Shifting Focus

Dana Holgorsen

It's a period of transition for West Virginia. Players, whose sole focus was football through preseason camp, are learning to balance the student and athlete sides of being a student-athlete. Coaches, who were focused just on the Mountaineers, are beginning the process of learning about Marshall so game preparations can begin in earnest next week.

But the poster boy for WVU's program-wide transition in 2011, head coach Dana Holgorsen, insists he has not taken the time to consider the fact that he will lead a football team in a game for the first time in just a little over a week's time.

"I don't think about it to be honest with you," Holgorsen said. "We have our daily schedule, and we have staff meetings in the morning. Then we have film sessions and practice and position meetings, so my day is pretty consumed about what the daily tasks are.

"I don't think much past that. I'll think about it when I'm old and retired. Let's worry about beating Marshall."

And that truly is becoming the focus for Holgorsen and his coaches, who have started to dissect the first bits of 2010 game film from the Herd, attempting to learn coach Doc Holliday's schemes on both offense and defense.

But that is the extent of the study at this early stage, Holgorsen said. MU's personnel won't be evaluated by coaches until the weekend.

The schemes themselves have been studied only to allow coaches to give players certain "looks" in practice that are meant to mimic what Marshall might do in the Sept. 4 opener.

"I don't have any impression on them so far," the first-year coach said frankly. "We started to get some of the looks in practice. We haven't talked about [Marshall] at all. We will gradually start easing in some film.

"But we have been getting the looks. A lot of the looks they will be getting next week, they will be familiar with. Starting to talk about [the Herd's] personnel will happen on Sunday."

On the Mountaineers' end of things though, there is no lack of work to be done before the season begins next weekend.

Position battles at multiple spots -- "Z" receiver and both "A" and "B" running back, particularly -- are still ongoing and may not be settled until game time.

"Receiver-wise, we are developing our eight [most likely to play], but I want those second team guys to beat out the first team guys," Holgorsen said. "Stedman [Bailey] and Tavon [Austin] have solidified the fact that they are pretty good, and we'll play them as much as possible.

"Ryan Nehlen and Sticks [Ivan McCartney] have been battling. Right about the time you think Ivan has edge, then Ryan comes back and has his best day since he has been here yesterday. That is an ongoing deal."

At linebacker, it appears as though Casey Vance will earn the weak-side starting spot over junior college transfer Josh Francis.

Holgorsen also indicated Ryan Clarke has surged to take "a slight lead" among those fighting for playing time at the "B" back spot.

Still, that doesn't mean Matt Lindamood and Ricky Kovatch won't play there. Indeed, the head coach did not indicate the battle at either running back spot is any closer to being decided.

"All seven of those guys are going to play," he said. "I've never been anywhere where seven running backs were going to play.

"It's our job to continue to narrow down when we are going to play certain guys and how much we keep them in there."

RIFLE REPORTS:

  • Representatives from both the Morgantown Brewing Company and Anheuser-Busch were on hand at Thursday's press conference to reveal further information about the sale of their products that will occur at Milan Puskar Stadium this fall.

    Anheuser-Busch will be providing Budweiser, Bud Light and Michelob Ultra brand beers. The majority of them will be sold in 16-ounce plastic bottles, but some kegs will be in use as well, allowing for the purchase of drafts.

    All of Morgantown Brewing Company's products will be sold as drafts. It is offering two "craft" beers -- Old Morgantown Amber Ale and Zach Morgan's Pale Ale.

    While Anheuser-Busch is obviously used to large orders, Morgantown Brewing is not. Its initial order from WVU's concessionaire, Sodexo, was for 50 kegs -- easily the company's largest-ever order.

    Representatives from the third brewery whose products will be sold at football games, MillerCoors, were not in attendance.

  • West Virginia held a much-publicized walk-on tryout earlier this week, and Holgorsen said the team's roster has been bolstered as a result.

    Ten walk-ons were added before the tryout, and another 10 or so were invited to work with the team after the exercise -- which drew about 80 prospective players.

    As for whether there are any "Rudy" types among the bunch, Holgorsen downplayed expectations.

    "The 20 we added are still in shorts," Holgorsen said, referring to the NCAA-mandated acclimatization period, when asked for his impressions of the newcomers. "There are a few that threw up [working out with the team]."

  • While Holgorsen did not offer a full injury update, he did indicate reserve center John Bassler, who was sent to the hospital after sustaining what the coach called "a stinger" during camp, is back in action and providing some needed depth.

    Starting center Joey Madsen also was apparently dealing with a stinger of his own, but practiced the day after sustaining it. Madsen and Bassler both are participating fully in practices now.

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