No. 16 West Virginia opens Big East Conference play against Connecticut
Published: Friday, October 7, 2011
Updated: Friday, October 7, 2011 03:10
Dana Holgorsen has finished his first chapter of being No. 16 West Virginia's head football coach.
Chapter two – Big East play.
The Mountaineers begin the next phase of the season against Connecticut Saturday, hoping to begin their shot at a Big East title.
"We're excited to start Big East football. This is season number two," Holgorsen said. "We move on to Big East football and a good UConn team comes in here."
WVU did not get to a BCS bowl game last season and shared a piece of the Big East title with UConn, partially because UConn beat them 19-16 in overtime.
This year the Mountaineers want the title all to themselves, and they have inspiration to start off on the right foot against the opponent that stood in their way a year ago.
"Without having to use a bunch of motivational tactics this week, our guys realize that the game last year against UConn didn't end up the way that they wanted it to," Holgorsen said.
The first-year coach has been watching film all week of last year's game and the one thing he noticed was the difference – turnovers.
Turnovers have been a constant battle for the Mountaineers this year. Some days ending positively (Bowling Green) and other days ending badly (LSU).
"I spent two hours on Sunday watching that game and how it went last year," Holgorsen said. "It was a tight game – turnovers were the difference."
The Mountaineers may have found their go-to guy in freshman Dustin Garrison. The freshman running back now has 356 yards and four touchdowns after his 291-yard breakout performance last week against Bowling Green.
Despite the success of running the ball last week, that doesn't mean Holgorsen is suddenly going to give his running backs the ball 30 times a game. His plans to throw the ball all over the field aren't going to disappear.
"It doesn't change how we game plan," Holgorsen said. "Every game we've gone into, we've gone in with (what) worked. We get into the game doing the same thing.
"If we hand the ball off and we're fitting it upright and he's hitting the hole and making people miss, he's probably going to carry it 32 times," he said.
Connecticut has been a run-first team for many years under former head coach Randy Edsall.
Now, new head coach Paul Pasqualoni brings a different style with a little bit more of a passing attack, but still a hard-nosed mentality.
"They've got a good offensive line, and they are going to play fullbacks and tight ends and try to pound you," Holgorsen said. "It's much like LSU's scheme and way of football. We're going to have to do a good job of being physical and playing with a bunch of effort."
The offense feels it can take advantage of UConn's struggling pass defense with its big playmaking wide receivers like junior Tavon Austin and redshirt sophomore Stedman Bailey.
"I don't think they're going to play us the same as they play other teams because of what they've seen us do (on offense)," Austin said.