“I thought we had a good week. We got out there, and as it turns out, I’m glad we did it,” coach Dana Holgorsen said Monday on the weekly Big 12 coaches teleconference. “We went recruiting on Monday, then lined up and tried to get better for three days. We focused hard on fundamentals, had a lot of individual time and I think we got that accomplished.
“We kept our timing on offense, worked on lining up properly and finishing plays on defense. We did that for three straight days and got to practice our young guys a lot. Some of the young guys we’re playing with, some of them we’re redshirting. But we did a good job of practicing those guys hard, then got away for a couple days and went recruiting. We sent seven, eight, nine people all over the country to try to do a good job in recruiting. We got everybody back yesterday and had a good night of practice last night.”
Those practices, focused largely on WVU’s own schemes and techniques last week, will now be increasingly geared towards the specifics of what the Horned Frogs are apt to do.
That includes preparing for TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin, the freshman who took over when Casey Pachall left the program to enter a rehab program after a DUI arrest earlier this season. Boykin, though, was injured late in TCU’s loss to Oklahoma State on Saturday. Horned Frogs coach Gary Patterson was initially mum on Boykin’s status, but indicated Monday that he anticipates Boykin being able to play.
“He’s gonna be a good one. He’s a great athlete, got a really good arm,” Holgorsen said. “He’s a dual threat guy that’s going to continue to get better and better. Anytime you play a kid at that spot as a freshman, you’re going to have some ups and downs. I know he’s turned the ball over a couple times, but not only has made a bunch of plays in the air, but he can keep plays alive with his legs and still look to get the ball downfield.
“He’s got a tremendous receivers he can throw to as well. They’re a dangerous offense that moves the ball well. He’s done a good job stepping in after Pachall wasn’t there anymore. He’s been getting better each and every week, and we’ll be shocked if he doesn’t continue to get better the rest of the year.”
With some areas of West Virginia projected to get heavy snowfall from Hurricane Sandy and a steady rain already falling over Morgantown by Monday morning, weather could impact the team’s preparation this week.
“We’re ahead of schedule right now due to being able to have an off week and getting a bunch of good practice in last week, getting ahead on what some of the looks are going to be and all that. So we’ll be prepared to play,” he said. “Whether it affects some of our outside work, I don’t know. That’s going to be day-to-day. I don’t know how it’s going to affect things from a school standpoint or any of that. Everything I’ve been hearing, it’s supposed to get blown out of here and be fine for Friday and Saturday.
“I mentioned this to the team: we’ve got a lot of kids from that area. We’ve got a lot of kids from New Jersey and Baltimore and Washington, D.C., so we’re monitoring those kids and their families to make sure everything is fine. Our thoughts and prayers are with that part of the country, no doubt.”
A story published in the Dominion Post on Monday included multiple former players -- particularly former WVU nose tackle Chris Neild, now with the NFL’s Washington Redskins -- criticizing the team’s new defensive scheme.
“I’ve watched [WVU’s] games and I don’t see that kind of pride on the defensive side,” Neild is quoted as saying. “I don’t see people swarming. I don’t see them attacking ... There are a lot of new faces in that building and you just wonder if they understand the hard edge that every West Virginia defense that’s come and gone has had.”
Holgorsen, asked to comment, emphasized the team would not worry with the opinion of those outside the program currently.
“I’m not really sure who said that, and I really don’t care who said that,” Holgorsen said. “We’ve been telling our players to worry about what we say on the inside, and that’s not only important when we were 5-0 and ranked in the top 5, but it’s important after you lose a couple games. The same people who were saying how good you are are going to say how bad you are. We don’t listen to anything on the outside. It’s all about what happens on the inside.”
For the second time in as many weeks, Holgorsen indicated that junior college players will be a more significant focus in this year’s recruiting class than they might be in a typical year. Because of that, he said the timing of the off week was fortunate, in some ways.
“I think we need some junior college help,” the head coach said. “When you have two or three days when you can get guys on airplanes and fly around...we hit the junior colleges a lot the past couple of days, and we’ll continue to do so.”