Holgorsen up for the challenge
Published: Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, September 21, 2011 00:09
West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen has been a part of many big football games throughout his tenure as an offensive coordinator.
When the No. 2 LSU Tigers face the No. 16 West Virginia Mountaineers Saturday night, it will mark the biggest game of Holgorsen's brief head coaching career.
"To say it's not going to be a challenge would be crazy," Holgorsen said.
From a schematic perspective, there are few similarities between the non-conference opponents.
"Our offense is 100 percent different from their offense, and our defense is 100 percent different than their defense," Holgorsen said. "All around, we're a different football team."
The Tigers feature an intimidating defense. The LSU defense holds their opponents to only 12 points per game and is third nationally in tackles for loss.
"It's not the trickiest thing in the world to figure out what they're doing (defensively)," he said. "But, it's a group that's made up of very talented individuals."
The West Virginia offense showed glimpses of success against Maryland last weekend – particularly in the first half.
Junior quarterback Geno Smith and the offense had a much faster tempo compared to the first two games of the season. But, the LSU defense has already shown success against an up-tempo attack this season.
"When you start having success, it is easier to get in a rhythm," Holgorsen said. "Watching them against Oregon, they handled its tempo just fine."
The biggest strength of the LSU defense may be their ability to substitute frequently and efficiently.
"One thing that is concerning when watching defense is that they don't play just 11 people," Holgorsen said. "They have tremendous depth on both sides of the ball."
Most of the defensive depth for the Tigers is found on their defensive line. It's not uncommon for the unit to shuffle up to eight players on the line throughout the game. This could create a disadvantage for the Mountaineer offensive line.
"We've played six offensive linemen in three games," Holgorsen said. "We don't have the luxury of having the depth right now. Those guys will just have to suck it up and play."
The LSU defense makes few mistakes. Holgorsen believes the key is taking advantage of the them when they occur.
"They're just good at what they do," Holgorsen said. "It doesn't matter if it's a man or zone situation, they have the ability to do all that stuff well."
The Tigers' quarterback Jarrett Lee has shown success early in the season. Coincidentally, Holgorsen and Lee crossed paths when Holgorsen coached in Texas.
"I've known him for a long time," Holgorsen said. "We want him to have a really bad game against us, but with me knowing his family it's good to see him out there."
Lee has weapons all across the board offensively. Multiple wide receivers and running backs have the ability to make plays in the space. But, Dana Holgorsen is keeping things simple.
"The good news is there is only one ball, so that ball can only go to one of them," he said. "Our job is to figure out which one it's going to and stop it."