MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Nowadays the offense features three receivers, not four, and the tight end actually warrants a roster spot. Aside from that, Tyron Carrier contends coaching Dana Holgorsen’s offense in 2016 isn’t much different than playing in it in 2009.
Four days into his first full-time coaching job, Carrier is getting to know West Virginia’s receivers and reacquainting with the straight-shooting coach who helped him excel at Houston.
“Dana’s still honest and straightforward, and I liked that a lot as a player,” Carrier said. “You didn’t have to wonder how he felt or wonder what he believed in you. It was out there.
“So I try to be straightforward with my guys. Brutally honest is what I call it.”
Carrier caught 320 passes from 2008-2011 at Houston—the fifth-most in FBS history—and 171 of those came during his first two seasons, when Holgorsen was the Cougars’ offensive coordinator.
At 28, Carrier is just two seasons removed from playing in the CFL, making it tempting to show off his athletic prime to the receivers he’s mentoring.
“I try not to, but they were a little shocked today when I did a coupe drills with them,” he said. “They said ‘Coach you’ve still got it.’ Yeah I’ve still got it a little bit.”
He quickly noticed that some of his West Virginia receivers have “it” also.
“A couple of them have got that twitch that I had,” he said. “The first step, being able to pick up speed really fast. Running full-speed, then throwing on the brakes and cutting in the opposite direction.”
“A couple of them have got that twitch that I had. The first step, being able to pick up speed really fast. Running full-speed, then throwing on the brakes and cutting in the opposite direction.”
— Tyron Carrier on WVU receivers
Carrier’s lack of coaching credentials—he spent one season as a graduate assistant at Baylor—pops in contrast to Lonnie Galloway, the 21-year veteran he’s replacing. Holgorsen mentioned Saturday “we had a lot of interest in this job,” amid buzz that his own tenuous job status diminished the pool of candidates willing to join West Virginia’s staff.
“The one thing that didn’t make sense to me was bringing a guy in who didn’t have familiarity with what we’re doing,” Holgorsen said. “He can teach them a lot of nuances as far as the technique aspect of things. He’s going to bring some knowledge from playing experience that is very valuable.”
Offensive coordinator Joe Wickline, hired by West Virginia in January, called Carrier “a future star” whose feel for route adjustments will help receivers.
“He wouldn’t be here if he wasn’t a good fit,” Wickline said. “We all trust Coach Holgorsen, because over the years he has hired great people.”
Said Carrier: “Dana knows what I know, because he taught me.”
Carrier also brings a reputation as one of the NCAA’s all-time most dangerous returners, a point of special-teams chagrin at West Virginia in recent seasons.
Galloway made recruiting inroads in Washington D.C., Virginia and Maryland, a region Holgorsen says the staff will begin “hitting by committee.” More shuffling means new cornerbacks coach Blue Adams will recruit Georgia, and defense line coach Bruce Tall—who spent two seasons at UNC-Charlotte—will supplant Galloway in North Carolina.
That leaves Carrier to focus on recruiting his talent-rich hometown.
“It would be silly not to have Coach Carrier in Houston, seeing as how he grew up there,” Holgorsen said. “He’s got a lot of resources there, and he’s got a lot of familiarity with high school coaches, and a lot of relationships based on his past. So we’ll probably get into Houston a little bit.”