MORGANTOWN - Once was the time when Dana Holgorsen was like all young coaches in that he thought he had a better way. He would diagram play after play that showed his creativity and, before long, had so many of them he didn't know what to do with them all.
That was back in the days before he became one of the country's hottest offensive minds. Now that he is in such high demand - so much so that he's now the independently wealthy offensive coordinator and coach in waiting at West Virginia - he needs an 18-wheeler to bring to Morgantown all those plays he designed, right?
Uh, well, no. Actually one notebook will do.
A small one.
"Probably so,'' Holgorsen said recently when asked if it was true that his ultra-successful offense actually has fewer plays than most. "I think we've simplified it the point where we've got a lot of different ways of doing the same thing. Just because there might be one receiver lined up - or two or three or four or five - if we call one play they're all doing the same thing. They have the same responsibilities.
"I think we have enough plays. I mean, I could draw up twice as many more and put in twice as many as we've got. I just don't feel like it's necessary.''
Truth is, one's enough if it scores, right?
"Yeah,'' Holgorsen said. "And if it scores you probably ought to call it again, right?''
The reason Holgorsen has so simplified his offensive playbook is easy. He wants to be able to teach it to 18- to 23-year-old college football players and not confuse them beyond what is necessary. Now that might sound like a slam on the intelligence of 18- to 23-year-old college football players, but it's not. They're generally as smart as any other 18- to 23-year-old college students.
But why make it more difficult than it has to be. The sooner players learn and master the playbook, the sooner they can start making plays. And it's a lot easier to do that if you aren't constantly trying to recall a bunch of complex routes and assignments.