New-look WVU installs Holgorsen's offense
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The spotlight shined on West Virginia offensive coordinator and coach-in-waiting Dana Holgorsen, as the new-look Mountaineers opened spring practice Wednesday.
Armed with a new offensive staff, playbook and philosophy, West Virginia went to work installing and understanding a different style of play — and the offense was not as rusty as most coaches anticipated.
"There weren't as many missed assignments as I thought there would be," coach Bill Stewart said. "It's been a long winter, so they were glad to be out here."
Holgorsen, who did not address reporters yesterday, has said the system can be put into place in three days.
"There's going to be a lot of mistakes. When you watch film, there's going to be a lot of mental mistakes out there. But these kids are pretty sharp," said inside receivers coach Shannon Dawson.
West Virginia will spend Friday and Saturday installing the remainder of the offense and repeat what it did during the first three practices in the second week of workouts. From there, Holgorsen and Stewart will decide if the offense needs to continue to work on the basics or move onto fine-tuning other areas.
"We don't run too many formations, so you don't have to run around a lot. You should know where to line up if you line up in two places," Dawson said. "We'll run the same plays, but we'll utilize them differently. We can't put the whole package in in a day."
West Virginia welcomed new receivers coach Daron Roberts to the staff. He was hired earlier this week after leaving the Detroit Lions. The Harvard graduate and Texas native said he made the step back to college because of the opportunity he believes West Virginia will have to succeed in the future.
"I called a lot of people around the league, and to a man people didn't hesitate to say 'Go there,' " Roberts said. "This feels like the town I grew up in in Texas. People care about the sport in a good way. I don't think there's a lot of college towns that are so fervent about football (as) Morgantown."
West Virginia had a healthy Geno Smith at quarterback for the first time since the 2009 Gator Bowl. He is coming off successful foot surgery and competed in all drills on the first day of camp.
"He looked good. I saw him burst off on a couple of play fakes," Stewart said. "He did a really good job."
The Mountaineers also will have more than two healthy quarterbacks this season, as two freshmen — Brian Athey and Paul Millard — took snaps alongside Smith.
Former Norwin High School product Tyler Urban stood out on the first day of practice, Stewart said. The former tight end has been moved to slot receiver, where he is being compared to Pitt receiver and Urban's high school teammate Mike Shanahan.
"I told Tyler when I met with him, because he was probably a little leery of us coming in, if you make plays on the field, we'll put you on the field," Dawson said. "If he keeps doing what he did today, then he'll play."