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Holgorsen develops players for his offense


By Mike Casazza

Charleston Daily Mail, W.Va.


April 06--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.

"If you've got a little bit of a lazy streak, if you're not playing smart, we'll get mad about stuff like that as far as mistakes go. As the spring goes on and we continue to make mistakes, that's when you'll see me get pretty angry."

WVU began its second week of practice Wednesday and it was the first day in full pads with full contact. Everything else was essentially the same as the first practice a week earlier.

"Are the mistakes made in practice No. 4 the same as practice No. 1?" Coach Bill Stewart asked. "That's what we're going to find out this week."

What Stewart discovered Wednesday is the Mountaineers cleaned up a few things, but were not yet ready for what was asked of them.

"This is full pads," Stewart said. "This is a new offense for us. We've got to work on fundamentals. I saw too many guys on the ground and too many guys not finishing the job of the day."

As in all things, Stewart and Holgorsen would rather see progress sooner rather than later, but given the way the spring will progress and players will develop, they'll accept those improvements are better late than never.

"Now after day No. 6, how much do we have to go back and do on the first day of the third week -- practice No. 1 -- again?" Stewart said. "At that point, after six practices, we have to figure out what these guys are doing well, but at that point, if we're not doing something well we need to either get good at it or get out of it."

The third week ends April 16 with the first scrimmage of the spring and Stewart and Holgorsen will again evaluate where the team stands entering the final two weeks.

"Do I stick with the lesson plan or do I deviate from the subject to get to the means?" Stewart said.

FORMER WVU cornerback Brandon Hogan was arrested by Morgantown police Tuesday for driving on a license suspended or revoked for DUI.

Hogan was involved in an afternoon accident and alleged to have been driving a car that was not registered in his name. He was charged and released on a personal recognizance bond and faces separate hearings in local court and with the state Division of Motor Vehicles.

The native of Manassas, Va., was arrested in September for DUI and suspended for WVU's victory against Maryland.

Hogan pleaded guilty in February as part of an agreement to enter into the state's deferral program. In that program, Hogan was eligible to have the charge dismissed and the incident expunged from his record if he met conditions that included a suspension of his license.

Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at or 304-319-1142. His blog is at


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(c) 2011, Charleston Daily Mail, W.Va.

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.


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