Time To Focus: WVU turns its attention to Clemson for final phase of pre-bowl workouts

Like Clemson's Dabo Swinney, Mountaineers' Dana Holgorsen invested time in young players during first half of Orange Bowl drills

West Virginia linebacker Najee Goode (photo courtesy West Virginia Sports Information)

West Virginia linebacker Najee Goode (photo courtesy West Virginia Sports Information)

Last spring, West Virginia’s then-offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen says he installed his entire offense in three days.

So it’s not surprising as head coach Holgorsen made little mention of Clemson as he worked his team through the first half of their pre-Orange Bowl workouts.

“We have had six, and today was the seventh,” said last week before sending his players home for a six-day Christmas break. Today we started talking about Clemson a lot and started working toward Clemson.”

Like Dabo Swinney, Holgorsen invested early extra practice time in working his youngest players in ‘camp-like’ situations, while allowing starters and other regulars time to rest, heal and recuperate.

“We had six practices where we focused on the young guys and the non-starters,” he said. “We got them a whole bunch of reps. I was really happy with how those practices went. In between recruiting, coming in and out and the lifting, we were able to get out there and get a whole bunch of work done.

“The six practices that we had with the young guys, those were for the young guys, and we took the older guys out there and practiced them some, but we didn’t hit them very much. We let them heal for three weeks.”

Phase 2 of West Virginia’s preparation included some physical and intense end-of-the-week workouts.

“We are going to give them some time off after that, so we want to T it up,” Holgorsen said. “The energy was there and so was the effort. We need to get some game speed stuff as much as we can between here…We finished the week working on Clemson, trying to get as much as we possibly can get done before we give them Christmas and a few days off after that.”

Once the Mountaineers arrive in Miami, Holgorsen says they’ll have a relatively normal game-week prep for the Tigers.

“We will meet back up in Miami on the Dec. 29,” Holgorsen said. “Once we get down there, we have another four days to prepare. It is about how the attitude is and how much work we are going to get done. Based on what I saw today, everything’s going well.”

Holgorsen said he’s tried to avoid the trap of getting his team ready to play the game too early.

“I have done it differently to where you sit and obsess about your opponent and you don’t try to get your people better,” he said. “Eventually, they’re like ‘yeah, yeah, I get it. I have heard it 100 times. When are we going to play this game?’

“I think we have done a pretty good job of that. Our guys are pretty excited about walking around the building. They are excited to have some days off to go home and have Christmas, and they are excited about the actual bowl game.

“Now it’s time to get to know your opponent and understand why we are going to Miami. It is a reward, and I want them to have fun. I want them to enjoy it, enjoy each other, the scenery and the people. I am going to, too.

“When you set aside four hours, it is time to work. You shouldn’t have to set aside eight hours to work because we should have a lot of work done. You have to set aside some time to where we can get our work done, refresh them and make them understand again why we are down there and then enjoy what the festivities are.”

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