The Times West Virginian

WVU Sports

January 3, 2012

Making a mark

Holgorsen finds a way — his way — during first season

(Continued)

MORGANTOWN — o o o o o

Getting started as a head coach has not been easy for Holgorsen. He, himself, has admitted that he had troubles winning over the players he had inherited from Stewart, that it wasn’t until the 10th game, having had the shock of being upset by Louisville and looking at the Big East championship and the BCS bowl bid everyone expected them to win in the weak conference slipping away.

Until then, until the urgency, until they saw that they couldn’t do it on their own, they hadn’t bought into what he was selling, he said.

They won their next three games.

“Our kids play better with their backs against the wall,” he said.

“Coming off that loss Coach Holgorsen told us we have to stop playing up and down and being content when we win,” senior linebacker Najee Goode recalled. “After those three wins at the end of the season it established us as being a team that can pull out a win in tough situations.”

Holgorsen recently gave Andrea Adelson of ESPN.com a look into what he was thinking about the mid-season losses to Syracuse and Louisville that kept his first season from being really special.

“I could pinpoint about 100 ideas about why all that happened, which bottom line is this — all those are just excuses,” Holgorsen said. “So whether it was a new coaching staff learning to coach together, a new feel with the head coach. Based on changing things in June, I don’t think we were very familiar with each other.

“Sometimes it takes longer than others to figure out what kind of team you’ve got. We just identified a group of guys that needed to be held accountable for what they’re doing and part of that is what they’re doing on the sidelines, whether we thought we were good enough to just show up and beat Syracuse and Louisville, being patted on the back probably has something to do with it, being picked to win the conference, that probably had something to do with it, just feeling you can show up and win.”

It is understandable why they wouldn’t buy in right away, for he was a different breed being thrust upon them than they had been accustomed to, neither Don Nehlen, Rich Rodriguez nor Bill Stewart.

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