MORGANTOWN - With continuing position battles and the first week of classes taking priority, first-year West Virginia University head football coach Dana Holgorsen has had little, if any, time to think about the Mountaineers' season-opener against instate rival Marshall University in the annual Friends of Coal Bowl.
"I don't have any impression on them (Marshall) so far," explained Holgorsen. "We've started to get some of the looks in practice, but we haven't talked about it (the Marshall game) at all."
No. 24 WVU will take on the unranked Thundering Herd at 3:30 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 4.
West Virginia head football coach Dana Holgorsen, left, watches his team run drills during practice in Morgantown.
"We will start sprinkling in looks for familiarity, but as far as nailing the actual game plan, we won't do that until Sunday," continued the former-Oklahoma State offensive coordinator.
What has taken the lion's share of time from the first year coach are the continuing position battles the team is experiencing at mulitple positions-especially at both running back slots, right tackle and linebacker.
"The right tackle spot is something that we have talked about a bunch," explained the coach. "(Pat) Eger is still ahead of (Quinton) Spain. The rest of the guys (second teamers) are just backups. We would like them to push the first teamers a little more, but they are what they are."
The battle at the "A" and "B" running back slots is even more intense as freshmen Andrew Buie, Dustin Garrison and Vernard Roberts as well as sophomore Trey Johnson continue to impress the coaching staff at different times while Parkersburg's Matt Lindamood is locked in a three-way battle with Ryan Clarke and Ricky Kovatch for the starting fullback job.
"I have never been anywhere that seven running backs are going to play," said the coach. "It is our job to continue to narrow down when we are going to play certain guys and how much we keep them in there."
But, that decision may not make itself apparent until the Mountaineers play their first couple of games.
"Someone has to run out there first," added Holgorsen. "Whoever the quote/unquote starter is going to be will mean more to that guy than it does to us. We know that they are all going to play. Throughout the course of the game, we will decide who to put in there the most."
That won't be a problem at receiver as junior Tavon Austin and sophomore Stedman Bailey have solidified their positions as the team's top two pass catchers entering the Marshall contest while battles continue to exist between Ryan Nehlen and Ivan McCartney as well as Tyler Urban and Wake Forest transfer Devon Brown.
Defensively, senior Casey Vance continues to hold a slim lead over junior college transfer Josh Francis at one of the linebacker slots, but that could change as Francis improves his knowledge of the 3-3-5 alignment and its schemes.
"Casey (Vance) has been playing OK," said the coach. "When you have a guy like Josh (Francis) behind him, who is more talented, but if he isn't going in the right direction, we have to play the other guy."
Making it more difficult this past week has been the beginning of classes.