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WVU coach taking jab at solving slow starts

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen pulled no punches last week in trying to get his team off to a fast start.

"I had the best starter in boxing come here and talk to them about how you start fast, Roy Jones Jr.," Holgorsen said. "All he talked about was get in there, start fast and beat them to the punch."

Jones is 54-8 in his career with 40 knockouts, 16 of which have come in the first two rounds. West Virginia, however, still struggled early against Connecticut on Saturday.

The Mountaineers' first four drives ended in a field goal, turnover and two punts. Part of it may be the expectations to score every time.

"You have to coach them into not pressing," Holgorsen said. "I pressed in the first half a little bit too."

Miramar High show

It might seem like quarterback Geno Smith and receivers Stedman Bailey and Ivan McCartney have been doing this for years.

That's because they have.

Smith, Bailey and McCartney attended Miramar High School in Miami and have played together for the past six years.

"We feel very comfortable," Bailey said. "We've been doing this for so long now, even in the offseason. We put in a lot of work, and right about now, we're feeling very comfortable."

Smith threw for 450 yards and four touchdowns Saturday. Bailey caught seven passes for 178 yards and two touchdowns, and McCartney added six receptions for 131 yards. Of Smith's 2,159 passing yards this season, more than half have gone to Bailey and McCartney.

Bailey is the first receiver in school history to record four straight 100-yard games. His 84-yard touchdown in the 43-16 victory over the Huskies is a career long and the longest at West Virginia since a Tito Gonzales' 79-yard catch in the 2008 Fiesta Bowl.

"(Bailey) sees the game like a quarterback," Smith said. "Ivan does as well. He's getting better with each game."

Bruce is back

Senior defensive end Bruce Irvin recorded his first sack since the opener against Marshall.

"Connecticut was dropping back and holding the ball a little long," Irvin said. "So they gave us an opportunity to pin our ears back and go get them."

Irvin had 1.5 sacks. On his solo sack, he came untouched off the edge and almost took off quarterback Johnny McEntee's head. He then teamed with Jewone Snow to sack McEntee for a safety.

Redshirt sophomore Will Clarke, an Allderdice graduate, started the game. Irvin came in mostly in passing situations like he did last season when he was second in the nation with 14 sacks.

"I told Kirelav (defensive line coach Bill Kirelawich) I'm really feeling the coming in on second-and-10 thing, or a second-and-long, second-and-5 or more," he said. "That's when he brings me in. We've got a good rotation, and it paid off today."

MOUNTAINEERS LOOK AHEAD

West Virginia (5-1, 1-0)

Next opponent: Syracuse (4-2, 0-1)

Time and place: 8 p.m. Oct. 21 at the Carrier Dome, Syracuse, N.Y.

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