Dana Holgorsen has certainly lived up to his mad scientist reputation this season, pushing West Virginia to sixth nationally in both passing and total offense this season as the Mountaineers are off to a 5-2 start after busting then-No. 4 Baylor for 456 yards and 33 first downs in a 41-27 upset victory.
Holgo joined NFL.com’s College Football 24/7 Podcast this week and was asked where he got his inspiration for some of his wackier ideas.
“Those things typically happen at Happy Hour or at retreats,” Holgorsen said. “That’s the honest truth, too. We had a staff retreat at Oklahoma State, we went to somebody’s little cabin out there in the country and me and Joe Wickline were sitting there talking ball, there’s nothing else to do at these retreats, so we were talking ball and I kind of threw it out there to him, the whole diamond thing, and Joe’s one of the most innovative offensive line creators in college football to this day, he’s since moved on to the University of Texas. We thought about it and we were like, ‘Hey, that’s a pretty good idea.’ So we started dabbling with it in August it was a huge part of why Justin Blackmon caught like 26 touchdown passes that year.”
Many of Holgorsen’s craziest ideas ended up on the cutting room floor, though.
“I’ve had more bad ideas than I’ve had good ideas, I can assure you of that. Usually sometimes I’ll bring something up at staff meetings or retreats or like I said these Happy Hours or just talking ball at conventions and people will look at me like, ‘You’ve just absolutely lost your mind.’ Who knows? If we’d had tried some of those things it might’ve worked out.”
As Holgorsen advances, though, he reins himself in closer to the center of offensive convention. The Mountaineers ran the ball 50 times and threw it 35 times in the Baylor win.
“It forces them to play run in the box more than anything,” he said. “If they don’t get those safeties involved then those four of five yard chunks are going to be 10 or 15 yard chunks. We’ve got a solid offensive line, probably two of the better guards in the country. We’re able to run the ball behind them. If they don’t commit to stoping it then we’re just going to keep running it.”
For the year, West Virginia has run the ball 317 times compared to 295 passes. That 2011 Oklahoma State team Holgorsen referenced earlier called 595 passes compared to 392 runs. Leach’s current Washington State team, by the way, has called an astounding 440 passes against 133 rusn.
“My days of the old Air Raid offense with Hal Mumme, Mike Leach, I don’t know if they would claim me anymore because I’m calling so many run plays, but we’re still throwing for a whole bunch of yards so we’ve found a different ways of doing things.”
To listen to the full thing, click here. Holgo jumps on at about the 26-minute mark, and Mark Helfrich hops on after that.