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Holgorsen to Team: Handle Expectations

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MORGANTOWN -

Dana Holgorsen has heard the hype heading into his second season as head coach for the Mountaineers. After all, he helped create it in the first place, and he wants it to remain throughout the schedule that lies ahead of him.

With preseason accolades for individuals and high expectations for the team as a whole, Holgorsen met with his Mountaineers on the eve of preseason camp to make sure their heads do not swell from what the fans and the media may be saying.

"We told them we're going to handle expectations like we did last year going into the Clemson game. We didn't care what you guys wrote or what the media was saying on TV," Holgorsen says of the weeks leading up to January's Orange Bowl. "It's the same thing now, expectations are high which we like, but we're not going to pay attention to it. How you handle expectations is you just do your job."

Holgorsen has never made a secret of his desire to bring attention to the program and keep it in the spotlight, both for the success of the team in the present as well as in recruiting for the future.

His team began camp just hours after learning that it had received the No. 11 ranking in the preseason USA Today Coaches Poll, and the head coach did not really downplay the importance of such a feat.

"It's important to be in the Top 20. The Top 20 teams get more recognition, so it's good to be there. We're happy about being there," Holgorsen said before switching his tone a bit. "Are we going to throw a party about it? Probably not. Are we going to talk about it? Probably not."

As WVU prepares for the 2012 season, it will be doing so without as many as four of its latest signing class.

Wide receiver Deontay McManus and linebacker Sam Lebbie, perhaps the two best recruits on each side of the ball, are attending prep school with the hope of joining the Mountaineers in January.

Another receiver, Dee Joyner, looks unlikely to make it to camp, though Holgorsen would only say he is currently unsure of his status. And running back Roshard Burney is "still trying," according to Holgorsen.

Holgorsen said that without those four players in camp, his roster currents boasts 79 or 80 scholarship players. His goal is to continue to push for the 85-player limit in year three with WVU.

As for the players who were injured in the spring, Holgorsen says each one has a clean bill of health and he is looking forward to seeing what they can do once the pads are on.

Among those is sophomore running back Dustin Garrison, who continues to wear a brace after surgery to repair damage to his left knee.

"He looked like he was cutting pretty good, but it's the hitting that people need to get over. Not only him, but the rest of those guys that were injured," says Holgorsen.

Sometimes it is worth pointing out that this year was supposed to be Holgorsen's first as WVU head coach. This camp should have been the first in which he ran the show, but a series of events pushed up his start date.

He will downplay the significance of having to learn on the fly as he says he has been preparing for the role of a head coach ever since he entered the profession. Still, he saw what worked last year and what did not and while he believes the structure and schedule of his camp worked, he is looking forward to making adjustments to how the team prepares in year two.

"We want to make as much progress in the spring as we did in December," he says of the work done before the bowl game. "That's the goal, that's why we don't talk about games, we just want to get better. Once we get closer to the game we'll worry about the game."

There is less than a month remaining before that first game against Marshall. In the meantime, Holgorsen and his Mountaineers will work to prepare themselves for the season rather than focus on any of the opponents that lie ahead.

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