Dana Holgorsen’s first weekly press conference was a master’s class in dealing with the media. Fans and media alike rightfully thought that Major Applewhite was too buttoned-up and didn’t let much information flow. On the flip side, most think that Dana is open with information and is a great interview.
But is he?
To be clear, Dana is refreshing. I love listening to him speak and I appreciate the way he comes across. But he doesn’t actually give any information away. We’ve been lulled by surly coaches that make it apparent that they’d rather be anywhere else instead of answering lackluster questions.
Dana also would rather be anywhere else but he couches it with folksy charm and a good soundbite or two.
Perhaps the biggest piece of ‘news’ was the info that UH had 105 healthy bodies for last night’s mock game – well more than the 70 that will travel to Norman on Saturday.
He says the team is “probably more healthy right now than any time since I’ve been here.” He also mentioned that there haven’t been any season-ending injuries in camp, noting that it’s “probably the first camp that I’ve been through where we didn’t lose anybody longterm.”
In this first Monday presser, Dana answered questions for just 11 minutes and never even mentioned a UH player’s name except for Javian Smith. Smith is out for the year with an injury.
But he gets the soundbite in. Tonight, the media will be running with the 30 seconds he did on depth charts. When asked about OU not releasing a depth chart and UH responding in kind, Dana gives ’em what they want:
“I’ve always released a depth chart,” Holgorsen said. “And I’ll release one. Why they don’t put one out is kinda silly to me. So if they ain’t putting one out, I ain’t putting one out.”
He’s a master.
And to be clear: I’m not complaining. If I were the head coach, especially before the season begins, I wouldn’t give anything away. And it’s not like he dodges questions – he just doesn’t say anything terribly specific. A head coach once told me that screwing with the media by giving non-answers was one of his favorite parts of the job.
Here are some thoughts on other topics covered:
Reading between the lines, Dana doesn’t love the 2019 schedule. At one point he referenced the Cincinnati game on October 12th as “Finally! A relevant home game.”
Earlier, he talked about scheduling “big” games:
“Chris (Pezman) in the back is scheduling just all kinds of high profile games,” Dana said. “I’m like, alright! Enough. Those are fun but let’s make sure that we do the right thing from a scheduling perspective.”
I would expect to see some changes in scheduling going forward to get the Cougars more home games.
Perhaps you’ll see home and homes with Rice, UTSA, and Georgia Southern replaced. And surely no more “neutral and away series” like OU and Washington State.
Dana came back to the topic of OU as a “big” game several times. He played it down and while noting that there are some photos in the football offices and meeting rooms from the 2016 OU win, he said “but there’s some other big victories, too, that’s happened. It’s not just that one. It’s not just that one.”
As you might expect, there are still spots where even the coaches don’t know who the starter will be.
“There’s, honestly, some positions on our team right now that we don’t know who the starter is,” he said. “You can pretty much figure out a depth chart when we put the first team out there.”
Defensive line and cornerback are your best bets.
Dana got most excited talking about changing the practice schedule up starting tomorrow. Game week begins finally begins.
“I’m really looking forward to tomorrow,” he said. “It should be today but it’s tomorrow. Because (the game) is Sunday night. So today’s Sunday in my world. It’s confusing.
“Looking forward to tomorrow being able to introduce an opponent and have a real game week. We’ll prepare just like we do for any opponent.”
An earlier answer gave it context.
“I do know that you get to a point to where you can’t improve until you play,” Coach said. “You get to a point after 15-16 practices where enough’s enough. You gotta switch gears.”