Editor's Note: The following is a transcript of the press conference, provided by West Virginia's sports information office.
"I am going to start with just going over the staff assignments. This is the first time that I have talked to all of you since signing day. A lot has happened since then from a coaching standpoint, and a lot has happened since then from a player standpoint so I will try to get you guys caught up."
"Joe DeForest is going to be our defensive coordinator. Joe comes from Oklahoma State and obviously you guys are pretty familiar with him at this point. We are really excited about what he brings to the table from a Big 12 standpoint. He had been there for 11 years and got those guys to the point where we have had lots of battle throughout the years and understands the style of ball we are going to be playing in the Big 12. I think that is incredibly important. There are a lot of good offenses in the Big 12, and you got to be able to keep playing.
"One of the mottos that we had this year for our team was the importance of continuing to keep playing regardless of what the situations are. He understands that stuff, and they (Oklahoma State) led the nation in turnovers last year. He will really bring a lot to the table. He will also coach the safeties. He is going to spend a lot of time with the specialist. He has had a couple of All-American punters and a couple of All-American returners and kickers. He will be able to bring something to the table when it comes to those guys as well.
"His recruiting duties will be North Florida. He is from south of Jacksonville, so he is familiar with that part of the country and will be able to get in there and do a really good job for us in North Florida."
"Keith Patterson comes to us from Pitt. Prior to that he came from Tulsa, which is where I went up against him for three years. I have a tremendous amount of respect as far as what he is bringing to the table from the fact that he has been a defensive coordinator and he is going to be a co-defensive coordinator here and coach the linebackers. He has gone up against our offense for the last four years and again, going back to going into the Big 12 and the amount of spread offenses that we are going to be seeing, that is really important to have that kind of philosophy. We will be able to line up a defense that we want to go to, which is more of a 3-4 defense, and be able to kick it down to a 4-3. There is a lot of variety in what you can do to that, and it is something that over the years has given me problems to the point where I knew that that was the direction that we wanted to go. He will also be recruiting Dallas and be in the junior colleges in Kansas, Texas and Oklahoma, as well."
"Erik Slaughter is going to be coaching our defensive line. Erik comes from Stephen F. Austin where he worked with Shannon (Dawson) and is pretty familiar with him. Again, it comes back to the same philosophy as far as where we are going and the type of offenses that we are going to be seeing. He is going to have a tremendous amount of knowledge, having to practiced against Shannon for the better part of two to three years and then having a lot of ties in that part of the country.
"We are going to stick him in central Florida from a recruiting standpoint. We don’t want to just overload people from a recruiting standpoint in Texas. We are going to take care of a lot of stuff that we have been taking care of around here for a long time. He is a diligent recruiter, and he is going to bring a lot to the table from a work ethic standpoint."
"Daron Roberts is going to move over to the defensive side of the ball and coach the corners. His recruiting territory is going to remain the same, as he did a great job in Baltimore and Washington, D.C. He is going to take over the entire state of Maryland and also get down into Virginia as well. We haven’t done a great job in Virginia here in the last few years, and Daron is going to get in there and do that."
"We are excited that Steve is staying on board, and he is going to be assistant head coach and special teams coordinator. That is important to me as far as having one guy that makes sure that they stay focused on taking care of the special teams. Last year, we kind of broke it up quite a bit. I thought we got better and worked hard at it, but having a guy that makes sure that he just focuses on it and spends the better part of his day making sure that we do things schematically and evaluating talent and all that is something that is going to pay off. We still got a lot of guys who can work on special teams. Joe has done it for the better part of 12 years. I am going to be in every meeting. Daron and Robert are going to work hard on special teams as well, but to have one guy that kind of focuses on it all day long is really important. He is still going to recruit Western Pennsylvania and he is going to get into Eastern Ohio. He does a great job up there, which we all know has been an important area for West Virginia for quite some time."
"We are going to make Shannon the offensive coordinator, and he will coach the receivers. While he and Daron shared the receivers last year, Shannon is going to be able to take that over and continue to get those guys better and better. He has been recruiting Houston for quite a while. He will continue to go down into Houston and see if we can’t pull one or two kids out of there like we have been doing for the last several years. He will also get into Mississippi junior colleges. He is from Louisiana. We will get into Louisiana a little bit, but primarily it is going to be Mississippi junior colleges and get into Houston and get some guys there."
"Robert Gillespie did a great job recruiting South Florida last year. He does a great job coaching our running backs up. That is what he does, and what he brings to the table is not going to change a whole lot."
"Same thing with Bill Bedenbaugh. He will be coaching the offensive line and getting into the Western Ohio area and then working his way over to his home city of Chicago to see if we can’t get a couple of linemen that look like him."
"Jake Spavital will be the quarterbacks coach. We are going to put Jake over in New Jersey, another area that I don’t think we have done a very good job in recruiting over the last several years. There is a tremendous amount of football players that come from there. I have been told that 30 percent of our student body is from New Jersey, so I think we need to do a better job of getting in there and pulling some guys, which Jake will work as hard as anybody when it comes to getting in there and getting some things done."
On-Field Graduate Assistants
"Vince Cashdollar will be the offensive graduate assistant. He did a great job for us last year. He has been here for the last two years. We didn’t want him to go anywhere. He had some opportunities but wanted to stay put here, and he will be the on-field guy in the spring and really help with the offensive line more than anything."
"Andrew McGee is coming to us from Oklahoma State. He was tremendous player at Oklahoma State. He was All-Big 12 in 2010. He was had some injury situations, or he would probably be playing in the NFL right now. He is a great person, he is a great kid and he going to be a fantastic coach. We are excited about getting him on board and he will be a really good sounding board for our players not only from a personal standpoint, but he will also be able to get out there and help the secondary. He played for coach DeForest at Oklahoma State, and we are excited about him."
"Ryan Dorchester has been moved to full-time recruiting coordinator. Ryan has been here for a long time working diligently on about six different degrees to the point that his knowledge as far as the recruiting bases is really important."
Strength and Conditioning
"As far as where we are at from an offseason standpoint, we are in week eight. This is the eighth week from a strength and conditioning standpoint, and I think these guys are working really hard and I think they are working hard to improve their body. Their work ethic has been good. Mike Joseph is doing a tremendous job as far as heading that up, along with the help of Mark Smith, Darl Bauer, Bryan Fitzpatrick and Kevin McCadem. They have all done a great job as far as getting those guys working hard in the weight room, and they don’t get enough credit, I can ensure you that. Those guys are here at five in the morning, and they stay late at night. They are pretty much running the program right now. Mike is going a great job. I like how those guys are working. I like how the coaches are working. I, in particular, like how the players are out there working."
"Quick little injury update. Dustin Garrison and Terence Garvin are healing from knee surgery. They are both doing good. They are on schedule to be back full speed in June. Jewone Snow, who had a shoulder injury, is improving as well. These are the only three guys that we go that won’t be going through spring practice. Jewone is scheduled to come back in July, but other than that we have about 57 more scholarship guys that are going through spring. We got about 93 or 94 that are on the team. We have a lot of bodies to be able to go out there and practice. That has been one of the themes that I have been harping about for the last year-make sure that we have enough bodies where we can get out there and practice. I feel like we are in a little better situation now then we were. We still got to add about 23 signees."
New signee John DePalma
"The latest signee that we have is John DePalma and we just got his papers in today. We know that Josh Lambert was a post signee. He is a kicker out of Dallas, but we also got John DePalma. He is a 6-foot-5, 6-foot-6 deep snapper. He is a big, tall and broad-shouldered guy. He’s got a great GPA and huge frame. That is an area that we felt we needed to address based on Cody Nutter’s graduation. He was our special teams MVP. That is a very important position, and Joe will be able to work with this guy and get him to the point to where he can help us win some games."
"We are looking forward to spring practice. It seems like it has been awhile since we have been doing football stuff. I am anxious to get out there. You got the schedule there. I like how the schedule set up. We will go three days a week. In spring, you can wear them out, so we try to spread that out over six weeks with one of the weeks being spring break, but that gives you a lot of time to not wear them out, heal them up and just get in as much work as you can. So we will go six practices, and then we will break for spring break and come back and finish up the other nine prior the much anticipated spring game, where we hope to have about 30,000 people. I think we were at about 25,000 people last year, and we would like to get that up over 30,000 for next year."
On the change of his approach to coaching from last spring to this spring
"There are two different philosophies. One, offensively we got nine starters back, and it is going to make a whole lot more sense to us offensively now. Having that many starters back, it is more about developing some depth and getting the starters a year better. Everything that we do makes sense. We got goals that we want to improve on obviously, but it is more about just getting these guys better at what they are doing.
"Defensively, it is going to be more like we were offensively last year. It is new coaches, a new scheme and it is kind of a fresh start for a whole bunch of defensive players. Last year, we didn’t have any starters offensively. We took everybody, we reevaluated them and we ended up getting some guys that hadn’t played in the past like Ryan Nehlan, Willie Millhouse and Tyler Rader and some guys like that and gave them a fresh start. We kind of want that same thing to happen to us defensively. Everybody’s slate has been wiped clean, and they can get out there and they can show these new guys what they got. So different philosophy with what we are doing offensively and defensively, but again it is all about practice and about getting better and getting out there and doing what you got to do to get better.
"I am excited about the specialist returning, too. Tavon is a returning All-American guy. Tyler (Bitancurt) has won some games around here for us. Corey (Smith) needs to work on some consistency, but he pretty much won the Pitt game for us. I like what we got coming back, but we just got to work a little harder to develop some depth and get better on all three sides."
On what is expected nationally since scoring 70 points in the Orange Bowl victory
"We got a plan. I know that it is going to increase the expectations. I know that is unavoidable. It is not how you start, it is how you finish, which worked out for us last year. If we get a little big-headed because we scored that many points, I just got to remind them that we scored 10 against South Florida the game prior to that so we are far from having things figured out. The 70 point thing was a barrage due to the fact that all three sides of the ball played well. We just caught fire, and it worked out. Offensively, watching the cut-ups, there is whole bunch of stuff that we can do to get better."
What they are going to work on in spring practice
"Situational stuff is one thing that stands out offensively, as far as understanding what the specific situations are and how you attack specific things to get better. Third-and-two was something that we weren’t good at. Completing balls in the score zone was something that we weren’t very good at. We got overall objective and we will take it day by day. It’s our whole three-day installation thing that we just got specific things that we want to work on. For us to get better offensively, we are going to have yards and we are going to make plays and all that stuff, but for us to be a good team and to be effective, we got to get better from a situational standpoint. That is what makes you good offensively. We weren’t very good offensively last year when it came to situations."
On the rule changes to kickoffs
"There are obviously going to be more touchbacks. The trend in the NFL, and I haven’t talked to these guys about it much, but the trend in the NFL was more big plays, too, because they would come from eight yards in the end zone and it seemed like there was a lot more return for touchdowns. We will evaluate it and look at it. It is all about what the kicker is getting into the end zone. There will probably be more touchbacks, but then you start relaxing because there has been six touchbacks and the guy brings it out from eight yards deep. That could end up catching some people off guard, and I think Tavon will have an opportunity to do that as well. He may not get as many returns, but he may have some bigger ones."
On Geno Smith and his Heisman potential
"We are not going to talk about Heisman potential. We are not going to do any campaigns or anything like that. It is all about how you do on the football field. Much like the quarterback at Baylor last year, heading into the year, there wasn’t any Heisman talk or Heisman campaigns, and due to the fact that he played good on the field, that’s what counts."
On how his role will change on game day since naming an offensive coordinator
"It won’t change much. Everybody has kind of got his role offensively. Going into a game from a game preparation standpoint, throughout the course of the game and all that, Shannon and Jake both are upstairs in the box and will remain upstairs in the box and give them the information and all that. Shannon is a guy who has been in this offense for longer than anybody and was an offensive coordinator for six years prior to coming here. It is something he has done in the past, and everybody was pretty comfortable with him remaining to do that."
On hitting roadblocks in the Big 12 next year
"Much like we are trying to do defensively, there are a lot of good defensive coordinators in the Big 12, and a lot of those teams have seen it (WVU’s offense) but we have seen it, too. I think there are more unknowns when it comes to West Virginia then what the Big 12 is going to pose as far as what this staff understands. It is going to be challenging, there is no question. We understand what the challenges are and we are just going to try to work to get a little bit better each week and line up and see what happens."
On if there will be a culture shock to our defense next year when facing Big 12 offenses
"You look at what the last three games of the year were with Pitt, South Florida and Clemson- it is not going to be any more spread out then that. The nature of the BIG EAST was a little different, but it had been changing for a couple of years. Especially last year, it had been changing as far as the movement east from those type of offenses going east. It is going to happen more and that is why it is important to have a whole bunch of bodies when we go into camp. We are still looking for about 10 to 15 more good quality walk-ons to get our numbers where we are at 125 to 130. When we line-up in camp, everybody is going to get a chance because you have got to play more people and you have to get guys understanding that the game is different. It’s changed, it’s more up tempo and there are more plays in a game. You have to cover more field. That is one reason why we hired some of the guys that we hired because they understand that better than anybody."
On how the defense will be changing
"We can’t give out all our secrets. We want to schematically hang on to some tricks and all that. Coverage wise, stuff is going to be relatively similar, but the front is going to be different. The fits are going to be different, and how they are going to be coached is going to be different. We are looking forward to getting out there, and everybody is pretty excited. If you gauge our team based on morale and excited, I think it is as high as it could possibly be. So those guys are anxious to be coached."
On the nine offensive players returning and bringing the tempo up
"That all depends on if it works. The tempo thing, we tried several times throughout the year to do it, and it looked like crap so we quit doing it. The better we get, the faster we can go, and that is just part of improvement."
On how the preparation will change now that every game is on a Saturday
"It doesn’t hurt. You can get into a better routine that way. We had a couple of odd games last year, but I think we handled it fine. From a routine standpoint, I think it is going to make it easier."