Dana Holgorsen

Photo Credit: Jenna VonHofe | Daily Texan Staff

DALLAS ‒ Big 12 media days concluded Tuesday at the Omni Dallas Hotel, and while new Texas coach Charlie Strong was the main event, his counterparts left their mark on the second day of the event as well.

The day started with the Big 12’s coordinator of officials, Walt Anderson, who outlined new rules for the 2014 football season. Anderson announced there would be changes to the instant replay process, helmet-to-helmet contact and roughing the passer.

After Anderson, College Football Playoff director Bill Hancock discussed how the playoff system and committee will work.

“The playoff provides universal access,” Hancock said.  “There's no more automatic qualification.  And, yes, everyone benefits financially.  The conference has managed this event just like they manage the BCS.”

Following Hancock were Big 12 coaches: Bob Stoops, Paul Rhodes, Dana Holgorsen, Bill Snyder and Strong.

Oklahoma: Stoops, Sooners primed for championship run

2013 was deemed a rebuilding year for Oklahoma and it was a pretty successful one as the Sooners finished the season at 11-2 and upset SEC powerhouse Alabama in the Sugar Bowl.

With the surprise victory over Alabama, Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops and Oklahoma are prepared to make a run for a Big 12 title and a berth in the first ever College Football Playoff.

“I think, as much as anything, [the Orange Bowl win] inspired our players to really to build on it in the winter in the way we trained,” Stoops said.  “The way we went into spring and we had a fabulous summer … just the chemistry and their willingness to work when they see the benefits of it like that.”

Iowa State: New offensive coordinator to boost Cyclones

Iowa State struggled in 2013, finishing the season with an abysmal 3-9 record.

But Cyclones head coach Paul Rhodes added Mark Mangino as the team’s offensive coordinator, a move that should help the Iowa State offense improve significantly.

“I reached out to [Mangino] and certainly had great respect for what he's done in our profession,” Rhodes said. “We're going to deploy a lot of three wide receiver sets and one back offense. We're not going to huddle. Those are things that are familiar to the Iowa State fan base.”

West Virginia: Holgorsen, Mountaineers still trying to find footing in Big 12

The West Virginia Mountaineers were among the top teams in nation when they were a member of the Big East, but the transition to the Big 12 has been difficult.

The Mountaineers have struggled to adapt to the Big 12’s style of play and head coach Dana Holgorsen knows speeding up the adaptation process will be key to their success.

“One of the things that has happened in the Big 12 over the last two years, we have not been dominant in the Big 12,” Holgorsen said. “We've been competitive … Hopefully, we can put a season together that everybody will be proud of.”

Kansas State: Wildcats looking to build off strong 2013 finish

The Kansas State Wildcats opened the 2013 season with a shocking loss to the North Dakota State Bison. The opening game loss fueled a 2-4 start for the Wildcats but they were able to finish strong, as they went 6-1 in their final seven games including a victory over the Michigan Wolverines in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl.

Kansas State head coach Bill Snyder is hoping the team’s strong finish last year will help the Wildcats mature into a better team in 2014.

“The hope would have been, and was, that we had learned lessons along the way,” Snyder said. “The lessons dated back to the outset of the season in which we were not a very good football team … I think that the way that our young people finished the season allowed them to understand the value of not taking anything for granted.”

President William Powers Jr.  and the UT System Board of Regents are set to begin the search for a replacement for retiring Texas men’s head athletic director DeLoss Dodds. While Dodds’ advance warning gives the Longhorn brass plenty of time to find a successor, Powers reportedly wants to make a hire by Dec. 1, so expect the search to start immediately.

Here are a few potential candidates for the job:

 

Oliver Luck

Believed by many to be the favorite, Oliver Luck is a Texas law graduate and the current athletic director at West Virginia.

Luck’s tenure in Morgantown has been impressive, with his most notable accomplishment for the Mountaineers being a successful transition from the Big East to the Big 12. Luck also hired former Oklahoma State coach Dana Holgorsen to replace Bill Stewart at West Virginia in 2011.

 

Bob Bowlsby

The current Big 12 commissioner, Bob Bowlsby has been linked to the Texas athletic director job on several occasions.

Bowlsby has plenty of administrative experience, including stints as athletic director at Stanford, Iowa and Northern Iowa. He was also on the U.S. Olympic Committee for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

While Bowlsby has previously denied interest in the Texas position, his name is reportedly high on Powers’ list.

 

Tom Jurich

Tom Jurich, the director of athletics at Louisville, is another name that continues to make its rounds on the rumor mill. Jurich was hired by Louisville in 1997, after serving in the same role at Colorado State and Northern Arizona. 

A few notable accomplishments at Louisville include engineering the program’s move to the Big East, hiring Rick Pitino to lead the men’s basketball program, overseeing the completion and renovation of Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium and, most recently, hiring Charlie Strong to re-establish the Louisville football program as a Big East powerhouse.

 

Jack Swarbrick

Perhaps the most high-profile candidate, Jack Swarbrick currently serves as Notre Dame’s athletic director.

The Notre Dame gig is Swarbrick’s only experience as an athletic director, but it should be more than enough. Notre Dame is one of the few schools which attracts attention similar to that of Texas, though, he claims he is not interested in coming to Austin. When asked about possibly replacing Dodds last week, Swarbrick said, “I feel like I have the best job in college athletics.”

 

Chris Plonsky

A long shot, sure, but Texas would be foolish not to consider current Longhorn women’s athletic director Chris Plonsky as a possible replacement for Dodds.

Plonsky has been an athletic director at Texas since 2001, and has seen her programs win a combined 40 Big 12 championships and three national championships in that time. She also played a major role in bringing the Longhorn Network to the 40 Acres.

While some might question her ability to handle the men’s side of the operation, Plonsky’s experience and success as a Longhorn administrator makes her as good a candidate as any.

West Virginia wide receiver Tavon Austin catches a touchdown pass during a game against Maryland in Morgantown, W. Va. Sept. 22. West Virginia won 31-21.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

This weekend’s game will be a tale of two offenses. With spurts of poor defensive production out of both West Virginia and Texas this season, this Saturday is likely to feature a stereotypical Big 12 shootout. Both Texas and West Virginia are tied for first in the Big 12 with one win apiece. Both teams also are undefeated with four wins on the season. The game against Texas will mark West Virginia’s first true road test of the season.

“They are good on all three sides of the ball,” head coach Dana Holgorsen said of Texas. “On all three sides of the ball, it is going to be a chore. When you couple that with being on the road for the first time this year, we obviously have our work cut out for us.”
   
The Mountaineers roll into Austin with one of the league’s top-ranked offenses, thanks in whole to the efforts of senior quarterback Geno Smith. Against Baylor, Smith put up Heisman quality numbers which included nearly 700 passing yards and an 88.2 percent completion rate. Last weekend’s contest was not an anomaly; Smith has completed 83.4 percent of his passes on the season and has yet to turn the ball over to the opposition.

By comparison, Texas quarterback David Ash has been producing healthy numbers as well. Ash has a season completion percentage of 78 percent with 10 touchdowns and one interception.

Smith’s favorite targets include junior Stedman Bailey and senior Tavon Austin, who have each caught for over 550 yards this season. Both were a huge factor against Baylor last weekend.

The Mountaineers’ impressive showing was against a Baylor defense that is ranked dead-last in the conference in most defensive categories including pass defense, scoring defense and total defense. Despite this defensive ineptitude, West Virginia has still earned double-digit victories in their previous three games.
   
West Virginia is a even a little shakier on defense than the Bears. The Mountaineer defense allowed 63 points against Baylor and continually blew coverage and failed to stop any member of the Baylor offense. By comparison, the Texas defense allowed the top ranked Oklahoma State offense just 36 points. Plus, the Texas defense is ranked highly in pass defense, which aligns well with West Virginia who ranks first in the nation when passing the ball.
   
“We have to get them better,” Holgorsen said of his defensive unit. “The front seven played well ... they were disruptive at times when they were rushing the passer. We need a little bit more out of the defensive line when it comes to pressuring the quarterback. We gave up too many big plays on third down.”
   
The WVU defense is ranked second to last in all defensive categories. At Texas, despite a hoard of missed tackles and the inability to stop big plays, the defense has turned in better stats than West Virginia’s. The Longhorns also have had better play when backed up in the red zone. The game should come down to offense and which team can overcome the opposition’s defense more effectively.
   
“We play hard every week and go out there and compete. No matter who we are playing,” junior offensive lineman Pat Eger said.

Printed on Friday, October 5, 2012 as: Mountaineers set focus on tightening up defense

It’s not every day a quarterback passes for almost half a mile, guiding his offense to more than 807 total yards. However, if the feat were going to be accomplished, West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen’s air-it-out offense would be the likely gateway. Last Saturday, Geno Smith, West Virginia quarterback and Heisman frontrunner, burned Baylor for 656 passing yards, and 8 touchdowns, en route to a 70-63 victory. 

Even though the Big 12 is known for spread-style offenses, Holgorsen was well aware of his team’s feat last weekend.

“Not every Big 12 game is like this,” Holgorsen said following the game.

And he would know best after stints at Oklahoma State and Texas Tech as offensive coordinator.

With West Virginia heading to Austin Saturday, let’s take a look at how Texas has fared against Holgorsen-coached offenses.

In 2005 Holgorsen’s first season with offensive coordinator duties at Texas Tech, the No. 10 Red Raiders visited Austin only to be dealt a 52-17 loss. Tech quarterback Cody

Hodges was coming off a 643-yard performance the week before but only managed 369 yards against the Longhorns’ defense. Overall the Red Raiders eked out 468 total yards, averaging 5.8 yards per pass.

The next year, Texas headed to Lubbock and struggled with a 21-point deficit in the first half. While Texas eventually rallied back to win the game 35-31, the game was deemed more of an escape. The Red Raiders, behind sophomore quarterback Graham Harrell, put up 518 yards of offense, 519 through the air and -1 via the ground. Harrell threw all three of his touchdowns in the first half as the Texas defense gave up 10 plays of 16 yards or longer all before the half.

“Everything he did was right. The right throw, the right receiver, the right route,” former cornerback Aaron Ross said. It goes to show how disciplined a Holgorsen-coached quarterback is.

In 2007 the Red Raiders came back to Austin and, in Holgorsen fashion, tallied 476 total yards, 466 of them through the air. Harrell sought revenge from the previous year throwing five touchdowns but ultimately came up short, as Tech lost 59-43 behind the Longhorns’ 551 total yards of offense.

Texas had a two-year breather from Holgorsen when the coach headed to Houston for the 2008 and 2009 seasons. However, the offensive mastermind re-emerged at Oklahoma State in 2010 as the offensive coordinator. The No. 10 Cowboys visited the 40 Acres and dropped 532 yards of offense on the Longhorns’ defense en route to a 33-16 victory.

Behind junior quarterback Brandon Weeden’s 409 passing yards, the Cowboys snapped a 12-year losing streak to the Longhorns.

Holgorsen-coached offenses average 499 yards against Texas, 441 of those yards through the air. However, the Longhorns have always held their own, averaging 459 yards through those four games, and have an overall 4-1 record against the offensive guru.

While the Longhorns have found success against Holgorsen-mentored teams, the Mountaineers squad visiting Austin Saturday is arguably his best ever. Behind Smith, the school’s all-time passing yardage, touchdown passes and completions leader, West Virginia is averaging 442 yards through the air, with help from arguably the nation’s two best receivers, Stedman Bailey and Tavon Austin, who have 17 touchdowns and 1,195 yards between each of them.

If the Longhorns’ defense isn’t ready for a track meet Saturday, Holgorsen and company will fly out of Austin with another victory.

Printed on Wednesday, October 3, 2012 as: Holgorsen's offenses test Texas

West Virginia rolls into Dallas

West Virginia went first at Day 2 of the Media Days, with head coach Dana Holgorsen taking the podium at the Westin Galleria in Dallas.


In their first year under Holgorsen, the Mountaineers finished 17th in total yardage and tied for 15th in scrimmage yards, while quarterback Geno Smith -- the preseason Big 12 Player of the Year -- threw the fourth-most passing touchdowns in football.


Holgorsen, a former offensive coordinator at Texas Tech, Houston and Oklahoma State, has the type of quick-moving, high-flying offense that has given Big 12 defenses in the past.


Along the way, he's learned a little bit from each of the head coaches he served under, but absorbed quite a bit from Kevin Sumlin (now Texas A&M coach, former Houston coach) and his organizational skills.


"[Sumlin] had a CEO-type approach to all aspects of coaching," Holgorsen said.