice Tuesday and Wednesday before a weight training session on Thursday. The team will then have two days off before gathering Sunday for a practice to begin gaining back some timing after the open week. The Sunday practice is atypical, but is introduced when coming off the bye to get the players back into game week mode.
The Mountaineer coaches will recruit this weekend, with Holgorsen and all nine assistants on the road. Coaches cannot speak with players, but can with coaches. They can also attend games, and these trips are as much about being seen as actually seeing players. Holgorsen also reviewed the performance against Liberty:
Saying he was pleased with Skyler Howard's decision making, the coach noted that there were a handful of missed reads, but that will happen "when you have .5 seconds to make a decisions." Howard completed 21-of-26 passes and looked crisp for much of the game. Holgorsen also said the timing between himself and Daikiel Shorts was solid, as was that with fellow inside receiver Jordan Thompson. The same timing has not yet been honed between Howard and outside wideouts Shelton Gibson and Jovon Durante.
Holgorsen said the blocking of Gibson and Durante was "soft" and that they both could add weight. He called Gary Jennings a more physical player. Holgorsen also said running back Rushel Shell was "trying too hard" within the run game and simply needs to play to his strengths and make some more decisive reads.
WVU defensive coordinator Tony Gibson said he was slightly unhappy with the performance in the 41-17 win over Liberty, and Holgorsen backed that notion after film review. The head coach said it was a mixture of both execution and effort, as the "two go hand-in-hand." he said the defense looked sluggish, for whatever reason, and that it doesn't matter when the game is, where it is, who it's against, etc., the team mindset has to be to have more enthusiasm to play. The Mountaineers will also try and mix in cornerback Rasul Douglas, who arrived late in camp. West Virginia hopes the 6-2, 190-pound junior college transfer can continue to improve this week, then see some action against Maryland before settling in for Big 12 play.
Holgorsen detailed a bit of the offensive line play as well. Tyler Orlosky, who was named the team's offensive champion after the victory, graded out well, and Kyle Bosch had a better game. Holgorsen said left tackle Yodney Cajuste graded out at 95 in the opening win, and was quite good against Liberty. "He got exposed one time and lost his mind for a few plays," Holgorsen said. "But that was good for him."
Maryland's primary weapon is punt returner Will Likely, who Holgorsen called an NFL-level player. He said West Virginia will face NFL talent in the Big 12, and that this was a good initial challenge for them. Holgorsen said the Mountaineers "don't plan to punt the ball out of bounds 10 yards down the field," meaning Likely might get some chances in the return game. We'll see if West Virginia holds to that, or tries to have Nick O'Toole angle the ball out of bounds while perhaps giving up some field position. Holgorsen also noted he was happy with his coverage units, especially kickoff, where "teams haven't gotten it past the 25 (yard line.)" Video of the full session appears below.