WVU notebook: Holgorsen readying players for OU mania
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - West Virginia almost certainly could have used an extra week or so or another game or two to prepare before having to travel to Norman, Okla., to face No. 16 Oklahoma Saturday night in the Big 12 opener.
Then again, what's an extra week? Or a month?
"I've been asked a lot if I'm excited about playing Oklahoma in Week 2 or if I'd rather play them Week 12,'' West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen said Tuesday. "The truth is I'd rather play them never because they're pretty good. I don't know if it really matters, to be honest with you.''
Holgorsen, of course, was in Norman a few times while coaching at Texas Tech, so he knows what to expect.
"It's Oklahoma. The atmosphere is rowdy and it's loud,'' he said. "The people are right on top of you. They're a lot like Oklahoma State's venue. They have a winning tradition. We respect our opponent just like we always do, and we'll go to Norman and try to win.''
While Holgorsen has been there, though, none of his players have. The last time West Virginia played in Norman was 1982. In fact, for many on the traveling squad - freshmen, junior college transfers - this will be their first trip to any road venue.
"I'll do my best with explaining to the guys exactly what to expect,'' Holgorsen said. "It's my job to prepare them, to not only tell them what they're doing on all sides of the ball, but also this is a new experience for about 35 guys who will be traveling with us to Norman.
"That's a lot of inexperience, but we won't let them use it as an excuse. We didn't let them use [inexperience] as an excuse last week. We'll do our best to help them understand how we travel and what to expect in Norman."
After having time to digest it more, what was Holgorsen's ultimate conclusion about Saturday's 24-17 win over William & Mary?
"I thought we got better on all three sides of the ball, which is the overall goal of an opening football game,'' Holgorsen said. "I don't care too much about the score.
"Would I like to have scored more? Absolutely. Would we like to have not given up the big plays that allowed them to score points? Well, of course so. But there are things that happened that we'll be able to learn from.''
If it's true that a team improves most between the first and second games, well, that would be a plus for the Mountaineers.
"I was just excited about the guys that were able to get out there and make plays and show improvement,'' Holgorsen said. "And obviously we're going to have to show a tremendous amount of improvement on all three sides of the ball heading into Norman.''
West Virginia has lost a third defensive player for the season. Dozie Ezemma, a reserve linebacker, broke a leg in Saturday's win over William & Mary and is out for the season.
A senior who transferred after playing at Division II New Haven, Ezemma used his redshirt year after transferring, so unless he applies for a sixth year his college career is over.
West Virginia previously lost cornerback Nana Kyeremeh and linebacker Shaq Petteway for the season to injuries. All three would have been in the mix for playing time, but just as significantly were on several special teams.
Holgorsen also said Tuesday that junior college receiver Kevin White was still day-to-day.
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or email@example.com or follow him at Twitter.com/dphickman1.