Holgorsen takes WVU back to his old school
MORGANTOWN -- For the second time this season, West Virginia University head football coach Dana Holgorsen will lead the Mountaineers into familiar territory Saturday in his old stomping grounds at Oklahoma State.
Holgorsen served as Oklahoma State's offensive coordinator for one season before leaving to become West Virginia's offensive coordinator and head coach-in-waiting at the end of the 2010 season.
"I felt that in order to get a job like the one I'm fortunate enough to have now, it would take being a coordinator at a higher level," Holgorsen said. "I took that opportunity (at Oklahoma State). I wasn't going to go there for a year and leave for the same job. It was going to take a job like this for me to leave the situation I was in."
West Virginia (5-3, 2-3 Big 12) and Oklahoma State (5-3, 3-2) meet in a 3:30 p.m. game at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Okla. The game is televised by ABC on WCHS-8.
The Mountaineers will be looking to get back on track after losing their third-straight game in a 39-38 double overtime thriller last week to TCU. It was also the third game in a row where the powerful West Virginia offense wasn't able to continue the momentum it had through the first five games of the season.
In the three losses this season, senior QB Geno Smith and company are averaging just 22 points.
"Trust in the system and trust in people being in the right spots are a big thing," Holgorsen said. "We have to execute, and it's harder to execute when you play tougher defenses.
"You have to elevate your game, and that's coaching. We have to get it out of them. When things get harder, we have to play better."
And with two talented offenses going against each other Saturday, it will be even more interesting to see the similarities between the Cowboys and Mountaineers considering how well the coaching staffs know one another.
When Holgorsen was at Oklahoma State, three other Mountaineer assistants were on the staff with him.
Running backs coach Robert Gillespie held the same position under Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy, while WVU quarterbacks coach Jake Spavital was the team's offensive graduate assistant.
Oklahoma State still runs a very similar system.
"It hasn't changed much at all. Just looking at it on tape, there are some specific things that they do better than what we do," Holgorsen said. "It's the same offense. If you look at it the very closely, it's called the same, and a lot of the routes are the same."
That could be beneficial to a West Virginia defense run by co-defensive coordinator Joe DeForest, who spent the last 11 seasons as a secondary coach in Stillwater.
The Mountaineers are looking to carry over the momentum they gained against TCU. They forced seven three-and-outs and three turnovers against the Horned Frogs in what DeForest and fellow co-defensive coordinator Keith Patterson called "one of the most impressive performances of the season."