West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen addressed the media Tuesday at the Big 12 Conference Preseason Media Days and as the Mountaineers prepare to enter their second season in the league it will be from a much different position than a season ago.
Unlike a year ago West Virginia is entering the conference without much of the preseason hype that accompanied the team being picked 8th overall as opposed to 2nd. West Virginia lost much of its proven offensive firepower from a season ago and instead of an Orange Bowl, the Mountaineers enter the season on the heels of a demoralizing loss to Syracuse in the snow.
"It's the exact opposite, but it's exciting to be in the Big 12 and looking forward to starting here soon," Holgorsen said.
Still Holgorsen isn't worried about replacing some of that offensive production because it will give him the opportunity to get a new group ready, particularly at the wide receiver position.
"It isn't the first time we've lost wide receivers to the NFL and went out there and executed our offense," he said.
Charles Sims, a Houston transfer, was selected as the Big 12 Conference Newcomer of the year and his addition is one that excites Holgorsen, as the running back position will be one of the deepest on the 2013 edition of the Mountaineers.
Sims was recruited by Holgorsen to Houston in 2009 and he will be counted on to make up some of the losses that West Virginia had a season ago.
"We're extremely fortunate to have his services for one year," he said.
Joining Sims in the backfield will be junior college standout Dreamius Smith and returning talents Andrew Buie and Dustin Garrison, giving Holgorsen the deepest and most talented backfield of his tenure In Morgantown.
But the challenge to establishing the run will be finding five offensive linemen up front to pave the way for those running backs, Holgorsen said.
The Mountaineers are in the same situation as many of the Big 12 Schools this season looking to break in a new quarterback after Geno Smith's departure to the NFL, and while there isn't any decision or timeline expected Holgorsen believes all three of his options are capable.
Clint Trickett, a Florida State transfer, is the most game-experienced; Paul Millard has taken the most reps in the offense, while Ford Childress has the most overall potential down the road.
"When one steps up we're going to name him the starter and give him the reps," he said.
One area that was an Achilles heel for West Virginia a season ago was the defense, which struggled mightily in the Mountaineers inaugural season in the conference. Keith Patterson was elevated to the defensive coordinator position filling in for Joe DeForest and his experience calling a defense is something that has Holgorsen excited for the future.
"He's extremely familiar for what we want to do defensively. I'm really happy with the transition, Keith has taken it and ran with it," he said. "…Keith has done that before, he's been a DC before."
One player that Holgorsen highlighted during the media session was Cody Clay, who will provide the Mountaineers with plenty of versatility in the run and pass games.
"With a guy like Cody Clay, he may be our best football player on our team. He can line up in the backfield, line up at tight end," he said. "He can line up at slot receiver and do a lot of things."
NOTES: Holgorsen dismissed the thoughts that up-tempo offenses increase the likelihood that players are getting injured more. However, he did credit the schemes to helping create more parity in college football. And with the schemes heading to the NFL level, Holgorsen said that he would tell other college coaches that have been critical of the schemes such as Nick Saban and Bret Bielema to "get over it, because it's not going to change."