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September 24, 2012

Holgorsen's Take: Big 12 Teleconference

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The wait is finally over.

No. 7/9 West Virginia (3-0) will open the Big 12 schedule against No. 24/25 Baylor (3-0) Saturday at noon and the Bears should present plenty of challenges for the Mountaineers.

But head coach Dana Holgorsen doesn't believe the off-the-field attention should present any distractions for the players as they prepare for the game this week.

"We spent a good portion of yesterday talking about that which is the same thing we've been telling them. We're going to try to do our best to ignore the outside and focus on what we're doing on the inside," he said.

Baylor features an explosive, up-tempo offense under head coach Art Briles that has a lot of experience at key positions such as quarterback and wide receiver which will obviously be quite the task for the young West Virginia defense.

"Guys that have been in coach Briles system for four or five years," he said. "… It's important but we need to worry about us and try to get a little bit better than we did last week."

The Mountaineers will need to continue to play with a short memory on that side of the ball, and even if there are some big plays sprung they will need to get back on the field and get after it, Holgorsen said.

Holgorsen and Briles coached with each other for three-seasons at Texas Tech, and while there are some similarities between the two offenses, there's still quite a bit of differences. Briles success doesn't come as a surprise to Holgorsen after coaching in the Texas high school ranks and then at Houston before coming to Baylor.

"He builds programs. It's not just a couple of guys here or there, they've got a bunch of good players," he said.

There's been a lot of talk centered on the West Virginia coaching staff's familiarity with Big 12 opponents due to many of them coaching in the league and Holgorsen believes that's a fact that doesn't hurt as the Mountaineers prep for the Bears.

"We know them well. They're going to know a lot about our schemes too," he said. "… Baylor has a whole bunch of people that are capable of making plays."

NOTES: Holgorsen said that despite some of the criticism, Geno Smith "played pretty good," completing over 70-percent of his passes and topping the 300-yard mark without a turnover against Maryland.

"I think he's playing at a very high level," he said.

When asked about Smith handling the pressure and attention that comes with being an early season Heisman candidate, Holgorsen said "His way of handling expectations is obviously being humble about it and ignore it."

Briles also spoke to the talents of Smith during his portion of the conference call.

"He's just phenomenal. The guy is playing really strong the last couple of years and he's why they're where they are the seventh ranked team in the country. Great leader and great football player and seems to be in control," he said.

Briles said his Baylor team doesn't know what to expect traveling to Morgantown for a road trip, but he did pay great respect to the West Virginia football tradition speaking to the accomplishments of the past decade.

"Certainly not fallen off over the last couple years since Dana got there," he said.


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