MORGANTOWN - Despite wins over Marshall University in the Friends of Coal Bowl and last Saturday against FCS member Norfolk State University, first-year West Virginia University head coach Dana Holgorsen isn't sure what to think about his No. 18 Mountaineers.
"I really don't know where we are yet," explained Holgorsen during Monday's Big East teleconference. "We are going to find out a lot of things this week playing against a very good Maryland team."
Maryland, under the tutelage of former University of Connecticut head coach Randy Edsell, had the week off after disposing of the University of Miami by a 32-24 score.
West Virginia quaterback Geno Smith looks for a receiver after rolling out of the pocket Saturday against Norfolk State in Morgantown.
"I've got a ton of respect for Randy Edsell and the job that he did at Connecticut," said the WVU coach. "We preach about playing smart and he preaches about playing smart."
WVU, behind the play of junior quarterback Geno Smith, tops the Big East in passing offense (340.0 ypg) and passing efficiency (175.0), but is next to last in rushing the football, averaging a mere 72 yards per game.
Numbers that don't overly concern the Mountaineers' newest head coach.
"It's more about being efficient and not allowing the defense to dictate what you do. It's not about running the ball. I don't care about the numbers. I just want defenses to respect both."
In Maryland, Holgorsen will find a Terrapins defense that gave up 172 yards rushing and 195 yards passing against a Hurricanes offensive unit minus starting quarterback Jacoby Harris, who was suspended for the opener.
"We expect their best," Holgorsen said. "We talk about respecting your opponent each week. Whether we are playing Maryland or Norfolk State our jobs as coaches is to get our kids ready."
Something that was evidently missing when the Mountaineers took to Mountaineer Field to take on NSU on Saturday as the Spartans outgained their hosts by nearly 100 yards (242-143) and led by a 12-10 margin at the intermission.
"We weren't ready to play in the first half. I could come up with a number of excuses - the short week, coming off an emotional win over an instate opponent in Marshall, having to wait five hours to get that game in.
"But, I am proud of the way the guys woke up and did what they had to do."
Which was dig themselves out of a hole against teams the Mountaineers should have put in a hole. WVU has managed to put only three points on the scoreboard in the first quarters of their wins over the Thundering Herd and the Spartans.
A number that has caught the first-year coach's attention.
"It (scoring early) is critical," said Holgorsen. "Especially playing a good football team."
On a positive note, however, once Smith and company has gotten things rolling, the scoreboard looks more like a pinball machine.
In his first two games, Smith has completed 46-of-69 attempts for 620 yards and six touchdowns with zero interceptions. Three of his favorite targets - Tavon Austin, Ivan McCartney and Devon Brown - are listed among the top 10 receivers in the Big East this week.
Austin, who returned a kickoff 100yards for a score against Marshall, has nine catches for 114 yards and one touchdown while McCartney also has nine receptions for 110 yards and two scores. Brown, the Wake Forest transfer, leads the team with 151 receiving yards on eight catches and has found the end zone once in WVU's first two games.
On the negative side, however, is freshman Vernard Roberts leading the rushing attack with a 38.0 ypg average and a defense that has yet to force a turnover.
"I'm not really surprised where we are at," said the coach. "We just have to try and get better every week."