While the Mountaineers moved to 3-0 on the season with a victory against the Terrapins, issues such as conference realignment and the announced visit of ESPN's Game Day for Saturday night's contest with LSU bubbled to the surface. While Holgorsen did acknowledge the importance of those items, he also pointed out that they were things which he could not allow his team to be distracted by.
“For the program, it's good, for the city its good and for West Virginia University it's good, but all of that will be handled by our administrators,” he said. “Our job as coaches is to eliminate distractions and go through our weekly routine. I know it's all positive but that's more on the administration's hands. I do hope the fans have a good time with it.
“I've been a part of that before,” he continued, again emphasizing the importance of staying in a weekly routine. “You have to get guys into that routine and focus on task at hand. Go to class, go to study hall. make sure your take care of your body right, eat right. There's a lot on their plate each week. Every game is big. We've been preaching that since we got here. Marshall. Norfolk State, LSU, it doesn't matter. We want to get into a routine and get prepared and try to win the game on Saturday.”
Holgorsen was less verbose on the conference realignment issues, noting that he he hadn't had much time to consider the move of Pitt and Syracuse to the ACC.
“I've had a busy couple of days myself,” he said wryly. “We took care of business [at Mary;and], and obviously haven't had time to rest or relax. We had a full day getting Maryland done with and moving on to the next one against LSU, and we know we have our hands full with that one.”
The first-year head coach also discussed the nature of home field advantage, and offered an honest comment about the way he handles it with his team.
“Playing on the road you tell them it doesn't exist, but when you are at home you tell them it does,” he said wryly. We are certainly trying to convince our players that it exists this week. I thought we did a good job of traveling last week. The routine was the same, and the guys did a good job with it. I try to ignore the surroundings, to be honest, because I have a lot to think about. It won't affect what I do.”
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Holgorsen did get the chance to comment on turnovers and the play of Geno Smith when questioning turned to football.
“We had three turnovers ourselves which we weren't very happy with,” he said. We overcame a couple, but the one that hurt was the deflected pass. The three we got ended up paying off more than the three they got. It would have been an easier victory if we had won the turnover battle.”
“Offensively, we played better. Game three was better than Game One and Game Two. It all starts with blocking and we did a better job of finishing our blocks. We were able to get in the end zone a couple of times on the ground.”
Holgorsen also indicated that Geno Smith's biggest improvement this year has been in taking care of the football, while noting that neither of the turnovers he as a part of could be attributed to him.
“He has done a great job taking care of ball. The fumble was just a bam-bam call that could have been called an incomplete pass, and he got pressure from the blind side. The interception was solely on the receiver.”
Holgorsen was obviously displeased with a pair of unnecessary roughness calls his team was flagged for against Maryland, but was philosophical about them.
“Those are bang bang judgment calls,” he said. “Sometimes they get them right and sometimes they don't. It's officiating, and you have to worry about things you can control,and that's on of the things you can't. The thing I was happy about was when both of those happened, we didn't cave. We were still being real physical and they didn't get TDs off them.
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West Virginia typically spends Sunday wrapping up the previous day's game, reviewing video and correcting mistakes in practice before moving on to its next opponent, and the Mountaineers kept to that routine despite the LSU game on the horizon.
“I'm not smart enough to get a game ahead,” Holgorsen joked of his preparations. “I have glanced at LSU defensively, but I haven't studied them yet. Thursday night I reluctantly watched their game, and
LSU looked really good, but I did that more as a spectator than anything. [Sunday] was about getting Maryland over with. But LSU is obviously a good team. It doesn't matter how many seniors they had last year, because they replace them with guys that are just as good.”
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Defensively, it was a game of momentum, and Holgorsen noted that both teams rode it to scoring outbursts.
“Everything we did in the first half from a tempo and production standpoint, got flipped about the middle of the third quarter. We have to do a better job of regaining momentum. They went on three drives where they wore us out. We did that to them in the first half. It was alarming that we didn't get off the field, and we got tired. But we were able to regain it at the end.”