MORGANTOWN-It is rare that a coach comes away from a 55-10 victory unhappy, but that was the case following last Saturday's drubbing of Mid-American Conference member Bowling Green.
But the recipient of first-year head coach Dana Holgorsen's displeasure wasn't the Mountaineers' offense, that totaled 643 yards-283 on the ground, nor was it the defense, which limited the Falcons to only 10 first quarter points and came away with five turnovers. Not even WVU's poor performance on special teams-a.k.a Corey Smith's 14-yard punt or 258 yards of kickoff returns-drew the unkind words from WVU's 33rd head coach.
It was the fans, or the lack thereof, that attended last Saturday's homecoming romp over the Falcons.
"Last week was disappointing," explained Holgorsen. "Whatever our expectations are with our players as far as preparing every week and going to the game and playing our best, I highly encourage our students and our support to take the same approach.
"You only get seven opportunities a year. What's so hard about it? Is it too cold? It wasn't too cold for our players, it wasn't too cold for our coaches, our managers and our trainers.
"So, why did we have 20,000 less people out there for this one than that one? The funny part of it was we all were talking about it two weeks ago how much difference the fans and the crowds are going to make to the LSU people. LSU played well in front of 62,000 of our people and then turned around and went home and played a 1-4 Kentucky team at noon and had 95,000 fans. You want to talk about an elite program, that's one. I don't know about this place."
That should not be the case at noon on Saturday as No. 16 WVU (4-1) entertains Connecticut (2-3) in the Big East season-opener for both schools.
"They're physical. They're big. Their defensive front is big and they try to out-number and suffocate you. They're good against the run because they're physical and they try to out-number you.
"Offensively, they're going to try to run a bunch of power offense. They've got a good offensive line and they are going to play fullbacks and tight ends and try to pound you. It's much like LSU's scheme and way of football. We're going to have to do a good job of being physical and playing with a bunch of effort."
Two things the Mountaineers had little trouble accomplishing after the first eight minutes against Bowling Green.
After falling behind by a 10-3 margin the Mountaineers scored touchdowns on its final two possessions of the first quarter and on all three of its possessions in the second quarter to take a 38-10 lead into the locker room at the intermission. West Virginia had the football only twice in the third quarter, but scored on an 8-yard run by freshman Dustin Garrison, who finished with a record 291 yards on the ground, and a 45-yard field goal by junior Tyler Bitancurt to push the margin to 45-10 with 15 minutes remaining to be played.
The fourth quarter witnessed more of the same as Shawne Alston scored from eight yards out on its first possession with WVU's final two possessions ending on a missed fourth-and-one opportunity at the BG 41 and a victory formation on the game's final play.
"I'm never going to feel like we've arrived anywhere," said the coach. "About the time you do, you will get humbled by someone."
An event the Mountaineers can relate too after last year's 16-13 overtime loss to the Huskies.
"I spent two hours on Sunday watching that game and how it went last year. It was a tight game; turnovers were the difference. They've got a whole bunch of people coming back that were in that game and were able to go on to a BCS game.
"Our guys wanted that to happen to them last year and it didn't, so I think that's going to provide a little motivation for us to get in a good week of work."
One key player who will be different for the Huskies will be redshirt junior quarterback Johnny McEntee. The 6-3, 224-pounder has completed 65-of-129 attempts for 913 yards and six touchdowns, but has thrown four interceptions.
"It's a new system for him (McEntee),which probably held him back a little bit," said Holgorsen. "The fact that he's getting to play a lot of football is why he's showing improvement."
That's not the case, however, when it comes to WVU's signal caller.
"Geno (Smith) is excellent at getting the ball out and has some excellent receivers," said Pasqualoni. "We will have to vary up our coverages and hopefully get some pressure on him."
Smith, the top-rated quarterback in the Big East, has completed 138-of-213 attempts for 1,709 yards and 12 touchdowns with only three picks. WVU holds a 6-1 advantage in the series with the only loss coming last year in East Hartford, Conn.