For No. 9 West Virginia’s first Big 12 game, Dana Holgorsen wants his players to embrace the energy of the moment without overstating its enormity.
"This will do a lot for the university and even a lot for the state of West Virginia, but it’s not our job as players and coach to focus on that," he said Thursday night on the MetroNews "Dana Holgorsen Show." The coach said he reminded his players throughout the week that "we’re just playing one game this week, we’re not playing all nine Big 12 games this week."
With No. 25 Baylor coming to Morgantown, Holgorsen will get reacquainted with Bears head coach Art Briles, whom he worked with at Texas Tech from 2000-2002.
"I’ve got a lot of respect for what he’s done," Holgorsen said, "and can’t wait to beat his butt here on Saturday."
Considering the dire situation Baylor’s program faced five years ago, Holgorsen credited Briles with one of the nation’s best turnarounds.
"He inherited a situation that wasn’t very good five years ago," Holgorsen said. "They hadn’t been to a bowl game in a long time, they hadn’t had a winning season in a long time."
"And now they’ve won nine straight, so he’s changing the culture there. But it’s not like the culture that exists at West Virginia to where West Virginia has won a whole bunch of games forever and ever and we walk by a whole bunch of trophies to support that. Those guys in Waco can’t do that."
DIXON DIALOGUE, Part I
Baylor junior defensive back Ahmad Dixon was a five-star prospect from Waco-Midland who committed to Texas and Tennessee before opting to stay home and become the most decorated recruit of the Briles era. What led Dixon to sign with the Bears?
"I’ve never been a player that would just jump on a winning team or go to a team that was already dominating the league," he said. "The guys like Robert Griffin, they were telling me about all the good things Coach Briles was about to do with this program, and all the winning that was about to take place once he got it all under control."
On the heels of back-to-back winning seasons, what’s been the response among Baylor fans?
"It’s wonderful, because with me growing up around here, I got to see Baylor when they were at the bottom, and I mean the very bottom, of the Big 12," he said. "Seeing us now be mentioned in the Top 25 is very good. Recruits around here are now wanting to be a part of this, wanting to stay home."
West Virginia guard Josh Jenkins suggested the offensive line took unwarranted criticism for giving up two sacks and several other quarterback pressures in last week’s 31-21 win over Maryland.
"They blitzed the house almost all the time, and we picked up a lot of them," Jenkins said. "If they blitz on almost every play, you’re going to miss some of them. If you bring seven people, and we only have six people to protect, we’re not going to be able to pick them all up."
Holgorsen attributed shared responsibility for the rush getting to Geno Smith.
"A couple them were (Smith’s) fault. A couple of them were scheme where they just brought more than we could block. The offensive line busted a couple times, so he got hit, which is disturbing," Holgorsen said.
"I hope Baylor tries to do the same thing because we’ve had a lot of practice this week on how to attack that."
DIXON DIALOGUE, Part II
Baylor’s Dixon on the perception of Smith out in Big 12 country: "When you’re a Heisman candidate, you’re not just any player, you’re not just a guy from down the street. He must be a baller to even be mentioned in that category."