West Virginia Football: What Mountaineers Must Do to Avoid Struggling in Big 12
With the West Virginia Mountaineers heading to the Big 12 Conference, there isn't much room for error. Facing the likes of Texas, Oklahoma State, Baylor, Kansas State and Oklahoma is quite a grueling task. There are no weeks off in this conference.
The high-flying offense that WVU has created under coach Dana Holgorsen will compete well against these powerhouses. Obviously, the Mountaineers want to prove doubters wrong who think they will be a doormat in the conference.
It will take adjustments, but West Virginia has the talent to make some noise. Yes, the Big East Conference isn't the Big 12 by any means, but WVU has beaten Oklahoma, Georgia and Clemson in BCS games.
Here's what the Mountaineers need to do to avoid struggling in the Big 12.
Show Up Every Week
It's no surprise that the Mountaineers have had slip-ups every season. They had a chance at the national championship in 2007, but fell to Pitt in a heartbreaker.
Then in 2010, WVU fell to Syracuse and Connecticut. Who can forget this past season when the Mountaineers were blown out of the building in the Carrier Dome against Syracuse? A loss at home to Louisville also made life difficult.
It's real simple: To be successful in the Big 12 Conference, there can be no weeks off. Senior quarterback Geno Smith and company need to come out with passion and the will to win week in and week out.
Otherwise, it's going to be a very long season for the Mountaineer faithful. Having a strong mentality will be key for a successful season.
Protect Home Field
Milan Puskar Stadium has an electric atmosphere when the Mountaineers are set to take the field. Even though it's relatively small compared to Big 12 schools, it feels a lot louder.
Just see for yourself when LSU came to town.
Protecting home field will be key for West Virginia in the new conference. Mountaineer Field will be home to some rowdy fans this season, with all the anticipation for the Big 12 and the recent Orange Bowl victory.
Two of the biggest games do take place at Milan Puskar Stadium. On Oct. 20, Kansas State comes into Morgantown following a Cotton Bowl appearance. Quarterback Collin Klein and the Wildcats will be a test for the Mountaineers. The home field must be an advantage for WVU.
Next, the Oklahoma Sooners travel to Morgantown on Nov. 17 for one of the most anticipated games in all of college football this season. Quarterback Landry Jones and company could be ranked in the top five in the country. Chances are West Virginia might not be too far back. It will certainly be an electric atmosphere.
Protecting home field will be key throughout the season for West Virginia.
Play with Confidence
When the Mountaineers are playing with confidence, they are indeed a tough out. Just ask Clemson.
In the Orange Bowl, Geno Smith was very confident as he threw for six touchdowns. The defense was able to create turnovers. Senior Tavon Austin was the fastest guy in college football on this night.
Overall, the team looked unbeatable.
If the Mountaineers continue to play with confidence, the Big 12 Conference will soon learn how dangerous West Virginia is. Austin and junior Stedman Bailey will likely be 1,000-yard receivers. Smith will be in the hunt for the Heisman, and can have a 5,000-yard season.
There's a lot of talent on this team offensively, folks. The defense will be a question mark going into the season, but with the new staff, the Mountaineers will be able to compete at a high level.
Believe in Dana Holgorsen's Offensive Mind
The guy is an offensive mastermind. Dana Holgorsen has been around the college football world. Houston, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State are some of the places he's been with. To say he knows the Big 12 Conference is an understatement.
With his one year of head coaching experience, Holgorsen was able to bring the Mountaineers to a BCS game. Now, he has a much bigger stage and added pressure. He's just a guy that doesn't fold under pressure.
Holgorsen has been with some great quarterbacks. Statistically, some of the quarterbacks he's worked with have improved dramatically from the first season to the second.
Case Keenum and Houston is one example. Holgorsen worked with Keenum and the numbers showed. Keenum went from 5,241 total yards in his first season with Dana to 5,829 total yards in his second.
Texas Tech's Graham Harrell went from 4,555 passing yards and 38 touchdowns in his first season to 5,705 yards and 48 touchdowns in his second.
With Holgorsen and Smith working together another year, the West Virginia quarterback will certainly improve statistically. Smith understands the game and seems to learn very fast.