Texas Tech safety D.J. Johnson, right, breaks up a pass intended for Iowa State's Ernst Brun Jr., allowing teammate Cornelius Douglas, left, to move in for the interception in a game earlier this season. Texas Tech is No. 1 in NCAA Division I-A in pass defense and No. 2 overall.
By Craig Meyer Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
"Trap game" is a generally accepted euphemism in sports used to describe a dangerous matchup against an overlooked foe, with a favored team looking ahead to a tougher opponent or basking in the glow of a big win.
Despite having spent the past 20 years as a college football coach, it's a phrase with which Dana Holgorsen is not familiar.
With his team slated to go on the road against Texas Tech days removed from a win over then-No. 11 Texas and a little more than a week before a game against No. 6 Kansas State, the West Virginia coach reiterated his desire for his team to treat every game the same way, regardless of how it may be dubbed.
"I don't understand what a 'trap game' means -- you play the same every week," Holgorsen said Tuesday at his weekly news conference.
"If you don't have the ability to understand that every week is the same and that we've got to be able to trust our coaches and players and everybody that's involved to be able to do the same thing every week, we get beat, whether it's a 'trap game' or a 'big game.'
Game: No. 5 West Virginia (5-0) at Texas Tech (4-1), Lubbock, Texas.
When: 3:30 p.m. Saturday.
TV, radio: WTAE.
The skinny: Pitt has a four-game winning streak against the Cardinals.
"It's a game -- all it is is a game."
While the Mountaineers' game against Texas Tech (4-1) appears to lack the flair of upcoming contests against ranked teams such as Kansas State or No. 13 Oklahoma, the Red Raiders could present another sort of challenge to West Virginia.
Texas Tech has the top-ranked pass defense in Division I-A.
In their first five games, the highest-ranked pass defense that quarterback Geno Smith and the Mountaineers offense faced was Maryland's seventh-ranked unit, which held West Virginia to a season-low 31 points.
Another concern is a purely logistical one.
After traveling about 1,400 miles each way to take on Texas, the Mountaineers arrived back home early Sunday morning, only to have to turn back around this week for about a 1,470-mile trip to Lubbock, Texas.
Despite the distances that separate West Virginia from its Big 12 compatriots, Holgorsen insists that from a time standpoint, these trips don't differ much from the bus rides to Cincinnati and flights to South Florida that his team had in the Big East.
"We're on the plane for probably an extra hour, so the routine is no different," said Holgorsen, a former Texas Tech offensive coordinator. "I don't view it as a big deal. We had no glitches. It was maybe an hour longer -- how's that a big deal?"
For a West Virginia offense that needs talented runners to take some of the pressure off the team's vaunted passing attack, Andrew Buie's 207-yard performance against Texas was a revelation, made possible by a deep thigh bruise that sidelined starter Shawne Alston.
Holgorsen said that Alston, who has 185 yards and three touchdowns in two games this season, has been getting treatments for his injury and was being evaluated again Tuesday.
"We'll see what he looks like up there today," Holgorsen said.
Coach scolds fans
If the Mountaineer is the official mascot of West Virginia and its football team, then the image of a burning couch may be the symbol of the overzealous faction of the team's devout fan base.
Five people were charged with malicious burning and 10 others were charged with assorted other crimes last weekend after the 48-45 win against Texas.
Though he didn't hear about the incidents until Monday, Holgorsen seemed befuddled by why fans would act that way, especially when he anticipates the Texas game being one victory in what he hopes will be a special season.
"If it had anything to do with some sort of a special win," Holgorsen said, "I would encourage everybody involved to get used to wins like that."