WVU’s Holgorsen looking forward to Big 12 road games

MORGANTOWN – West Virginia’s first road test of the 2013 season at No. 16 Oklahoma will also be the Mountaineers and Sooners’ Big 12 opener.

The winner will be one step closer to claiming the conference crown while the loser will have to hope that it gets some help if its dreams of claiming the Big 12’s automatic BCS berth is to be realized.

“I’ve been asked a lot if I’m excited about playing Oklahoma in week two or if I’d rather play them in week 12,” WVU head coach Dana Holgorsen said during Tuesday’s press conference. “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. We’re excited about being able to travel to all the different venues in the Big 12. We got a lot out of that last year. We’re looking forward to hitting all five of the road games this year, so it starts in week two.”

Against a Sooner defense that shut out week one opponent Louisiana-Monroe, 34-0.

“You can’t ever play a perfect game,” continued the coach. “That’s impossible. We’re going to have to play well. I’ve been there four or five times, and they’re hard to beat at home.

“But they’re hard to beat anywhere. They’re a good football team and have been for the 15 years that (head coach Bob) Stoops has been there.”

The Sooners, though, are beatable at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Just ask any member of the 1982 Mountaineer football quad coached by Hall of Fame coach Don Nehlen.

Oklahoma rushed for 319 yards, but West Virginia dominated the passing game by gaining 321 yards. Added together, they made for an extremely-offensive contest.

With the game tied at 27, senior quarterback Jeff Hostetler dropped a bomb to Darrell Miller to put the old gold and blue in front for good, 34-27. A 43-yard touchdown run by Curlin Beck clinched a West Virginia victory in the closing seconds of the game.

The Mountaineers displayed a balanced attack in WVU’s 24-17 seson-openng victory last Saturday over William & Mary. Junior quarterback Paul Millard connected on 19 of 25 attempts for 237 yards while senior running back Charles Sims made his first appearance in a Mountaineer uniform an impressive one with 120 yards and one touchdown on 23 carries.

“I’d like to throw the ball a lot more than we did,” Holgorsen said. “We’re talking about throwing the ball only 30 percent of the time – that’s embarrassing.

“We’re going to try to correct that – that’s for certain. I don’t care much about stats, but we have to be more balanced. What the heck’s going on here? I’m talking about balance, and everybody says it’s an air raid and we throw the ball 80 or 90 percent of the time.

“I’m talking about balance because we can’t get the ball in the air 50 percent of the time.”

OU starting quarterback Trevor Knight seemingly had the same problems in the win over ULM as the redshirt freshman hit on only 11 of 28 attempts for 86 yards and one interception. Knight was able to accomplish more with his feet as the first-year starter rushed for 103 yards against the Warhawks.

A number that has caught the eye of the Mountaineers’ head coach.

“Linebackers are the most important with this OU quarterback,” said the coach. “You have to be disciplined when there are 85,000 people yelling at you and you just got knocked down. You have to have the ability to understand what we’re trying to do defensively and execute your assignment.

“Without mentioning names, there were a couple of guys last week that didn’t execute their assignment. There were some specific times in the first half when they were able to dump the ball for a first down when we didn’t get the pass rush that we wanted which would’ve gotten our guys to the quarterback before he could make the pass.

“You can’t play defense with 10 guys. You’ve got to be able to play defense with 11 guys and make sure you’re executing your assignment when things are rough – that’s what mental toughness is all about.”

And West Virginia will need to display a lot of that on all three sides of the ball if the Mountaineers want to win for the second straight time in Norman.