Holgorsen Likes Expectations for West Virginia

West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen speaks during the NCAA college football Big 12 media days in Frisco, Texas, Tuesday, July 17, 2018. (AP Photo/Cooper Neill)

FRISCO, TEXAS — Veteran West Virginia University football coach Dana Holgorsen has become accustomed to having difficult questions concerning his team.

That might explain why the leader of the Mountaineers was all smiles when he took his turn at the podium during the Big 12 Conference’s Media Days.

“Day 2, Year 8 for me,” WVU’s coach said. “It’s good to be here, good to be back. It’s an amazing place every time I come back here. We’ve been here about four times. What an unbelievable place. They were gracious enough to let us practice in here when we were getting ready for the bowl game, so it’s a great practice situation obviously, but they do a great job of hosting this event as well.

“I can see why Tavon Austin is excited right now. He’s a Cowboy now. He’s excited. Got traded over here and came here and took him two minutes to figure out this was a pretty awesome place. He’s excited to be here. Our guys are excited to be here. It’s getting close.

”We’ve still got a little bit of vacation left, so we’re not going to start practicing here (today). But we’ve got two and a half weeks. They let us practice Aug. 2. So that’s when we will get started. I’ll take questions.”

And, take questions Holgorsen did.

Few, if any, of the queries were unexpected and West Virginia’s field boss appeared ready, and willing, to answer any and all of them.

The first dealt with all of the high expectations being placed on the Mountaineers.

“Well, we welcome expectations. Heck, you want ’em to talk about you. We want you guys to talk about us.

”I think we got a good group coming back. Had a decent year last year, did some good things offensively. But there are a whole lot of things that I feel like we can do better and our guys think they can do better. We want improvement.

“Handling the expectations aspect of it, that’s what you want. I know I’m going to get a lot of how you handling the pressure of being picked second or whatever is it is. I don’t care where you’re picked, doesn’t matter, there’s pressure everywhere.

”Pressure to live up to the expectations or pressure to create expectations, and I think our guys are old. I think our coaching staff has tremendous continuity, been around, working together for a long time. That helps manage things, then we’ve got old players which is going to help manage things as well.”

Five of those players – seniors Will Grier, David Sills V, Dravon Askew-Henry and Yodny Cajuste, as well as junior David Long Jr. – made the trip to the Lone Star State with Holgorsen and, as expected, the media had a lot of questions about one player in particular — Heisman Trophy candidate Grier.

“I would never approve a campaign unless I felt like a player could handle it. That’s my job as far as managing players and Will is a very older, mature coach’s kid,” Holgorsen said. ”I’ve made this comment several times. He’s ready for this, he’s prepared himself his whole life for us and you will see as you talk to him throughout the course of the day, I got no worries about him not understanding expectations and how to deal with expectations.

”He’s a very mature kid. He can handle this. He’s prepared. He’s played a lot of football. He played so much football in high school. He’s played a lot of college football. You can tell in spring practice that the game has slowed down for him, so he’s a cerebral kid and understands what’s out there and what he’s got to do.”

When not answering questions concerning Grier, Holgorsen spent time talking about his views on recruiting, gambling and Kansas State’s Bill Snyder.

Then, WVU’s head coach left the crowded room with the same smile he entered it with knowing it will be several weeks before he will have to answer more questions.