The Times West Virginian

WVU Sports

September 27, 2011

WVU looks to avoid trap game

MORGANTOWN — There once was a television series called “Lost In Space,” but most people today are either:

• Too old to remember.

• Too vain to admit they are old enough to remember.

It was, however, a wonderful children’s show for children of the ’60s, John F. Kennedy Jr., the president’s son, once admitting that it was his favorite show while growing up.

One of the most memorable moments in this show depicted the Robinson family and an expedition led by its patriarch, Dr. John Robinson, who became lost in space during their journey and would get into various predicaments on strange planets.

Dr. Robinson’s son was named Will. Also along for the ride was a robot and whenever peril was approaching the robot would blurt out, “Danger, Will Robinson, danger!”

We bring this up today because if the robot were part of West Virginia Coach Dana Holgorsen’s entourage, it would be issuing a similar warning:

“Danger, Dana Holgorsen, danger!”

On the horizon, you see, is one of those nasty trap games that comes along during the course of a season, games in which everyone in the outside world believes a ranked football team has a patsy on its hands from a non-BCS conference in the week following an extremely meaningful, emotional and physical game.

In this case it is Bowling Green of the Mid-America Conference that will be coming into Morgantown a week after No. 1 LSU left with a 47-21 victory.

Holgorsen admits he believes in such a thing as a trap game, one where his team may be emotionally and physically spent and fails to take the challenge seriously enough.

“(I believe in it) just because of the emotion that was involved in that LSU game,” Holgorsen said during his weekly visit on the Big East Conference coaches’ call. “Obviously, everyone across the country understands what the emotion was because of the broadcast and the amount of people and the opponent.

“I could have told you six weeks ago because of the opponent, win or lose, we would have to do a good job of getting back to our normal routine,” he continued. “We expect to come in here tomorrow with a whole bunch of effort and energy to prepare for a good Bowling Green team.”

The first realization that WVU has to make is that Bowling Green is for real.

The Falcons, whose gift to WVU is a former quarterback there by the name of Don Nehlen, are 21st in the nation in total offense. Perhaps you need something to measure that against to understand just how strong it is.

Well, WVU has got this spectacular, high-flying, stupendous passing game, right?

The Mountaineers are 24th in total offense, three places behind BG. Bowling Green has averaged 468.5 yards a game, WVU 459.25.

And Bowling Green is no stiff on defense, either, considering they are 22nd in the nation in total defense, giving up just 294 yards a game to 328 being given up by WVU. The Falcons rank 11th in the country in pass efficiency defense.

The Falcons don’t get quality points for strength of schedule like WVU; if the Mountaineers don’t heed the warning of the robot, it could prove to be a problem.

Certainly Dave Clawson, the BG coach, respects WVU, but it doesn’t sound as if he fears them.

“They’re an excellent team, ranked high and have some good wins this year,” Clawson said. “Just the amount of off speed and skill we’ll see is something. Quarterback Geno Smith will be playing on Sunday at some point. They spread the field and he can make every throw they ask him to make.

“In Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey they have a collection of speed at the wide receiver position. It makes them a very difficult matchup. We’re going to have to do a good job of tackling in space.”

Nowhere did he mention surrender.

Holgorsen figures to push his team hard this week, not only to make sure they avoid getting caught looking ahead to the opening Big East game at home against UConn next week, but because they have a lot of areas that need work badly.

“We have to become a smarter football team,” Holgorsen said.

Giving up four turnovers to LSU was unacceptable to Holgorsen, as was not taking any. Neither was the number of penalties that built up throughout the game.

“We’ve got to focus on that,” Holgorsen said.

And then there was as dreadful a weekend of special team play as has been seen here since ... well, last year. It was culminated by allowing a 99-yard kickoff return for touchdown just after WVU had come back to within a touchdown on a long, hard, emotional rally.

“We took a step back in special teams against LSU, which just means they understand that part of the game better than we do,” Holgorsen said.

Email Bob Hertzel at Follow on Twitter @bhertzel.

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