Holgorsen Opens Eighth Season at West Virginia

Qualls, Ferns out until November

MORGANTOWN — The preliminaries, as well as his golf game, have come to an end for veteran West Virginia University football coach Dana Holgorsen and his No. 20 Mountaineers.

“Well, summer’s over,” Holgorsen quipped from the driver’s seat of his golf cart. “I just finished my last round of golf. The good news is our summer workouts are over. Basically, the first two practices that we’ve had are just an extension of our summer workouts. So, I don’t really need any questions about how the team looks or anything like that, we’re going to find that out here in a few minutes. It’s Day 3, and we’ve got pads on. We’re excited to see what these guys do here (Sunday).”

Holgorsen and his staff welcomed more than 100 prospective Mountaineers with several veteran players mixed with just enough new ones to give the him mixed emotions about the team’s preseason depth chart.

“I don’t even know if I have a depth chart,” Holgorsen said. “Did we put one out? I think we do that because we have to.

“How many times have I said, ‘I love putting out depth charts?’ I just told the guys in there, we have a Group 1 punt team, a Group 2 punt team and a Group 3 punt team. So, I won’t use depth charts. With all of these young kids and new kids, they have to understand that they may have people in front of them but work hard and try to beat them out.

“I don’t look at depth charts until a week before a game. I don’t talk about redshirting — it’ll be different now — but I don’t talk about redshirting until a week before the first game.”

There were just as many uncertainties on the injury front.

Redshirt junior linebacker David Long Jr. — a preseason All-American candidate — is ready to go. But, two other linebackers — senior Quondarius Qualls and redshirt sophomore Brendan Ferns — won’t be available until November.

“(Long) looks the same. I don’t even know who else was hurt. Qualls and Ferns are out, but there’s another deal. Those guys are going to come back with about four weeks left to play and guess what — we’re going to go ahead and play them. Ferns is not even going to need a redshirt. He’s going to have about 18 doctorate degrees before he leaves here, but a guy like Qualls, who’s a fourth-year senior, he can come back and play in the last game, and we’ll still be able to use him next year. So, it’s a great deal for him. Those two guys are out. Other than that, everybody is healthy and ready to go.”

Health and continuity are the two things WVU’s head man is most concerned with as the Mountaineers prepare for its season opener against the University of Tennessee at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C.

“We understand continuity, and we appreciate continuity,” Holgorsen said. “It’s becoming a rare thing in college football, whether it’s an entire new coaching staff or, we’ve had to deal with replacing a whole side, or six position coaches or whatever it is. We understand, we know, and we appreciate continuity, and we understand that we have a very mature group. There’s a lot of excitement within us. There’s been times where I didn’t really want vacation to end; we were all excited when vacation ended. We were all ready to get to work.”

As is every Mountaineers fan.

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