WVU looks to accomplish a lot during bye week
Published: Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, November 15, 2011 23:11
West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen mentioned a few things he would like to get done this week as his team approaches a bye week after defeating Cincinnati 24-21 Saturday.
"We have another off week; we'll approach it pretty much like we did last time," he said. "There's only so much you can do to prepare for one game."
"We'll have a good week of academics and (look at) practicing a lot of the younger kids, getting a jump start on the Pitt game, giving them a day or two off, and then coming back and getting ready to work on Saturday morning," he said.
West Virginia redshirt senior safety Eain Smith blocked a Cincinnati field goal as time expired to lift the Mountaineers to victory and back into the Big East title hunt.
Inconsistent special teams play has plagued the Mountaineers multiple times this season – something Holgorsen thinks is a problem for most teams across the country.
"There's only a few teams in the country that are able to dominate special teams," he said. "Each and every game is a challenge special teams-wise.
"The fact that we've had a few problems with it is probably very similar to a lot of the other teams across the country. There's been times that we've been a little discouraged with it, but then there's been times where we've shown a tremendous amount of improvement."
West Virginia was unable to put any points on the board in the third quarter, leaving room for Cincinnati to mount a comeback and almost tie the game. Despite having slow third quarters multiple times this season, Holgorsen explained nothing changes after halftime.
"I don't think that our halftimes have all of the sudden became bad. If you look throughout the course of the season and throughout the year as we come out, we have good third quarters," he said. "I don't think we've forgotten how to make adjustments at halftime. I give Cincinnati a lot of credit – they totally dominated the line of scrimmage, which makes it hard for us to do anything offensively."
Louisville head coach Charlie Strong had his team playing some of the most consistent football in the conference – that is, until Saturday, when the Cardinals fell at home to Pittsburgh 21-14.
"We didn't play well as a football team," he said. "Our focus and preparation wasn't there."
"Coming off a big win over West Virginia, you would have thought this team would be ready to come and play, but that's what happens a lot of times when you're trying to get a program rebuilt."
Strong is of the opinion that Pittsburgh's ability to run the ball and confuse his defense with various sets ultimately led to Louisville's demise.
"They ran the ball, and it was all about gaps, and we didn't defend our gaps, and they took advantage of it," he said.
"The thing about Pitt is (they are) so multiple with different motions – which should have been no confusion for our guys. But our players, they just weren't locked in."
Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano had plenty of positive things to take away from his team's 27-12 victory over Army in Yankee Stadium. One of those things was junior wide receiver Mohamed Sanu setting a new Big East record for the most receptions in a single season.
"There's been some great receivers to play in this league, so I'm just thrilled for him and thrilled for our football team to be able to get a win against a team I thought played extremely well," he said.
Rutgers blocked a punt and returned it for a touchdown in the game – further establishing the notion Rutgers is among the country's elite when it comes to special teams play.
"I think it's just a unit-wide thing," he said. "This year, we've had a bunch of guys that have done it, and I think it's just the culture that's been developed here – how important special teams are."
"It's a critical part of the game because it's the largest exchange of real estate that occurs in any play consistently, so we spend a lot of time on it – it's emphasized," he said.
Pittsburgh head coach Todd Graham has his team in the thick of the Big East championship race after the Panthers' 21-14 victory over Louisville. It was the team's first conference road of the season.
"It was a great win for our program, going to Louisville and getting our first road win. We played against a very well-coached football team, a really disciplined team that had won three (times) straight, and our guys played well," he said.
"We didn't have a penalty in the game, which is a big goal of ours – to me, (that) shows the discipline of our team, so I was really proud of that."
Pittsburgh has an off week and will return to action on Nov. 25 at West Virginia. Graham explained some of the details involved with planning for a game after a bye week.
"We've got the same situation they do," he said. "This is a game where I believe with the way you see the standings right now, this is a very, very critical game.
"Obviously, a rival game and a big-time game for both universities, you have to get prepared to play because they're very, very talented, very good football team and to be honest with you, where we're at right now, I kind of like having the extra time (to prepare)."