WVU's Holgorsen: "It is Conference Time" - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

WVU's Holgorsen: "It is Conference Time"


Standing before his team after its third win of the season, Dana Holgorsen brought up the subject of the next week's opponent. The Big 12 schedule had finally arrived and for what he says was the first time, he talked to his players about their new conference.

Since then, though, the Big 12 and Baylor specifically have been the major focus of conversation.

"It is conference time, which means we need to pick things up a little bit," Holgorsen said Monday (Listen to each coaches' teleconference here).

When he uses the word "we," he apparently means a wide range of people. Holgorsen compared his expectations for game day this week with what he witnessed in Morgantown just over 48 hours before then and clearly he believes a meeting with the Bears will be a different experience than one with the Terrapins of Maryland.

"We're looking forward to a very festive, fun Saturday this coming week," he said. "I thought the energy and the excitement level of last week was very average, not only from a players' standpoint, but from a coaches' standpoint and from an atmosphere standpoint."

The key this week is to ignore all distractions and what anyone outside of the program has to say about the players and coaches within it. A tough Baylor team is coming to town after having just moved into the nation's top 25 for the first time this season.

Head coach Art Briles may have lost his Heisman Trophy winner to the NFL, but quarterback Nick Florence has carried the Bears to a 3-0 non-conference start and he's done so while guiding the team to scores of 58, 48 and 47.

The matchup will feature two programs that rank in the top 10 of passing yards and points scored and it will usher in a new style of play that West Virginia was not so privy to in the Big East.

"I think you've got to be prepared for it, if you just look at the stats," said Holgorsen. "We're not bad on offense, but there's plenty of teams that are doing a whole lot of things better than we are on the offensive side of the ball. From a statistical standpoint, Baylor's doing some things better than we are."

WVU's worst offensive performance in the non-conference portion of the season was this past weekend against Maryland in which the ground game couldn't even muster 25 yards and quarterback Geno Smith had more incompletions than he had in the first two games combined.

While the 31 points was nothing to scoff at, there must be marked improvement to beat Baylor.

"Offensively, I think we played just okay last week, which if you just play okay going against an offense like Baylor, then you're probably not going to have enough points to win," Holgorsen said.

Getting the team ready in terms of focus and excitement should not be a difficult task for the Mountaineers coaching staff. Since it was first announced that West Virginia would make the move to the Big 12, the anticipation in Morgantown has been high.

Briles and the Bears just happen to be the first opponent listed on the schedule.

"[There is] a lot of anticipation, not only within the state of West Virginia, but across the country with having West Virginia be a part of the Big 12," said Holgorsen. "There will be a lot of eyes on us, which we've had that situation before and I've got a lot of experienced kids, got a program that's pretty established and used to winning and used to being in the national spotlight, so I don't think it would take away from our preparation or I don't think we'll allow it to become a distraction."

Holgorsen said he and his staff will prepare the Mountaineers this week as they would for any game, whether it was a non-conference opponent they knew well like the Terps or a new addition to the slate like Baylor and every team remaining after.

This game has bigger implications than any of the first three and finally West Virginia gets to see how it fairs against one of the teams that will become a mainstay in future scheduling.

This is the initial litmus test for the Mountaineers.

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