Holgorsen Goes Off on NCAA Rule

MORGANTOWN – With a little over a week remaining before his No. 17-ranked Mountaineers take on Southeastern Conference member Tennessee, West Virginia University coach Dana Holgorsen vented his frustration with an NCAA rule that allows first-year Vols coach Jeremy Pruitt extra time to prepare for their 3:30 p.m. showdown at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C., on Saturday, Sept. 1.

A quirk in the semester schedules for the two schools ended up giving the Volunteers a couple of extra days worth of practices leading into the opener. According to Holgorsen, Tennessee didn’t begin classes until five days after WVU opened classes last Wednesday

“This is a flaw in how the NCAA does its preseason practices,” Holgorsen said. “We did get some morning walk throughs with balls, and that was good. With that said, they get about five more days of unlimited time, which if you add that up, it’s probably an extra week to work once we get into our 20-hour rule.”

Some might counter, however, that Pruitt and his Vols needed those extra days to prepare for a Mountaineers offense led by preseason Associated Press first-team All-American quarterback Will Grier.

Grier, who was named the Big 12 Conference’s Preseason first-team quarterback as well as its Offensive Player of the Year, is coming off an injury-shortened first season in Morgantown where the North Carolina native completed 250 of 388 attempts for 3,490 yards and 34 touchdowns.

“Oh, there’s no doubt that it (having Grier back) helps us and hurts them,” offensive coordinator Jake Spavital said. “Will is an experienced, mature quarterback who is smart enough to recognize what defenses are throwing at him and how to get us into a position to have success against those defenses.”

The remainder of Holgorsen’s 25-minute talk with the Mountain State’s media dealt with depth charts, injuries, roster additions and last Saturday’s scrimmage.

On the injury front redshirt sophomore cornerback Jake Long suffered a broken hand in the scrimmage and will be out for a couple of months

“Hopefully we get him back at some point, similar with what we’ve got with (Brendan) Ferns and (Qundarius) Qualls,” Holgorsen said. “You never know how these guys are going to heal. Other than that, we’re healthy and in a pretty good place.”

On the plus side the Mountaineers picked up a 6-foot-1, 203-pound wide receiver in sophomore Isaiah Esdale.

The Eastern Arizona College transfer — the same school that gave the Mountaineers offensive linemen Michael and Joe Brown — prepped at Eastern Christian Academy, the same school that produced Wendell Smallwood, Daikiel Shorts and David Sills V.

“If you look back at our success rate with Eastern Christian kids, it’s been high,” Holgorsen said. “He (Esdale) knows David and played with David. He was a little younger than Daikiel, Wendell and Kenny (Bigelow), but older than Leddie (Brown) and Randy (Fields). He was at Eastern Arizona with the Brown brothers last year.”

As far as last weekend’s officiated scrimmage the eighth-year coach was pleased overall.

“The energy was there. The offense did some good things and the defense did some good things and we got some good work on our special teams. We spent an hour with the officials going over all of the new rule changes for this season and it (the scrimmage) was pretty clean,” Holgorsen said.

West Virginia was near the bottom of the Big 12 a year ago in penalties, being flagged 79 times for an average of 59.76 yards per game.

Holgorsen and his staff will continue this week taking the players through a mock of what they can expect next week when they take on Tennessee.

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