MORGANTOWN - Dana Holgorsen is at his current station as Division I head football coach with a multi-million dollar contract pretty much thanks to one unique attribute.
He knows how to coach offensive football as well as just about anyone in the game.
It's what enabled him to rapidly move up through the ranks as an assistant, tweaking the schemes he learned at the feet of Mike Leach and others and putting enough of his own spin on it all that it has become unique. That he has done so in a way that enables him to teach the scheme quickly and easily certainly doesn't hurt, either.
Nowhere on his resume is there anything regarding accomplishments on the defensive side of the ball. In fact, Holgorsen himself will admit that generally speaking he leaves that to the defensive assistants he has hired. Yes, he will supervise and make suggestions, and even at times get involved during practices now that he's a head coach. But for the most part he remains an offensive coach.
That doesn't mean, however, that Holgorsen's mere presence doesn't have an impact defensively. The fact of the matter is, one of the best assets a defensive coach can have around is an innovative offensive coach.
Take Daron Roberts, for example.
"Probably the greatest benefit for me was sitting in the offensive meeting room and listening to the way Dana isolates weaknesses in a defense,'' Roberts said.
Roberts is in his first season as West Virginia's cornerbacks coach. Last season, his first at WVU, he coached receivers on the offense.
Roberts is easily the most inexperienced of West Virginia's coaches, having only been in the game six years. He didn't play college football and wasn't even involved in the game while studying law at Texas and Harvard. He began his coaching career by essentially begging for an unpaid internship in the NFL in 2007.
But since getting his foot in the door, Roberts has studied and coached virtually every aspect of the game. He worked with special teams and defense with the Kansas City Chiefs, got his first real coaching job in the secondary with the Detroit Lions and then came to WVU to coach the receivers and return men. Now he's back in the secondary.
And what he learned by working with Holgorsen on offense last season has proven invaluable.
"Coaching DBs for four years [with the Chiefs and Lions], we always talked about reading the body language of receivers - their foot placement, their burst off the ball, even how fast a receiver runs out of the huddle,'' Roberts said. "We kind of tracked all those things to see if they can give you a lead.