West Virginia football: WVU redemption efforts in full swing
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Dana Holgorsen said he felt a sense of urgency from his players during the last week as West Virginia went back to basics.
Two consecutive blowout losses preceded the team's off-week, sending them tumbling down the national polls while exposing problems on both sides of the ball.
"The attention to detail tends to pick up when you get beat," said Holgorsen on Monday's Big 12 coaches call with media. "We focused hard on fundamentals, had a lot of individual time. Kept our timing on offense. Worked on lining up properly and finishing plays on defense.
"We did it for three straight days. Got to practice all our young guys a lot. Did a good job of practicing those guys hard. [Then we] got away for a few days, got out recruiting and got everybody back here [Sunday] and had a good night of practice."
West Virginia will return to the field Saturday to play fellow Big 12 newcomer TCU (5-3, 2-3) at 3 p.m. at home on Fox.
Players were given Friday and Saturday off. Some left town, but all returned Sunday in time for practice and to begin preparing for the Horned Frogs.
"We just worried about ourselves last week. Thought we had a good week," said Holgorsen. "We got out there, it turns out [we're] glad we did it, went recruiting [last] Monday and then lined up and tried to get better for three days. And [Sunday] we had a great day of introducing TCU."
Holgorsen said quarterback Geno Smith is back on track after shouldering much of the blame for the two losses.
"He's ready to go," said Holgorsen. "We got him back on track last week, just worrying about what he can worry about, learning to control what he can control. He was probably a little bit too hard on himself. He wasn't the reason we lost two games.
"There was a collection of reasons we lost two games and lost to two good football teams. Just because we dropped the last two doesn't mean we're a bad football team."
He said the focus tends to land on Smith because he is the quarterback, but that many players on his side of the ball needed the week to get back to basics.
"[We're] trying to get everyone around him better. So much is made of Geno, just because he's kind of the leader of our team, but still, he's just one part of our team," said Holgorsen.
Hurricane Sandy may preclude the team from some outdoor practice time this week, according to Holgorsen. But so far, he said, there is no contingency plan for Saturday's game against TCU because he expects the storm to move away from Morgantown by Friday.
"We're monitoring the hurricane. It should be out of here by Friday," he said. "We'll be prepared to play. Whether it affects some of our outside work? That's going to be day to day. As far as everything I've been hearing, it's supposed to get blown out of here and be fine for Friday and Saturday."
Several players are from the New Jersey and Maryland areas, where the storm is expected to hit hardest.
"We got a lot of kids from that area," he said. "We're monitoring their families to make sure everything is fine. Our thoughts and prayers are with that part of the country, no doubt."
Holgorsen said he and his staff spent a significant amount of time over the weekend recruiting junior college players, who might be more prepared than high school recruits to help the team next year, particularly on the defensive side of the ball.
"I think we need some junior college help," he said.
First Published October 30, 2012 12:00 am