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Holgorsen Is Speaking in Some Familiar Terms

May 4, 2011
By JIM ELLIOTT - Staff Writer ( , The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

MORGANTOWN - Dana Holgorsen said a whole bunch of things after Friday night's Gold-Blue game that are going to play well with West Virginia football fans.

Like this: ''We talked about playing smart, playing fast, and playing hard ...,'' he said. ''If they do all that stuff and translate it all on the field, then they should be having fun.''

And, he said, one thing that just plain will not. It came right after someone basically asked him if it's fair to expect his offense to score at will once the season starts like it did against its own second-team defense in a scrimmage game.

''I don't care what people think,'' Holgorsen said. ''I mean, we want to win. The objective is to win. If you win 10-7, then people are not going to be happy but us as a coaching staff will be just fine with it - if you win.''

Stop me if you've heard that somewhere else. I mean, at this point, no one should even be allowed to joke about something like that.

That kind of talk got the last guy fired.

In fairness, Holgorsen added: ''I think we play really good defense around here, but if we have to score 20, 30, 40 points to win, then we need to have the expectations to be able to do that.''

Holgorsen, who enjoyed the atmosphere surrounding the spring game - he called it the best he's been a part of and said it's good to be in a place where people really care. He might soon find out that has its drawbacks as well.

What was it Rich Rodriguez used to say? The best thing about West Virginia is there's 1.8 million people and they all care about WVU football. And the worst thing about West Virginia is there's 1.8 million people and they all care about WVU football.

Holgorsen did not get defensive or worked up in his answer. The guy talks like he doesn't have a care in the world - it seems unlikely we're going to get any ''I'm a man, I'm 40,'' rants out of him like his former boss Mike Gundy. Frankly, he seems like someone you'd enjoy sitting around and having a couple of lemonades with.

Right now.

Let's see what happens if the score of the season-opening Marshall game is, cringe, 10-7.

The truth is, all football coaches say the same things. You can bet that Holgorsen fully expects his offense put up a lot of points at Mountaineer Field.

Last year, Oklahoma State outscored its opponents by 17.8 points per game. Mountaineers fans will love this: They scored almost as many points in the fourth quarter (116) as they did in the first quarter (127). Twice, the Cowboys offense put up 65 in a game, and it averaged 44.2 points per game. In other words, Holgorsen's got that step-on-the-throat mentality so heavily desired by West Virginia fans.

The Mountaineers, one way or another, were held to three points or less in the second half of six different games last season.

''We set the bar high for ourselves and that's the reason we go out and practice hard because we expect to go out and put up points,'' said Geno Smith, who will enter his third season at quarterback this fall. ''We know that it's not going to happen every game but that's a part of the learning experience. You can't hang your head if you don't put up 50 points and you don't get too high if you do.''

If Holgorsen's track record, combined with the multitude of big plays in the spring game are any indication, the 2011 Mountaineers aren't stopping at 10.

Jim Elliott can be reached via e-mail at:

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