Posted October 04, 2011 on
AP on Fox
West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen appears to have the go-to running back he's been looking for.
Complemented with one of the nation's top quarterbacks, that could mean trouble for the rest of the Big East.
The 16th-ranked Mountaineers open conference play at home against Connecticut on Saturday, trying to avenge last year's ugly loss.
Since his arrival in Morgantown, Holgorsen has been preaching a balanced offense. However, in West Virginia's first four games, the Mountaineers (4-1) relied heavily on quarterback Geno Smith, who stepped up with the team lacking a ground game. He ranks fifth in the FBS in passing yards with 341.8 per game.
Holgorsen may have found the missing piece in freshman Dustin Garrison, who ran for 291 yards - tied for second-most in school history - and two touchdowns in a 55-10 win over Bowling Green on Saturday.
Led by Garrison, the Mountaineers finished with 360 yards on the ground - their most since they tallied 376 in a win over Louisville on Nov. 22, 2008. They had entered the game with 306 rushing yards.
"Dustin was doing a great job, hitting the holes, making cuts and making guys miss,'' said Smith, who completed 18 of 30 passes for 238 yards and three touchdowns. "Overall, that's what makes our offense so good. We can pick our poison and make (opponents) wrong at all times."
Garrison had rushed for 65 yards in his previous two games, and he didn't play in West Virginia's win over Maryland on Sept. 17.
"The game has definitely slowed down a lot since Day One," Garrison said. "I think it's showing. I'm seeing the holes a lot faster and hitting them a lot faster. I'm coming off blocks and running defenders into blocks, things like that. It reminds me of high school."
If West Virginia can get similar performances going forward, it will be favorites to win the Big East.
"Five games into it, we're happy where we're at," Holgorsen said. "But we'll get ready to continue to get better.
"It's a work in progress. A lot of people are getting aggravated by me saying that. A lot of people want instant results, but the reality of it is it takes snaps to be good at it."
The Mountaineers tripped early in Big East play last year, losing two of their first three conference games, including a 16-13 loss at Connecticut on Oct. 29 in which they fumbled away the ball four times.
Connecticut (2-3) has shown some offensive explosiveness of its own, but it has also been inconsistent. The Huskies are coming off a 38-31 loss to Western Michigan on Saturday.
UConn had 451 yards of offense, including 300 passing, but it gave up 479 passing yards and 490 overall.
The Huskies took the lead on Johnny McEntee's 26-yard pass to Nick Williams with 2:03 left, but a late potential game-tying drive ended at the Western Michigan 13-yard line with 45 seconds left on a fumble by Ryan Griffin.
Despite the loss, the game provided a confidence boost for McEntee. The walk-on quarterback struggled over the first four weeks, averaging 153.4 passing yards while completing 47.8 percent of his passes for two touchdowns and four interceptions.
It was the first time the Huskies had 300 passing yards since Oct. 31, 2009.
"I think I'm a little big more confident in our offense," he said. "We played well today and we were performing right down until the last minute."
The Huskies have blown fourth-quarter leads in all three of their losses.
"They've played some good football teams," Holgorsen told the Mountaineers' official website. "Every snap I've seen out of UConn has been very competitive."
The Huskies' win over West Virginia last year was their first in seven meetings. The Mountaineers are 3-0 in Morgantown.
BEST OF MAXIM
AROUND THE WEB
Dana Holgorsen has his share of concerns on the field heading into Saturday's Big East Conference opener. But he also had a message to send to West Virginia fans as well after a poor showing for last week's 55-10 Homecoming win over Bowling Green.
For a coach from the southwestern United States you would think to Dana Holgorsen stepping around a cow pie would be second nature. During Tuesday’s weekly press conference, Holgorsen stepped right in the middle of one.
Ironically, Holgorsen is responsible for the pie to begin with, Holgorsen needs to clean his boots sooner rather than later.
For the record, here is the...
Dana Holgorsen is not real happy with West Virginia fans this week after they failed to come out in full force to support the Mountaineers' 55-10 beatdown of Bowling Green last weekend.
Only 46,603 fans showed up to that contest that pushed the Mountaineers to 4-1 on the season after 62,056 packed Mountaineer Stadium the week before to watch West Virginia and LSU. There were...
Dana Holgorsen is my hero. Two weekends ago, the West Virginia head coach led his team into a packed house at Mountaineer Field, as 62,056 watched the home team take on LSU in the college football game of the week. Last weekend, on a rainy Saturday in Morgantown, an announced crowd of only 46,603 showed up to see West Virginia host Bowling Green. The actual number was much smaller.
HOLGORSEN ENJOYING THE WEATHER…sparsely attended football games and a head coach who is clearly pissed off about it and throws the entire fan base under the bus.(Hey, coach , the WVU fan base isn’t gonna fit under the bus ‘cause the Fridge is already under there…)West Virginia University head football coach Dana Holgorsen called out WVU fans for the sparse crowd at last Saturday...
West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen spent a couple of hours watching West Virginia's 2010 game against Connecticut on Sunday, but it wasn't to see how the Huskies might defend or attack this year's team.
Anthony Bennett received an in-home visit on Tuesday from West Virginia's Bob Huggins and Larry Harrison.
In the immediate aftermath of his team’s 55-10 win over Bowling Green on Saturday, Dana Holgorsen declared West Virginia had “found a running back” in Dustin Garrison. And while Holgorsen has continued to praise Garrison since, he acknowledged the crowded battle at that position made it hard to find a clear winner early.
UConn's opponent Saturday, Big East rival and 16th-ranked West Virginia, might be 20.5-point favorites, but that doesn't mean they're taking the Huskies lightly. That's what happened a year ago and the Mountaineers ended up losing, helping UConn to the Big East title and a BCS Bowl bid.
“Our guys wanted that to happen (go to a BCS bowl) last year and it didn’t...
Oct 8, 12:00 PM | Turf of Mountaineer Field at Milan Puskar Stadium
Connecticut Huskies vs West Virginia Mountaineers Odds
The Mountaineers will do battle with the visiting Connecticut Huskies on Saturday, looking to bolster their record and fatten the pocketbooks of bettors who back them.
The Huskies will look to vanquish their hosts on Saturday, as...
The Sports at Work Big East game of the week is the University of Connecticut traveling to Morgantown to take on the West Virginia University Mountaineers.
There are other important games in the Big East this week, to be sure. None holds the storylines of the Mountaineer and Husky game.
Seldom in college football is the hype leading to the season surpassed by the actual play...
MORGANTOWN - " Football is an aggressive, rugged contact sport. Only the highest standards of sportsmanship and conduct are expected of players, coaches and others associated with the game. There is no place for unfair tactics, unsportsmanlike conduct or maneuvers deliberately designed to inflict injury."
I lifted that paragraph from the college football rulebook, the...