Off Week Underway

Through his first few months as a head coach, Dana Holgorsen has revealed himself to be a man who likes staying in a routine and isn't much for reflection. So as you might imagine, his West Virginia team's first bye week -- which inherently breaks routine and demands reflection -- isn't exactly a welcome occurrence.

"I'd rather play," Holgorsen said Monday morning, during his segment of the Big East football coaches' teleconference. "Games are a whole lot more fun than practice or spending time sending nine or 10 coaches out on the road recruiting.

"The realities of our job are, due to the season being so long, there's going to be off weeks, and you've got to learn to handle them. I feel like we've got a good plan. It comes at a good time. We're relatively healthy right now, but the morale is high, which gets everybody doing their job when it comes to school and maintaining lifting and timing in practice, and getting out on the road recruiting will obviously do us some good."

Indeed, though there is no game for the Mountaineers this week, calling this an "off week" might be a bit of a misnomer.

Holgorsen indicated players would have a chance to focus more fully on academics, while also getting a slight jump start on game-planning for next Friday night's trip to the Carrier Dome for a contest against Syracuse. They will spend time with trainers, healing up the various bumps and bruises that have accumulated over the first six weeks of the season.

Coaches, then, will spend time going through game film of the Orange this week, while also spending considerable time on the road recruiting.

"Our week is going to be a busy one," Holgorsen said.

But the first-year coach does have the benefit of getting to the bye week with West Virginia sporting a 5-1 record, ranked No. 13 in the most recent Associated Press poll and playing relatively well in all three phases of the game.

Perhaps because of the early success, everyone in the Puskar Center seems happy to come to work, according to the head coach.

"I couldn't be happier with where we're at right now," Holgorsen said, in a rare bit of pure optimism from a football coach. "We're getting better every week, you know, and I've said it for a while: the only way we're going to win a championship is if all three sides of the ball are improving every week.

"Coaches, players, you know, everybody's bought in. Everybody's excited about walking through the doors and excited about going to work every day. They do a good job in the weight room. They're going to class. Everything is going well, you know."

Given that success and the high level of morale in Camp Mountaineer at this point, Holgorsen didn't expect much to change through the off week or the second half of WVU's season.

He expressed a desire to simply work on maintaining some of the key tenets of his offense in practice this week. And even though much has been made of his team's slow starts, Holgorsen indicated he won't be making any drastic moves to try to coax his players into better early play.

"We preach to them consistency. We preach to them starting fast and playing for four quarters, and just worrying about getting first downs and all that stuff," he said. "So what we're preaching to them is going to be the same stuff we preach to them the rest of the year. We've just got to keep focusing on getting a little better each week, which, when you do that, you can be a bit more consistent.

"You know, there's a timing aspect when you throw the ball as much as we do. There's a timing aspect of things you've got to stay on top of. Otherwise, you kind of start over. You know, we'll take two or three days and just play football to the point we maintain our focus for the task at hand, start to prep for Syracuse. You've got to start to prep for them, which will give us a few extra days to jump ahead, seeing as it's a Friday night game, so we're a day short next week. So it will be important to focus on Syracuse, but also maintain our timing."

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