Quotes from Coach: Crawford's Consistency, Big 12 Familiarity, I - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Quotes from Coach: Crawford's Consistency, Big 12 Familiarity, Injury Update

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MORGANTOWN – The Mountaineers have two wins under their belt as they prep for their first Big 12 Conference opponent. WVU closed nonconference action with a 59-16 win over Delaware St. on Saturday and it was another opportunity to build depth.

West Virginia hits the road to open league play as it travels to Lawrence, Kansas, to face the Jayhawks. KU (1-2) is coming off two straight losses, 45-27 to Central Michigan and 42-30 at Ohio.

On Tuesday at his weekly press conference, Coach Holgorsen said his team has nine opponents ahead of them and regardless which one they are facing when, they are excited about the challenges of Big 12 Conference football.

“We’ve done what we were supposed to these last couple of weeks. We came up short in that first game, we know, but we’ve done what we were supposed to as a football team, as a football program, these last two weeks and we’re ready to move on to Big 12 play. That’s going to be our motivation,” Coach Holgorsen said. “Don’t care who, don’t care where, it’s just Big 12 football and we need to go out and we need to play our best, which is what we’re expected to do and what we’re expecting to do.”

As WVU enters is sixth season in the Big 12, there is a lot familiarity moving forward, but of course both teams bring new coaches, players, schemes, etc.

“We can’t face an opponent that we know more about, but Coach Beaty is saying the same thing in his press conference right now. They can’t face an opponent that they know more about. So, it’ll be interesting to see how this goes down,” Holgorsen added.

            *Offensively, the Jayhawks are led by juco transfer Peyton Bender. The junior quarterback connected on 30-of-47 passing attempts for 343 yards, two touchdowns and one interception in a losing effort at Ohio. He has thrown for over 300 yards in each game this season.

Last weekend, Bender threw it to nine different receivers, Steven Sims led with six receptions for 60 yards followed by Evan Fairs with three receptions for 77 yards. Chase Harrell finished with five receptions for 58 yards and one touchdown, and Jeremiah Booker with four catches for 59 yards and a touchdown. The run game was more successful for the Jayhawks last weekend, Khalil Herbert finished 19 carries for 137 yards and two touchdowns.

 “He’s a gunslinger; he can throw it all over the place,” Holgorsen said of Bender. “They have a lot of receivers that they throw to and you have to defend the run as well. Meacham has always done a good job in making sure he mixes in the run. So, they’re going to continue to get better on offense based on a new offense, they have a plan and just the timing aspect of a new quarterback throwing with new receivers. The quarterback has only been there for a few months, so they’re going to continue to get better and better.”

*On Saturday, the Kansas defense allowed 7.0 yards per play, Ohio scored on its first three drives and racked up 450 total yards offensively. Linebacker Joe Dineen paved the way with 11 total tackles, 2.0 tackles for loss. Safety Mike Lee finished with 9 tackles, 1 TFL, and defensive end Dorance Armstrong tallied 9 tackles and 2 TFL.

“They have really good players, especially up front. The Armstrong kid and the (Daniel) Wise kid are two as good as what we’ll see all year. They have very active safeties, they have linebackers that are solid and they have a couple of new corners that they got out of the junior college ranks, which we know something about. We know who every junior college corner in the country is and these were two guys that we had our eye on,” Holgorsen said

*West Virginia’s offense is off to a hot start and for the most part has been fairly balanced. Against Virginia Tech, WVU racked up 371 passing yards and 221 rushing, against ECU it was 403 passing yards and 211 rushing, and most recently 334 yards through the air and 204 on the ground.

We’re going to continue to force runs even when they’re clearly taking the run away just because that’s who we are. It opens up big plays, too. I think the reason why our passing game numbers yardage-wise is as high as it is is because of all of the big plays that we’ve had. We’re calling run quite a bit, even if we’re throwing it out there on the perimeter for various reasons, we’re calling it to be a run,” Holgorsen said of his offense.

            *Speaking of WVU’s offense, senior running back Justin Crawford is off to a great start, and a more consistent start. Against Virginia Tech, Crawford tallied 106 yards on 13 carries, against ECU it was 118 yards and two touchdowns followed by 15 carries for 102 yards and three touchdowns on Saturday. Crawford has found the end zone five times already this season compared to four total scores in 2016. Also, just for comparison, if you look at the first two games of last season, he finished with 101 yards in the season opener and in game two, it was just 40 yards.

“We have depth at running back – he’s carrying it, what, like 14-15 times a game for three games now? That number is going to go up at some point. Maturity, health, offseason, motivation, knowledge, everything. I like where he’s at. He was the best cheerleader on the sidelines on Saturday. He was out there yelling at the defense, the second-, third-team defensive guys to get off the field, which I thought was pretty cool. I like where he’s at in general; it means a lot to him to play, it means a lot to him to win. He’s going to do about anything he has to to get that done.”

*As far as injuries are concerned, some guys may be returning to the line up this week. Coach Holgorsen said redshirt sophomore linebacker David Long Jr., redshirt senior offensive lineman Grant Linagfelter, redshirt junior safety Toyous Avery and redshirt freshman offensive lineman Jacob Buccigrossi will all be making the trip to Kansas, but as far as playing time goes, he will have to wait an see how they look at practice over the next few days.

West Virginia opening up Big 12 Conference play at Kansas on Saturday. Kick off slated for 12ET/11CT.

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