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WVU football: Holgorsen looking for leaders

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- His direct replies and pointed comments will sometimes make headlines, and Dana Holgorsen rarely ever backs away from something he says about his team, his fans or even himself. In his news conference Monday, the West Virginia coach walked right up to a tricky topic and then decided to retreat.

Holgorsen was answering a question about searching for and developing leaders on a team that's going to have so many players either new to the squad or their particular role.

"We've talked a lot about that with our group and we started our meeting last Wednesday with that very same subject," Holgorsen said. "What defines a leader? What's the definition of a leader? You can't find it. It's not in any book. It's not in the dictionary. It's not the same very year.

"What I've told our guys this year is we've got to develop leadership. That's for certain. It was a big issue with last year's team - and I mean issue in a bad way."

Holgorsen continued on for another minute, mentioning that it's a process for players who earn a role and then a reputation for making plays. He said a quarterback is often the leader and that a backup quarterback could do it if he embraced the role, but Holgorsen added that he doesn't want Clint Trickett, Ford Childress or Paul Millard worrying about that right now as they try to win the starting job.

He finally closed the quote before a subsequent question sought to open it up again.

"Don't want to expand on it," he said. "I've said for a while that we're not going to talk about 2012. We have lessons that we could take from 2012 that we've talked through with our team. I'm not going to go into detail with that.

"There are some examples that happened throughout the course of the year with a variety of people - a variety of people - and we can take those lessons and we don't want to see that happen this year."

The words lingered in the air for a moment before Holgorsen was promptly asked to talk about how his offense looked at the end of the normal three-day installation period. Holgorsen came back with a characteristically candid reply.* * *

JUNIOR COLLEGE TRANSFER d'Vante Henry and freshmen Darrien Howard and Isaac McDonald weren't with the team when practice started Aug. 1 and Holgorsen said Monday they are still missing.

"Haven't heard anything," Holgorsen said.

Henry enrolled during the summer and the outside linebacker was with the team for some of its summer workouts, but Holgorsen said Henry was away because of "personal problems." Holgorsen said McDonald, a safety, and Howard, a prep linebacker who will play defensive line, are waiting on approval from the NCAA Eligibility Center.

* * *

WVU WELCOMED Big 12 officials to the Puskar Center Monday to go over rule changes for the 2013 season, most notably the targeting penalty. Officials are encouraged to penalize players who launch or thrust themselves at an opponent, strike the opponent's helmet or use the crown of the helmet to punish an opponent.

The personal foul penalty, which can be reviewed, comes with an ejection for a period of four continuous quarters.

"I don't think it'll be as big a deal as people are making it out to be, much like the celebration was two years ago, much like the helmet rule last year," Holgorsen said. "Is it going to happen? Yeah, it's going to happen. In the grand scheme of things, it'll probably be minimal.

"If it happens to a guy who's not high profile, who's not a guy like Karl Joseph, we probably won't make a big deal out of it. If it happens in game one in the second half against William & Mary and they eject him and he's not playing at Oklahoma in the first half, then people are going to make a deal out of that.

"The chances of that happening are probably minimal if we do our jobs and get them to understand the rule, if we teach proper technique and what the consequences are going to be."

* * *

THE MOUNTAINEERS ARE working their way through the NCAA's five-day acclimatization, which is the rule they violated in the 2010 preseason. Teams can only practice in helmets, jerseys and shorts the first two days and add shoulder pads the third and fourth days. Full pads are permissible on the fifth day and onward.

WVU won't have a heavy workload for a while longer, though. Holgorsen said WVU practiced Monday and will practice today and Wednesday "without any live settings" as he refines the installation of the offense and defense and brings along newcomers.

"We're evaluating them running plays," he said. "Do they know how to communicate? Do they know what to do? It's not just the quarterbacks. It's all the other position battles, as well. It's getting in position to what they're able to do when we do put them in live settings. That's when we'll start to make some decisions, but we'll go through it three more times before that."



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