WVU expects Marshall’s best
Published: Tuesday, August 28, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, August 28, 2012 01:08
Dana Holgorsen got his first glimpse of what the in-state rivalry between West Virginia and Marshall was like when he went through his first Friends of Coal Bowl last season.
"It’s a game that means a lot to the people of West Virginia. It means a lot to both teams for bragging rights," Holgorsen said during the Big 12 Conference’s weekly conference call Monday. "I know watching all of Marshall’s games from last year, which I’ve watched all of them over the course of the last week, they played considerably harder against West Virginia than they did against any other team out there."
Holgorsen compared the game to when he was at Houston and would go up against BCS opponents like Texas Tech and Oklahoma State.
The team from a smaller conference always goes into those games with a chip on its shoulder and something to prove to show it can compete with teams from leagues like the Big 12.
"We’re obviously expecting to get their best," Holgorsen said. "The biggest thing is for our guys to understand that we’re going to get their absolute best, and we’re going to have to play good in order to win.
"They’re going to play hard. There have been several games that have existed over the last 10 years that have been competitive."
Holgorsen unsure of Garrison’s status
When the Mountaineers started fall camp in August, it was the first time sophomore running back Dustin Garrison was able to go back on the field since tearing his ACL a few days prior to West Virginia’s appearance in the Discover Orange Bowl.
Now, as WVU gets ready to start its game week preparation for the Marshall game, Holgorsen is still not sure if Garrison will see time or if they will opt to sit him and maybe even keep the option of redshirting him open. Senior Shawne Alston and sophomore Andrew Buie have also emerged as possible contributors in 2012.
"(Garrison) was sore last week, so we gave him a few days off," Holgorsen said. "The plan has been all along to get him to game week and then get him out there and see what happens. I haven’t made that decision at this point."
Redshirting Garrison would be another hit to the Mountaineers’ depth at running back after freshman Torry Clayton recently decided to leave school to be closer to home.
Because of that, the second-year head coach said he will be using as many players as possible to provide some depth at the position.
"Running back’s probably the hardest position to play in college football," Holgorsen said. "Those guys take a pounding. You ask them to do so many things."
Leaders hoping to emerge on defense against Marshall
A lot of conversation throughout the preseason has been about the question marks surrounding the inexperienced WVU defense.
The Mountaineers lost a lot of experienced players and playmakers, including first-round draft pick Bruce Irvin, but Holgorsen said he’s not worried about replacing playmakers. There’s another thing that needs to be addressed that’s a little more important.
"My biggest concern is replacing guys like Keith Tandy and Najee Goode, who were our backbone of what we did defensively and were the best leaders that we had on our team," Holgorsen said. "It takes game experience to see which of those guys are going to step up and become leaders and guys that we rely on when things aren’t going good.
"I just need to see which ones will step up when things are bad, and the only way you’re going to figure that out is at game time."