West Virginia coach isn't letting guard down

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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- West Virginia's long losing streak ended on a cold afternoon in Iowa last week.

Any rosy memories of the win will need to be gone if the team is to avoid a letdown against 1-10 Kansas to close the regular season Saturday, said coach Dana Holgorsen.

A win would give the Mountaineers a 7-5 record for the regular season, but a loss would mean a .500 season at 6-6.

"There is a big difference in 7-5 and 6-6 in our minds," Holgorsen said at his weekly news conference Tuesday. "We will work our tail off to get as prepared as we can. If we just relax and feel good about it, then we will probably get beat this week. That is the nature of college football.

"The one thing I told the guys in the locker room after the game is that they don't need to feel that they accomplished anything else other than a win."

The team was dismissed for the weekend after returning from Ames, Iowa, late Friday and did not get together again until practice Tuesday.

"We got them away from it a couple of days. We have been at this for pretty much every day for three or four months," Holgorsen said. "They need to come back here ready and eager to go."

Tuesday's practice started with immediate talk about Kansas, a team quarterback Geno Smith said is "starving" for a win.

"I don't know if it makes them more or less dangerous, but they are dangerous. Every game they've played this year they've been pretty competitive," he said.

"If our guys have learned anything this year, it is you better be ready to play," Holgorsen said.

"All of the opponents in the Big 12 can win on any given day. Kansas is no different. They are a couple points away from having three Big 12 wins this season. We have to play hard."

Will Bailey go pro?

Logic would reason that junior receiver Stedman Bailey will declare for the NFL draft when the season is over.

Bailey, a junior from Miami, is ranked No. 3 in Division I-A in receiving yards per game (122), No. 5 in receptions per game (8.64) and No. 3 in individual scoring (11.45 points per game).

He had a class conflict and was not available to the media Tuesday.

Holgorsen said the team will fill out paperwork for all seniors and juniors who hope to declare for the draft, see what their projected draft status is, then sit down and talk.

"I haven't talked to anybody at this point," Holgorsen said.

Injury update

Cornerback Ishmael Banks will miss the Kansas game with an injury, but may be ready to go by the bowl game, according to Holgorsen. Offensive lineman Curtis Feight and defensive back Brodrick Jenkins were scheduled to practice, but their status for Saturday is unclear still.

Senior day Saturday

About 22 players will be honored for senior day Saturday before the Kansas game, including notable players such as Smith, receiver Tavon Austin, running back Shawne Alston and center Joe Madsen.

"It's been a good run," Madsen said. "Feels like yesterday I was [out there] not knowing what I'm doing, scared to death."

Last season, the final home game for seniors was against Pitt in the Backyard Brawl.

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Jenn Menendez: jmenendez@post-gazette.com and Twitter @JennMenendez.


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