Holgorsen, WVU see benefits in JMU game
Published: Wednesday, September 12, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, September 12, 2012 07:09
In the second week of the 2010 college football season, a confident and talented James Madison team traveled to Blacksburg, Va., and upset in-state rival Virginia Tech in what is now known as a textbook example of what a Football Championship Subdivision school can pull off on any given Saturday against a larger but unsuspecting opponent.
In West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen’s opinion, upsets like James Madison’s over Virginia Tech have become the rule rather than the exception.
"Anytime an FCS team plays an FBS team, you’re going to make reference to that, but it’s becoming more and more apparent, and it’s happening more and more," he said. "Back when Appalachian State beat Michigan, that was the talk of the year, right? Well that’s happening pretty much every week when an FCS team plays an FBS team.
"We’re going to be ready to play, (and) we’re going to be motivated to play."
The Dukes have what Holgorsen sees as a strong balance of talent and fundamentals that should make Saturday’s game just as tough as ones that are slated later in the schedule.
"They do a good job recruiting; they do a good job coaching; they have the best facilities in the FCS – which is going to attract a lot of talent, – (and) they’re in the very talent-rich state of Virginia – and it shows," he said. "They have good players."
"It’s going to be a challenge for us coaches and a challenge for our players to get over there and get better on all three sides of the ball and try to make us better in doing it against a good quality football team."
One of the hallmarks of West Virginia’s explosive offense is the ability of its playmakers to find open space and make defenders miss. Where most teams find trouble making the first tackle against the Mountaineers, the Dukes’ defense may not have as much because of its ability to shed blocks.
"It’s really pretty impressive watching those guys getting to the ball and making tackles. That’s going to be a challenge for us offensively is to sustain blocks," Holgorsen said.
"You talk about yards-after-catch or yards-after-contact, (but) you don’t get those without making tacklers miss or breaking tackles, so I think that’s going to be a challenge for us," he said. "Those guys play with such effort, and they do a good job of getting off the blocks and getting to the ball and making tackles."
On top of winning the game, Holgorsen stressed the importance of the trip in increasing the program’s visibility and recruiting prowess in the area.
"It’s important to us to have a presence over there. It’s important to us recruiting-wise, (and) it’s important to 20-some of our kids that are from the East Coast over in that area, so all that makes sense to me," he said.
One player Holgorsen continues to see positive thingsfrom is redshirt senior J.D. Woods. Holgorsen viewed Woods’ performance in the Marshall game – seven catches, 75 yards and a touchdown – as a sign that his hard work is starting to pay off.
"He’s doing everything right; he brings us a ton of energy," he said. "His demeanor on the sideline, his demeanor in practice, his demeanor in the weight room (and) even his demeanor in study hall now has changed.
"It’s fun to watch a kid that didn’t do that in the past look at his senior year and say, ‘Oh, I better get my stuff together here because it’s about over for me.’ He’s playing well, (and) he’s a guy that
we’re obviously going to throw it to."