MORGANTOWN - The name Joel Filani might not mean much to the most ardent observers of West Virginia football or even those committed to the college game.
In truth, Dana Holgorsen wasn't all too impressed when he was a receivers coach at Texas Tech and Felani was one of his pupils.
"He was absolutely terrible his first two years," Holgorsen said.
Indeed, Filani redshirted his first year with the pass-happy Red Raiders and then caught one pass for 9 yards as a freshman.
A year later, he jumped to 12 catches for 310 yards and two scores before morphing into a two-time first-team All-Big 12 receiver. In his final two seasons, he totaled 156 receptions for 2,307 yards and 21 touchdowns and was drafted in the sixth round of the 2007 NFL Draft by the Tennessee Titans.
"One thing this offense allows you to do is develop kids," said Holgorsen, WVU's first-year offensive coordinator. "This is the beginning product. I think the talent we have is fine. The way guys develop is what I think is most important to me."
Justin Blackmon won the Biletnikoff Award last season as the nation's best receiver for Holgorsen at Oklahoma State. He caught 111 passes for 1,782 yards and 20 touchdowns.
"He was our third-best receiver two weeks into camp," Holgorsen said. "Based on his development and maturity, he ended up being pretty good."
The Mountaineers will get the time they need to get comfortable with the offense. Their first practice was March 30. The 15th and final practice - the annual Gold Blue Game - is April 29. In between, the offense is installed in the first three practices and then revisited and refined in order over the next dozen.
They'll also be given the opportunity on offense to learn as much as possible in one capacity.
Gone are the days of one player learning multiple positions.
"We're not going to have anybody play two positions," Holgorsen said. "We don't even want anybody playing the inside and outside (receiver) positions. That defeats the purpose of getting your skills really good at where you're going to play."
Holgorsen said the offense committed a lot of mistakes the first week of spring practice, which was to be expected and which were to be corrected in subsequent film studies and not on the field.
Part of that is to facilitate the tempo Holgorsen desires, but also to see if the players can handle themselves.
"We're not going to get mad about mistakes. We're going to get mad about effort. We're going to get mad about not paying attention," Holgorsen said.