“I was a little concerned about it,” Holgorsen, the first-year head coach at West Virginia, admitted Monday on the Big East coaches’ teleconference. “That’s your job as coaches, to get concerned about something.
“We had a good two or three days last week, came back last night and Geno completed 94 percent of his passes yesterday, whether it was in skell (7-on-7 pass skeleton drills) or team. Whatever it was, it looked to me like the timing was pretty doggone good.”
Not long after Holgorsen pointed out Smith’s success rate, the Mountaineers’ junior quarterback tweeted that No. 11 WVU’s offense hasn’t “scratched the surface and we’re hungry. The best has yet to come.”
If that is the case, West Virginia’S Friday night’s opponent, Syracuse, should be concerned.
The Orange (4-2, 0-1) have struggled in pass defense, ranking 112th out of 120 FBS teams in that category by giving up 293 yards per game this season. Holgorsen, Smith and company, on the other hand, are part of a passing offense that is fourth in the country with an average of 380.5 yards per game through the air.
Still, Holgorsen said he expects SU coach Doug Marrone to stick to a similar defensive scheme to what he used last year in Syracuse’s 19-14 upset of the Mountaineers.
“Controlling the clock and keeping our defense on the field and trying to personnel them in different groups and stuff was something they had some success with,” the head coach said, giving his breakdown of the Orange’s 2010 tactics against WVU. “We assume they’re going to be doing some of the same stuff like last year.
“Defensively, they’ve got experience coming back, guys that can make plays, so in a road game, you know, it will be a challenge like every week is in the Big East. We’re looking forward to a Friday night ESPN national television game against a quality opponent.”
The Big East Conference announced Monday morning that the Mountaineers’ subsequent contest, an Oct. 29 tilt at Rutgers, will be a 3:30 p.m. kickoff and televised on ABC.
Rutgers defeated Syracuse 19-16 in double overtime two weeks ago before throttling Pittsburgh 34-10 on Oct. 8. The Scarlet Knights are 5-1 overall and are the only 2-0 team in Big East play heading into this week’s games.
Holgorsen was asked if it is difficult to keep his players focused on the task at hand since WVU, ranked No. 11 in the AP poll and tied for 14th in the USA Today Coaches’ rankings, is the only nationally-ranked team in the Big East.
“I can assure you we haven't talked about that,” he said. “What we talk about every week is just doing our job and getting better and focusing on the next opponent.
“We want them to play with confidence, and we feel like we’re a good football team. But that’s our job as coaches, to make sure their heads are focusing on their specific stuff, which is preparing for your next opponent, which I think we’ve done a good job for the last week and a half.”
And the coach, again, wasted little time in pointing out that Syracuse came to Morgantown and knocked off the Mountaineers just last season.
“That should give our guys some motivation to play,” he said.
The first-year coach was again asked if recruits have been been questioning West Virginia’s potential conference future, and his answer was somewhat similar to one he gave last Tuesday.
“You know, it’s just a situation where you’ve got to explain to them the realities of college football, which whatever might be said or done here in the last couple months or the upcoming months, you know, it could look completely different in the next couple of years,” Holgorsen said.
“So the best thing is to choose your school based on what the actual product is, which we feel at West Virginia, the product is good. Attendance is high, interest in the program is at an all-time high. We’re winning games and improving facilities. So we feel pretty good about where we’re at.”