Holgorsen, WVU look to start fast vs. Maryland
Published: Wednesday, September 19, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, September 19, 2012 07:09
Fresh off an impressive victory against FCS foe James Madison over the weekend in the nation’s capital, head coach Dana Holgorsen and the No. 7 West Virginia football team have their eyes set on Maryland.
The Terrapins will bring a 2-1 record to Milan Puskar Stadium Saturday at noon and are looking to pull off the upset, despite being a four-touchdown underdog.
"We have a good, quality team coming to Morgantown on Saturday," Holgorsen said in his weekly press conference. "They’re 2-1, led by their defense. They have a lot of experienced guys on their defense, much like we have on offense. Much like we are on defense, they have a lot of young kids trying to figure out a new scheme (on offense), and they’ll continue to get better."
This will be the first time this season the Mountaineers will only have a week to prepare for an opponent.
"I’m excited about this week and getting into a routine," Holgorsen said. "We had plenty of time to prepare for Marshall and plenty of time to prepare for James Madison, so it’s good to get into a routine that we’re going to be in for the majority of the season."
West Virginia defeated Maryland a year ago in College Park 37-31. The Mountaineers jumped out to an 27-10 halftime advantage but had to hold off a late push by the Terps.
Holgorsen is hoping his team can both start fast and finish strong in the 2012 matchup.
"We started fast against Maryland last year. We hit the field and started fast, and it’ll be something we talk about all this week," he said. "We’ve talked about it the prior two weeks; we’ve done a good job of starting fast. We need to start faster in the second half, and we need to finish people."
Mountaineer senior quarterback Geno Smith threw for nearly 400 yards in the 2011 game and has had two very impressive performances to start this season.
Smith has nine passing touchdowns to just nine incompletions, and has a completion percentage just less than 90 percent.
But his head coach has been impressed with one particular statistic.
"Completion percentage is awesome and throwing touchdowns is awesome. Taking care of the football is more important than those two stats, and he’s perfect on turnovers," Holgorsen said. "He hasn’t thrown an interception. He’s doing a good job of taking care of the ball, and I credit our receivers as well, as far as getting open and making catches."
With Pittsburgh already off the schedule and Marshall set to join them in 2013, one could argue Maryland is the last remaining rival on the Mountaineers’ schedule in future years.
Even though this is only Holgorsen’s second year as head coach, he is already aware of the importance of this matchup.
"This series is one of the few remaining rival games because it is a neighboring state, and we have a history with them. This isn’t the last time we’re going to play; we’re going to continue to play," Holgorsen said. "It’s going to mean a lot to a lot of different people for a lot of different reasons. From a regional standpoint, it’s very important."