Camp Holgorsen: Receivers Still Inconsistent

Staff Writer
Posted Aug 10, 2011

West Virginia head football coach Dana Holgorsen has been happy with the competition he’s seen at running back. But, he seemed disappointed after the team’s fifth practice with the progression of the receivers. He called them inconsistent, which was also the case in the spring.

“A couple of them have a good day, and then a couple of them have a bad day,” Holgorsen said. “I don’t know how they could’ve gotten worse from the spring, but it looks like a few of them did.”

Holgorsen said the player that stood out to him on Wednesday was redshirt junior Ryan Nehlen, who after a strong spring came into camp as the projected starter in front of senior Brad Starks and sophomore Ivan McCartney at the “Z” position.

The Mountaineers’ first-year head coach said that Starks, who is coming off of a shoulder injury in the spring, is “not even in the equation right now.”

“I’ve seen him practice like twice, so I don’t have any comment on him,” he added.

The expected star of the unit, inside receiver Tavon Austin, has been good in camp, Holgorsen said, but admitted that Austin is not practicing as well as he could be.

Holgorsen spoke a bit in his post-practice press conference about Oklahoma State receiver and 2010 Biletnikoff Award winner Justin Blackmon, who Holgorsen considers to be the most consistent players he’s coached.

“It was everyday,” he added. “A lot of these guys are young, and they don’t understand that. The one that does is Ryan Nehlen.”

  • Holgorsen also seemed pessimistic about the offensive line following practice. The unit that features only three players with considerable experience has been considered by many as a weakness heading into the 2011 season.

    “It’s a process. We’re not going to get anything offensively, defensively, special teams figured out overnight,” he said. “I told them after practice that they’ve got really good coaches, and they need to listen to them.”

  • West Virginia has spent a lot of time in fall camp on special teams so far. Holgorsen said practicing special teams is a bit different from offense and defense, because it is more dependent on mental preparation and assignments.

    The first field goal attempt in today’s practice was blocked, but Holgorsen said the kicking game has been improved compared to where it was in the spring.

    “We’re not happy with it, but over three days we’ve had one block,” Holgorsen said. “Is that acceptable? No.”

    Holgorsen isn’t happy with the amount of time it takes to get kicks off at this point, but he seemed confident that will be improved before the end of fall camp.

    The first-year head coach said he hasn’t seen any separation between incumbent kicker Tyler Bitancurt and second-stringer Corey Smith, either.

  • Former NFL defensive back Troy Vincent met with the team prior to practice on Wednesday.

    “He goes around and educates young men on how to be young men,” Holgorsen said. “If (the players) have opportunities to meet people like that, I think it’s good. It was the highlight of my day.”

    Vincent, now the NFL’s vice president of player development, played 15 seasons in the NFL with the Miami Dolphins, the Philadelphia Eagles, the Buffalo Bills and the Washington Redskins.

  • Holgorsen updated the media on the running back situation again. He seemed pleased with the process and admitted that it is nowhere near over.

    “It’s going to be a fun competition to watch,” he said.

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