Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

College Sports

August 2, 2012

Expectations high as WVU opens camp

MORGANTOWN — Expectations are as high as they have ever been as West Virginia began preparations for their first season in the Big 12 Conference on Thursday afternoon.

The Mountaineers, coming off a 10-3 record, a win in the Orange Bowl and a share of the Big East championship, practiced for the first time in preparation for the season opener on Sept. 1 against Marshall.

Perhaps never has there been as much anticipation for a season as there is for this one. No wonder, after the Mountaineers destroyed Clemson 70-33 in the Orange Bowl, and left the ailing Big East for the highly-powered Big 12.

“We addressed expectations, and we told them we’re going to handle expectations like we did last year going into the Clemson game,” said West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen, in a press release. “We didn’t care what you guys wrote or what the media was saying on TV. It’s the same thing now, expectations are high which we like, but we’re not going to pay attention to it.

“How you handle expectations is you just do your job. We talked to them about focusing hard on making themselves better on all three sides of the ball.”

West Virginia was ranked 11th in the USA Today coaches poll that was released on Thursday. Only Oklahoma, at 4th, was higher among Big 12 schools. Six teams from the Mountaineers’ new home were selected among the top 21.

“It’s important to be in the Top 20. The Top 20 teams get more recognition, so it’s good to be there. We’re happy about being there,” Holgorsen said. “Are we going to throw a party about it? Probably not.

Are we going to talk about it? Probably not. It’s an honor to be there, and it’s good for program and its good publicity, but it’s not going to change anything we do. We’re not going to talk about it, and we’re not going to change what routine is or how we practice.”

Holgorsen is in his second season as head coach at West Virginia, and expects the preparation to be somewhat easier as one year at the helm.

“It should be a little easier. We’re still going to do the same thing. We’re still going to watch what’s going on and then make corrections,” Holgorsen said. “There are guys out there who are seniors who have played a lot of football, but we’re still going to correct things from a technique standpoint.

“That never goes away, whether it’s teaching them what to do or getting them fundamentally better, or technique a little better.”

While the offense is expected to be explosive, the 3-3-5 stack defensive scheme will be changed to a 3-4 under defensive coordinator Joe DeForest. It could be that unit that could ultimately decide the success for the Mountaineers in a league that scores points in bunches.

“The schemes we put in place defensively and special teams wise are much like it is for us offensively,” Holgorsen said. “It’s not that hard to pick up. I’m not saying it’s easy, but it’s easy to pick up.

“The reason is because the conference we’re going to is going to require us to play more people. It’s going to require us to play more people on defense and special teams. What you mean by more people is getting the freshmen involved. It’s going to be a work in progress that’s no question.”

Up first on the slate is Marshall, the last of a seven-game contract with the Thundering Herd. Of course, the Mountaineers aren’t worried too much about them just yet.

Holgorsen wants his Mountaineers to continue to get better, especially this early in the process.

“That’s the goal, that’s why we don’t talk about games,” Holgorsen said. “We just want to get better. Once we get closer to the game we’ll worry about the game.”

—Contact Brian Woodson

at bwoodson@bdtonline.com

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