West Virginia offense ready to handle high expectations after explosive 2011 season
Published: Tuesday, March 20, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, March 20, 2012 23:03
It seems like only yesterday that the West Virginia football team was celebrating its Orange Bowl victory.
But with the record-setting performances and the bulk of the offense returning, expectations have never been higher for the Mountaineer offense.
They don’t mind that, though.
"It doesn’t matter where we come in at in the rankings, we have to go out, and there’s still an opponent and there’s still a defense we have to go up against. It’s all the same," said senior running back Shawne Alston.
"People may have a certain perception of us, but when we get on the field, we’ll change that."
After such a successful season in just the first year in head coach Dana Holgorsen’s offense, West Virginia has the confidence that it will be able to meet – and maybe even exceed – those expectations.
"We have a great sense of confidence. We’re not arrogant, but we have confidence, because we know what we’re capable of," Alston said. "When the season comes around, we’re just going to showcase our talents, and we’re going to do great things."
They’re handling the heavy burden that comes with expectations well.
Unlike most teams, the Mountaineers aren’t allowing all the talk surrounding what they’re capable of doing get to their heads. It’s making them hungrier.
"The confidence is high around here, but I also think it’s in a good way. It’s not us believing that we’re unbeatable," said senior quarterback Geno Smith. "We all know that we put up 70 points against Clemson, but we put up 10 against South Florida. We have to maintain a level head and understand that we are capable of doing good things, but it takes hard work."
This year, the pressure is on this West Virginia team, especially considering the fact that it will be starting play in the Big 12 Conference.
"We raised our standards and just try to compete each day when we’re out there and try to take advantage of our opportunities," said redshirt junior wide receiver Stedman Bailey. "We know we’re going into this new conference, and it’ll be a lot tougher.
"There’s no room to slack off. We’ve been putting in a lot of hard work."
And that hard work starts on the practice field.
Through just five practices this spring, the players can tell a difference. There’s something there this season that just hasn’t been there in the past.
"People are looking forward to coming to practice. Last year, it was like, ‘Man, we’ve got practice today,’" Alston said. "Now, there’s so much energy and everybody is so hyped about it; we just like being around each other now."