The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

College Sports

October 2, 2012

WVU ready to venture into the big-time

Texas atmosphere is among the best

They say everything is bigger in Texas. Longhorn football is no exception.

When No. 8 West Virginia (4-0) runs onto the FieldTurf surface of Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium on Saturday, it will be greeted by more than 100,000 fans of the No. 11 Texas Longhorns (4-0) looking to make their visit to the Lonestar State miserable.

That’s more than 40,000 more than watched WVU defeat Baylor in the first Big 12 game for the Mountaineers and close to 5,000 more than the largest crowd to ever watch a WVU football game.

In 1991, the Mountaineers played in front of 96,445 fans at Penn State, but the majority of the players on this year’s team weren’t even born at that time.

Some of the current juniors and seniors played in front of 92,575 at LSU in 2010, but with so many young contributors on this year’s team, Saturday’s contest will be a completely new experience.

It’s not just the numbers that make a home game in Austin special. There’s Bevo, the school’s longhorn steer mascot, “The Eyes of Texas,” the school song, Hook ‘em Horns, the school’s hand signal, and Smokey the Cannon, fired in celebration of every score.

“Probably one of the best environments that exists in college football is in Austin, Texas,” said WVU head coach Dana Holgorsen, who has played against the Longhorns as an assistant at both Texas Tech and Oklahoma State. “I’ve been there five or six times and will be able to lay it out to (our players) a little bit.”

But Holgorsen doesn’t seem worried about how his team will respond.

“The one thing that’s so cool about being at West Virginia is that these kids don’t really care much about that,” he said. “They’ve played in BCS games, they’ve played, over the course of the last three or four years, at LSU and Auburn. They’ve been at some places and been in some big games. Our guys are excited about being a part of that.

“I can assure you they won’t be intimidated. But it will be a huge challenge.”

n n n

Holgorsen especially isn’t worried about his quarterback, Geno Smith, who he said, “isn’t fazed by anything.”

Smith wasn’t intimidated at LSU, nearly leading the Mountaineers to victory, and he more than rose to the occasion in the Orange Bowl against Clemson, leading WVU to a 70-33 victory.

Smith, listed as the frontrunner on most Heisman Trophy lists, is having a record-setting season, but he’s still looking for more.

“He doesn’t take anything for granted,” said Holgorsen. “He’s harder on himself than anybody is. It doesn’t matter if it’s a game or a practice. We give him an iPad, and after practice or after games he goes in and he studies it. He’s just a student of the game. He’d rather do that than a whole lot of other stuff. He’ll probably come in and give us a list of things wrong (against Baylor) before he watches the tape with us. That’s just the way it is.”

Even when there’s not an opponent, Smith is usually still watching tape.

“He came in this summer and got a bunch of NFL tape on his iPad,” the coach remembered. “Aaron Rodgers is a guy he’s studied. Tom Brady he studied. Drew Brees he studied. If we don’t have an opponent to look at, he’ll look at some NFL guys to see if he can pick some things up.”

But Holgorsen was quick to point out that Smith’s success is about much more than his own talent.

“There’s a lot of reasons why things are working the way they are,” he said. “In addition to those guys, the o-line is playing tremendous. Joey Madsen probably had his best game since he’s been here, and he’s going on being a four-year starter. (Jeff) Braun and (Josh) Jenkins are going to be four-year starters. We have some pretty good experience up front.

“We’re doing a good job on third downs,” Holgorsen continued. “We’re leading the country at over 60 percent on third-down efficiency — Texas is right behind us at 58 percent, by the way. I think the key to that is manageable third downs. We were a lot better on third downs (against Baylor) than we were (against Maryland), because (against the Terrapins), we got ourselves behind the chains a lot. Converting third-and-3 or third-and-4 is a whole heck of a lot easier than converting third-and-12.”

— E-mail: chuffman@

register-herald.com

1
Text Only
College Sports
  • Miners stop Lorain County 5-1

    The West Virginia Miners received a strong outing from starting pitcher Patrick LaGanke, and scored one run in each of the final five innings to defeat the Lorain County Ironmen 5-1 Thursday.

    July 25, 2014

  • Some topics of interest to area fans

    Tom Hart, a widely known retired Morgantown High School administrator and coach, continues to excel as one of the nation’s top bowlers

    July 25, 2014

  • 072514 WVU Replacing Sims a challenge for WVU

    Every year, almost every college football preview publication available lists one key statistic that most use to evaluate the prospects for any given football team — returning starters.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • WVU’s Worley clear starter at cornerback

    There were few bright spots in West Virginia University’s 4-8 football campaign last year, and even fewer on the defensive side of the football, where the Mountaineers gave up more than 455 yards and 33 points per game.

    July 24, 2014

  • Holgorsen to appear on ESPN special

    West Virginia University football coach Dana Holgorsen will appear Wednesday on ESPN’s annual mid-summer college football coaches’ “car wash” — in which guests appear across multiple programs and platforms over one day.

    July 23, 2014

  • Holgorsen: WVU getting comfortable in new league

    Dana Holgorsen remembers the glory days of West Virginia University football — the ones that included conference championships and BCS bowl wins. In fact, he was part of one of those, leading the Mountaineers to a Big East championship and an Orange Bowl victory in his first season as head coach in 2011.

    July 23, 2014

  • 072314 miners Miners take series with Paints

    The way the West Virginia Miners see it, they don’t have the luxury of planning for tomorrow.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • WVU's Fleming signs with Yankees

    Second baseman Billy Fleming of the West Virginia University baseball team has signed a professional contract with the New York Yankees, foregoing his upcoming senior season.

    July 22, 2014

  • WVU to kickoff 2018 season against Tennessee in Charlotte

    The Charlotte Sports Foundation (CSF) announced Tuesday morning that it has secured a regular season college football game for the city of Charlotte pitting the University of Tennessee against West Virginia University.

    July 22, 2014

  • Can summit of bigwigs really solve college athletics issues?

    I see where the Big 12 Conference is going to host in New York City what will be titled “A State of College Athletics Forum.”

    July 22, 2014

Saints Training Camp