West Virginia begins preparations for Orange Bowl
Published: Sunday, December 11, 2011
Updated: Sunday, December 11, 2011 23:12
The Discover Orange Bowl on Jan. 4 will be the 13th straight bowl appearance for West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen.
Holgorsen has learned the do's and don'ts of preparing for a big bowl game.
"One of them is get work done here," Holgorsen said of one of his jobs to prepare the team before leaving for Miami.
"Making sure that you've got a pretty good plan and you get a lot of work done prior to leaving. Once you get down there, it is a reward and you want (the players) to enjoy it, but you don't want to them to enjoy it so much to where they're tired and wore out and bored. It's a tricky balance, and I think we've got a pretty good idea."
Right now, the players are working on finishing up finals and getting their academics straightened out before the bowl game.
Holgorsen was not worried about keeping them focused on the game, because they don't need to worry about Clemson right away.
In practice, the team is focusing on getting the younger players reps and getting the veterans healed over the next few weeks to be ready to perform at a high level.
The Mountaineers have 15 practices between now and Jan. 4. The coaching staff intends to use every one of them – 10 while still in Morgantown and the other five when the team gets to Florida.
While the players take exams, Holgorsen and his staff will travel the country to recruit for next season. He mentioned the Mountaineers' appearance in the Orange Bowl probably has an upside that gives the program a bit more of an advantage than if it were to have gone to a less significant bowl game.
"Recruiting is going well, and anytime you win it helps," Holgorsen said. "There is a tremendous amount of interest out there right now after what's transpired in the last year.
The other advantage is it made the team meeting I had in practice a lot easier, too, because these guys are a lot more tuned in and excited about what's ahead of them than what could have been, I guess."
One thing the team is confident with going into the game against Clemson is team defense. The unit has made leaps and bounds since the beginning of the season and has kept the team in games over the last three weeks for it to be able to come out on top.
There is still work to be done even though things are going well on one side of the line.
"The whole team responded to adversity," Holgorsen said of his team's late-season success.
"The defense probably played a little bit better than offense, but still not good enough to win if it wasn't for the offense making some plays and special teams making some plays. This is a team that needs to play well on all three sides of the ball to be able to win."