Holgorsen holding his praise despite offense's big numbers
West Virginia Notebook
October 12, 2011 4:00 AM
Chris Jackson/Associated Press
West Virginia wide receiver Stedman Bailey, looking for yardage after a short catch against Connecticut, has four consecutive 100-yard receiving games.
By Jenn Menendez Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- No. 13 West Virginia has put up gaudy offensive numbers six games into the season.
As the team enters an off week, it will focus on not losing its timing on offense and stopping the run on defense, said coach Dana Holgorsen.
"You can lose it real quick. If you take a couple weeks off you're back where you started. It's the realities of throwing the ball. Maintaining how fast you win your routes," he said. "Offensive football from a timing standpoint is critical. Our goal is to not lose it this week."
West Virginia (5-1, 1-0 Big East) leads the Big East in passing offense with 380.5 yards per game, and ranks No. 4 in Division I-A in pass offense, No. 11 in total offense and No. 12 in scoring offense.
Game: West Virginia (5-1, 1-0 Big East) at Syracuse (4-2, 0-1), 8 p.m., Oct. 21.
Where: Carrier Dome, Syracuse, N.Y.
TV: ESPN or ESPN2.
But Holgorsen said Saturday's 43-16 win against Connecticut showed there is still a long way to go.
"I don't think we're very good right now, to be honest with you. We did enough offensively last week, but we weren't very good. You can take it for what it's worth, but that's where we are."
Despite what Holgorsen believes about the offense, the Mountaineers players are putting up some impressive numbers.
Receiver Stedman Bailey, for example, has a streak of four consecutive 100-plus yard performances.
But receivers coach Shannon Dawson pointed out that those statistics might be misleading. He noted that in Holgorsen's offense there often are 60-plus passes per game, which contributes to the big numbers.
"This might sound bad, but I'm going to say it anyway. Our receivers are probably reading articles and things that make them feel they're doing an extraordinary job," Dawson said. "The bottom line is our receivers, everywhere we've been, everywhere we've put this system in, have put up great numbers. To be honest we're doing about average."
Dawson said the receivers are doing a lot of things wrong and the Connecticut game might have been their worst performance to date when it came to blocking and execution.
"We dropped eight balls, fumbled the ball once," he said. "All that stuff is not acceptable."
Quarterback Geno Smith, who has 2,159 yards passing this season, is already close to surpassing his total from last season.
But even he has significant areas for improvements, said Holgorsen.
"He's a great player and will get better and better. Right now you're not looking at a finished product."
The Mountaineers have improved on defense, but still have the third-worst run defense in the Big East, allowing 119.8 rushing yards per game.
"First off we want to have a better run stopping defense," defensive tackle Julian Miller said. "Up until this last week we were getting killed by the run."
And about that crowd?
A week after calling out the fair-weather fans that didn't show up to the Bowling Green game, Holgorsen said Tuesday he thought the atmosphere for the Connecticut game was great.
"It was a great environment. It's what we're after," he said. "The kids hit the field and there was lots of excitement. It looked like everyone was having a heck of a time out there tailgating, enjoying the weather, a good product on the field. It was an exciting atmosphere and exciting environment. I know the 12 recruits we had in town had a heck of a time. It all ties in."
On the trail
The off week also gives the team a chance to rest and let coaches get out on the recruiting trail.
"This one week, we've designated as our off week, and we'll send all 10 coaches out, me included," he said. "That's an NCAA compliance thing. Everyone goes and hits his area.
"When it gets into the contact time, which is December and January, that's when the philosophy changes a little. You've got to narrow down toward position guys and that sort of thing."