“I said previously that the ideal situation was to get a one point win, to get the “W” but still have everyone’s attention [with things to work on],” said Holtz, whose team jumped out to a 27-7 halftime lead, then had to hold on for a 29-24 win. “I was really excited with the maturity and mentality and the way the team approached the game, and the way we played in first half on both sides of the ball.”
The second half was another story, however, as the Pirates didn’t come close to scoring (only a safety was registered) and gained just 53 yards of total offense.
“We played some younger players to get them some experience, but that didn’t go as well as we hoped for,” Holtz said with some understatement.
The substitutions weren’t across the board, as the Pirates did have starters in while Appalachian State rallied, but the point was well taken. Also clear was that the Pirates came out of the gate on fire, scoring 24 points before the Mountaineers could get on the board. They’ll hope for a similar start on the road the next two weeks, as they travel to West Virginia and North Carolina.
Although he hasn’t seen much of Jarrett Brown against his own team, Holtz is well aware of the WVU QB’s experience level, and of what he did against Liberty.
“He’s a senior, and he has had the opportunity to play. He’s really matured, grown up and developed. He’s been there, so it’s not like throwing a redshirt freshman out there.”
Holtz also noted that the departure of Pat White doesn’t mean West Virginia is devoid of weapons. He still recognizes the explosiveness of a pair of WVU offensive veterans.
“Even though the face or the number might have changed [at quarterback], Sanders and Devine haven’t changed. They’re still running around and catching the ball, and they are probably two of the fastest players we will play all year. Couple that with some tall receivers and nine guys that either started or played a lot on the offensive side of ball, and we feel challenged.
“The bad news is that’s probably the weak side of the ball. They have ten starters back on defense, and their linebackers are very good. They have Julian Miller who is athletic coming off the edge, and the guys in the back are good too. This will be a heck of a challenge for us this week.”
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While admitting that last year’s 24-3 win in Greenville was a good one, Holtz was quick to discount its effects on this year's team.
“This is a new team. I always say that a football team has a life expectancy of one year,” Holtz quipped when asked to analyze the effects of the 2008 victory. “It was a great win for us. Coming off the win over Virginia Tech, it was positive for us. It was like a vote of confidence. Players start believing they can line up and play with some of these people, and it did help us to win the Conference USA championship.”
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WVU hosts the Pirates at 3:30 PM on Sat., Sept. 12.