(Non) Issues Of Depth

Dana Holgorsen

Less than a week away from his WVU football team's season-opener against Marshall, Dana Holgorsen still doesn't know who will start at several positions. But the Mountaineers' head coach, who will make his debut against the Herd, isn't all that worried about those depth chart issues.

Holgorsen, speaking Monday morning on the first Big East Conference coaches' teleconference of the season, said battles at "A" running back and right tackle remain unresolved, and that this week's practices will determine who trots out on the field at those positions when West Virginia first holds the football on Sunday.

"I think we're getting closer," Holgorsen said when asked about the progress his staff has made in setting a two-deep roster. "But you know, we don't care much about starters. You guys care more about starters than we do. And probably the players think about being a starter more than we do.

"Especially at all skill positions, those things just keep rotating. You're going to see a lot of guys that are rotating until they really establish themselves and they start having a good game and all that. So it's not something we really focus on too much. You know, you want continuity, but you want that over time. You don't want it to just be given to a guy. You want to make him earn it."

At the "A" running back position, all three true freshmen will apparently be given a chance to "earn it." Andrew Buie, Dustin Garrison and Vernard Roberts will all play, according to their head coach.

At this point, Holgorsen said, he and his assistants have a solid grasp on what each of the three brings to the table in practice. But how the youngsters react in a game situation remains to be seen -- and that will likely dictate who takes the lead in what is clearly WVU's most crowded positional battle.

"You know, what you do in practice is one thing, and what you get when they're in an actual game situation will probably be better for one or two of them," Holgorsen opined. "And it probably won't be as good for one or two of them.

"Whichever one of those actual skill guys gets the hot hand is probably what we'll try to go with."

The first-year head Mountaineer continued to indicate Pat Eger leads Quinton Spain in what has become a two-horse race for the last starting spot along WVU's offensive line -- right tackle.

As for now, Holgorsen said Spain will be the back-up at both tackle positions. But if Eger has a poor week of practice and Spain has a strong one, that could change before Sunday's 3:30 p.m. kickoff.

"If we're playing tomorrow, we're playing Pat," Holgorsen said. "He's just been playing better. So we'll put him down as the starter. Now obviously, all positions, it's ‘what have you done for me lately?'

"If we need [Spain] to go into the game, we feel comfortable with him going into the game. If we need him to go in, whether it's an injury or we don't like what we're seeing out there, we'll feel comfortable with that as well."

RIFLE REPORTS:

  • West Virginia's defensive line should stand to regain its veteran anchor this week in practice, according to Holgorsen.

    Julian Miller, who had been held out of action since the mid-point of preseason training camp and was wearing a boot on his foot due to injury, stands to be cleared to return to action when players go back to work on Tuesday.

    "From what we understand, he's supposed to be cleared for the whole week," Holgorsen said. "He ran around pretty good yesterday. We'll get him back up here tomorrow and get him checked out, and hopefully he's full go."

    The head coach said Miller was in a green, limited participation jersey during practices last week as a precaution.

  • Despite being only a matter of days away from the season-opener against Marshall, Holgorsen said true game planning work was just beginning. Players wouldn't start studying the Herd until Tuesday, he indicated.

    "Today is [WVU players'] off day," Holgorsen noted. "Tomorrow, they'll get in here and really start focusing on Marshall.

    "We really haven't talked too much about it because we've been worried about getting ourselves better. But we'll really hone in on Marshall. We'll watch film all day today as a staff, come up with our game plan and then tomorrow, bring the kids in and really get them to understand what Marshall is about.

    "You know, there's a lot of familiarity," the head coach continued. "[WVU] played them last year. I coached against them a couple years ago. They're a very young team. This is the second year that Coach [Doc] Holliday has been there, so they're going to be more familiar with what their schemes are, and all those young kids that played last year are going to be a year better."

  • While Holgorsen indicated last week that he has not taken much time to reflect on his opportunity as a head coach, he did show a bit of anxiousness Monday about his chance to lead the Mountaineers into battle for the first time this weekend.

    "We're fired up about that," he said frankly. "That's exciting obviously.

    "It seems like it's been a long time since that spring game. That spring game had a bit of a buzz to it around here, and we're pretty fired up about that from a spring game perspective. But it seems like that was a couple of years ago. So we're pretty anxious to get the first one going."

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