The answer to defensive surprises, of course, is to try and prepare for anything and everything.
"There's really nothing that you can throw at us that we're not expecting or that we haven't seen,'' Holgorsen said. "I mean, how many different fronts can you line up in, how many different coverages can you line up in, how many different blitzes can people do? It's just a matter of recognizing it and figuring out what they're doing and communicate that with your players. I'd like to think we have enough good coaches where we can figure that out and be able to adjust on the sidelines.''
Sometimes, though, it's not an exotic defense that is best-suited to stop an exotic offense. Holgorsen's offenses have, for the most part, been successful against just about everyone they've faced, be it at Texas Tech or Houston or Oklahoma State. He has been an offensive coordinator at each of those schools, beginning in 2005. And the lowest any of his offenses ranked nationally in total offense was No. 6. In the last four years his teams have all ranked in the top three.
But there have been occasions during his coaching career when good defense simply shut down good offense. He's quick to point out the 2001 Alamo Bowl when he was an assistant at Texas Tech and the Red Raiders played Iowa. Tech had another of those high-powered offenses with Kliff Kingsbury at quarterback.
"They were really good and they've always had a really good defense. And you can turn on their tape right now and it's the same defense it was back in 2001,'' Holgorsen said. "They were just as bland as you can possibly be - 4-3, cover four. And that's all they did every dang snap. And they whipped us.''
Tech scored one touchdown and lost 19-16 on a last-second field goal.
"There's a whole bunch of good defenses out there,'' Holgorsen said. "It's all about what they believe in and what they feel like they can execute.''
So in other words, Holgorsen won't stay up nights worrying about what trickery opposing defenses might employ. He will start working on Marshall in time to get ready for that game, then move on to Norfolk State and then Maryland and right on down the line.
"Game two, Norfolk State, I don't know what they do on defense. And I really don't care right now. I'll figure that out a week before we play them,'' he said. "Teams that I'm real familiar with, I kind of have an idea of what they're doing, but I'm still going to prepare for them the same. We're still going to watch the same amount of tape and figure out what the personnel is and figure out what their tendencies are. But their [defensive coordinator] might have changed. It's just part of the game. You don't truly until you get into it.''
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickm...@aol.com.