MORGANTOWN -- With the respect due to the many thousands of people who will be here tonight for the annual Gold-Blue Game at Mountaineer Field, Dana Holgorsen is going to try to treat this experience more like the 15th and final spring practice than the first game, or even his first occasion to show off his vaunted offense.
"You get into the routine of practicing and guys get tired of it, which is human nature, but when you get a lively event with people in the stands, they'll probably get pretty cranked up for it," said the first-year offensive coordinator and head coach-in-waiting. "But having people in the stands shouldn't affect what we do. It's still about knowing what your assignment is and trying to get a little better at your technique."
The day will nevertheless feature some extravagances, beginning with the inaugural Mountaineer Gear Sale from 2-6 p.m. at the Caperton Indoor Practice Facility. A panel of former WVU football coaches begins at 4 p.m. at Waterfront Place Hotel. The Davisson Brothers perform a free concert at in the K-4 parking lot on the west side of Milan Puskar Stadium at 5:30 p.m. and the Old Timers' Game starts at 7 p.m.
That exhibition precedes the Gold-Blue Game, which, whenever it begins - the estimate is 7:45 - will see the final installment of a spring in which Holgorsen has gotten to know his system and personnel by getting to know defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel and his system and personnel.
And vice versa.
The conclusion at the end? There are differences and one does things the other won't see very often during the season, but one also is good for the other.
"(Casteel's) scheme is good against the spread, no question," Holgorsen said. "That's probably why he obsesses over making sure his scheme is good against power football, which he proved it is last year. It doesn't matter what type of offense you run. That defense is equipped to be able to stop it as long as the personnel holds up."
Casteel is overseeing auditions for seven starters as well as critical depth across the field. Perhaps he hasn't gotten the ideal number of looks at running pays or traditional under-center sets with tight ends, but he has seen his defense stressed and forced to adapt to succeed.
"They're like a two-minute drill from the first series to the last and they're able to run the football out of it and able to get the ball out quickly and you have to chase people around," Casteel said. "The biggest difference is these guys want to throw it maybe a little bit more than other people who use a spread."
Amid the regular discussions about how the schemes and the schemers were different and suggestions one might not adequately prepare the other before preseason camp and the development of scout teams comes one realization.
They're actually very much alike.
Holgorsen's spread offense is unique in some ways, but like all the rest in one basic theory. The ball has to be with a player who is skilled and dangerous when given space. Football is like basketball in that regard because the offense is trying to identify and isolate matchups where it has an advantage over the defense.