Moutaineers' off week fixed on reps, recruits

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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- Pardon Dana Holgorsen for his week's repose, but the focus of this West Virginia off week isn't Iowa State, it's the three R's: rest, reps and recruiting.

Holgorsen said Tuesday that the Mountaineers wouldn't spend the off week only preparing for the Nov. 30 season finale against the Cyclones, a rather hollow matchup, since neither team will be playing for a bowl berth.

For West Virginia, missing out on a bowl game also means missing out on practices in December that coaching staffs typically use to evaluate the nether regions of their rosters.

With that in mind, Holgorsen said, the coaches' top priority in the off week was to use the extra practices to give young and reserve players valuable snaps.

"This week is really more about coaching our guys," Holgorsen said. "There are a lot of guys whose primary responsibility right now is to be on the scout team, whether they're redshirting or they're not ready to play.

"We'll lose some of that time in December, and losing that time is unfortunate, but when you look at it it's only about five or six practices that you're losing. We'll make that up here this week and play a lot of ball."

The Mountaineers practiced Tuesday through Thursday before the coaches, minus Holgorsen, set out to shore up the back of the 2014 recruiting class.

With no bowl game to prepare for, Holgorsen will fully focus on recruiting come December.

Holgorsen's fourth class will put West Virginia back to full strength in numbers. Previous classes, he said, were focused on simply getting the Mountaineers up to speed in the Big 12.

"This year, if we meet our quota of 25, then we're over our scholarship limit," Holgorsen said. "That is the first time that's ever happened. The depth is building. The numbers are getting right."

Holgorsen is banking on attrition to trim the roster down.

"You don't want to lose guys," Holgorsen said. "But the fact of the matter is that if guys don't go to class, or if they fail out or if they don't do the right things socially and get kicked out, that happens when you're dealing with 100 kids. More than likely we're going to lose a couple for a variety of reasons."

Beyond player and roster development, the Mountaineers are in desperate need of good health. A rash of injuries on both sides of the ball have resulted in limited depth and starters playing massively high snap counts.

"It's obviously not where we want to be," Holgorsen said. "We need snaps. We need depth. When guys play 92 snaps a game at the level they play at, it's going to catch up to them."

The other half of the equation involves a handful of starters who are starting only "because they have to" to plug holes, Holgorsen said, so they can still use the off-week practice reps.

Stephen J. Nesbitt: snesbitt@post-gazette.com, 412-290-2183 and Twitter @stephenjnesbitt.


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