Holgorsen: UConn's Record Deceiving
By John Antonik for WVUsports.com
October 03, 2011 02:55 PM
West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen isn’t buying this UConn-is-down stuff, despite the Huskies bringing a 2-3 record into Morgantown this weekend and losing three of their last four games to Vanderbilt, Iowa State and Western Michigan.
During Monday’s Big East Conference coaches’ call, Holgorsen said he sees a lot of the same players from last year’s team that defeated West Virginia in overtime and helped UConn to a BCS bowl appearance for the first time in school history.
“They’ve played some good football teams,” Holgorsen said. “If you look at what Western Michigan has done this year they’ve been competitive in every game and they’ve played some pretty good people. I watched the tape pretty closely and that wasn’t UConn playing poorly - that was Western Michigan making a whole bunch of plays in very tight space, which was fairly impressive to watch.
“(Western Michigan) played Michigan pretty tough and has had a successful season this year. Iowa State much the same: they lost to Iowa State in a very competitive game,” Holgorsen said. “Every snap I’ve seen out of UConn has been very competitive.”
Two hours of Holgorsen’s Sunday was spent reviewing West Virginia’s game at Connecticut last year.
“Not from a schematic standpoint but from how their players stack up against our players,” Holgorsen said. “Obviously one of the things that stood out was the D-line. They’ve got four returning starters and they’re big bodies and they are able to roll some people in there. They do a good job with them.”
Holgorsen says Connecticut’s slow start could be attributed to the coaching transition and the returning players still getting used to the new staff.
“If they were 5-0 or 0-5, based on what I’ve seen on tape … as competitive as they’ve been and as hard as they’ve played, and the physical football players that they have, it’s going to be a challenge, no question,” he said.Briefly:
- Holgorsen said he was pleased with the way his young team was able to move past the disappointment of losing to LSU to focus on beating a pretty good Bowling Green team last Saturday afternoon.
“Going into last week we had to jump start them earlier in the week just because of the emotional game we had the week before and coming off the loss. The thing I was proud the most about with the guys is throughout the week they got more excited to play as the game got closer,” Holgorsen said. “We started kind of slow against Bowling Green, but then was able to take care of business and play well and get a lot of people in there to play a lot of snaps.”
- West Virginia’s 360 yards rushing against Bowling Green were the most produced by the Mountaineers’ ground game in three seasons, and comes at a welcome time with conference play right around the corner. Holgorsen said the offensive line is making steady improvement under veteran coach Bill Bedenbaugh.
“They’ve allowed themselves to be coached,” Holgorsen said. “After the first game, we knew we had a couple of new starters, we had a couple of guys that were returning starters that didn’t go through spring practice; plus, you put that with a new coach, a new system and a new scheme, it’s not surprising that it took them a few games to get going. But they’ve shown improvement each week, not only with what their schemes are, but with where their technique is. Coach Bedenbaugh has done a great job with them.”
And a direct beneficiary of the improved offensive line play is freshman tailback Dustin Garrison, who ran for a WVU freshman-record 291 yards against Bowling Green on Saturday. Garrison scored two touchdowns and averaged 9.1 yards per attempt.
For the season, Garrison is now averaging 7.9 yards per attempt and has scored four touchdowns, adding an extra dimension to the offense.
“He played well. He played hard. He made a lot of guys miss,” said Holgorsen of Garrison’s performance on Saturday. “It’s hard when you have so many guys to get a guy into a rhythm, but there is nothing you can do about that. You’ve got to tell those guys to take advantage of the opportunities that they have and the last six quarters, Dustin has been able to get in there and get on a roll. The more we gave it to him and the more he’s played, the better he’s got.”
The West Virginia players have today off and will begin heavy prep work for UConn beginning on Tuesday afternoon.
Tickets are available for Saturday’s game and can be purchased by contacting the Mountaineer Ticket Office toll-free at 1-800-WVU GAME or by logging on to http://www.wvugame.com
Saturday’s game is slated for a noon kickoff.
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