West Virginia must replace draft picks
West Virginia could have its share of adversity in 2013.
The Mountaineers started last season – their first in the Big 12 – like gangbusters with five wins in a row, including a 48-45 victory at Texas.
Then WVU lost five of seven in the Big 12 and fell to Syracuse 38-14 in a bowl game.
And to top it off, All-Big 12 quarterback Geno Smith and standout wide receivers Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey were lost to graduation.
“You’re going to lose good players in college football,” said Coach Dana Holgorsen. “It happens every single year. Geno is going to be a great pro. We don’t try to compare him to anybody on our staff or any of that, but we’re in the same situation as, I think, seven or eight other Big 12 schools right now.
The quarterback play in the Big 12 last year was phenomenal, and it’s always going to be phenomenal. It’s just going to be with newer people.
“Who our guy is going to be, I don’t know. We’ve got Clint Trickett coming in, who has probably as much experience in the college game as anybody in the Big 12, just because he’s been a starter in some big games, he’s been around it his whole life. He’s a very smart kid, graduated at Florida State in three years, backed up two first-round draft picks at Florida State in three years.
“He’s been around it his whole life and is a good player. And we didn’t tell him that he was going to start either. He’s got to come in and beat an experienced Paul Millard out, who has taken more reps than anybody on our campus. He’s taken 50 percent of the reps for a long, long time in practice. So he knows the offense better than anybody.
And then you’ve got Ford Childress, who’s going to continue to get better and better. He may have more potential than any of the other guys. He’s just young, with four years remaining.”
But any offense designed by Holgorsen will know how to score points. The wave of up-tempo, no-huddle offense that is sweeping college football has been embraced by the Big 12 but shunned by the Southeastern Conference (except SEC newcomer Texas A&M).
Some think Holgorsen played a big role in the change in offense.
“It depends on who you ask,” Holgorsen said. ” There’s some guys that are are upset about that, but I know we changed it. My time at Texas Tech was very fortunate to be with a longtime friend Mike Leach. When he got the job at Texas Tech, I was fortunate to be able to come in with him at the very beginning. We did a lot of good things over the course of eight, nine years.
“There weren’t a whole lot of teams in the Big 12 that were doing that style of offense at that point in time to whereas now, when you look at it, there’s a lot of teams doing that for a reason. It’s trickled down to the high school ranks for years and years, going back all the way when Coach Briles (Baylor) was at Stephenville High School, which was a couple of decades ago.
“It changed in high school. It’s changing coast to coast. It’s not just limited to be Big 12. You look all the way across the country, there’s a lot of teams that are doing what we’re doing offensively, which is the spread or whatever you want to call it. It’s catching on across the country.
“I don’t think that’s going to change any time soon. As far as the injury thing goes, I don’t have any evidence whatsoever that it’s increasing the likelihood of guys being injured more. I don’t see that.
And then it has helped with parity in college football. “There’s a number of other things that have helped with parity in college football. The spread is probably causing a little bit of parity as well.”
Alabama coach Nick Saban said the no-huddle, hurry up offenses produce more injuries.
“I’d tell him to get over it because it’s not going to change,” Holgorsen said. “It’s going into the NFL, for crying out loud. There’s people being hired in the NFL that have the background in college football to be able to create a little bit more parity. I don’t see it changing any time soon. So you’d better learn to adapt to it.”
West Virginia hired Keith Patterson to be its new defensive coordinator.
“He’s been a defensive coordinator for a long time,” Holgorsen said. “He’s extremely familiar with what we want to do defensively. He’s been doing that for quite some time.
“I am really happy with the transition. One of the advantages he has is he was able to bring in a couple of his own guys that he was comfortable with and that have experience in that defense.
“I really like our defensive staff right now. The communication has been the biggest probably improvement. Keith’s done that before. He’s been a DC before. He’s got a bunch of experience calling plays in this specific defense we want to run, and I think the results will show.”
Holgorsen likes his depth at running back.
“I do feel good about where we’re at running back-wise,” Holgorsen said. “When you look at Dreamius Smith, one of the more sought-after running backs in the JUCO ranks last year, was with us in spring practice. We talked about Charles Sims. Dustin Garrison was a full-time starter as a true freshman, and Andrew Buie was a guy that had 200 yards against Texas last year. So we’ve got capable guys, as deep there as we’ve ever been, that’s for certain.
It’s probably a little bit more important up front, if you want to establish the run game, you’d better have an offensive line that’s able to get that done, and I think we’ve got some quality guys up front.”