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WVU's offense evolves for Big 12

| Thursday, Aug. 9, 2012, 11:26 p.m.
West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith answers questions during the Big 12 Conference NCAA college football media days, Tuesday, July 24, 2012, in Dallas. (AP)

West Virginia faces nine opponents from the Big 12 in its first season in the league. That's nine defensive coordinators familiar with the offensive philosophy of Mountaineers coach Dana Holgorsen, who worked previously at Texas Tech and Oklahoma State.

Planning any surprises this year, coach?

“Yeah, we'll probably put something new out there,'' Holgorsen said. “I'm not going to tell you what it is.''

Big 12, take note. The Mountaineers' offense is diversified and explosive.

WVU averaged 37.6 points and 469.5 yards per game last season. Quarterback Geno Smith placed among the national leaders, completing 346 of 526 passes for 4,385 yards and 31 touchdowns with only seven interceptions.

Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey both amassed more than 1,000 receiving yards while combining for 20 touchdown receptions. Dustin Garrison led the team with 742 rushing yards and six touchdowns, Shawne Alston rushed for 416 yards and 12 touchdowns, and three other players rushed for at least 140 yards while combining for five touchdowns.

Displaying a balanced attack, the Mountaineers passed for nearly 2,000 more yards than their opponents while outscoring them, 489-348.

“It's evolved,'' Holgorsen said when asked about his offense. “I mean, obviously, eight years working for coach (Mike) Leach (at Texas Tech), the offense was kind of set. Made the decision four years ago to go to the University of Houston. Went to Oklahoma State. Tweaked it a little bit at Oklahoma State. And last year when we went to West Virginia, we tweaked it a little bit. So we'll see what happens.''

Center Joe Madsen said West Virginia's opponents should expect the unexpected.

“I hope we get a few more trick plays to fool the defense,” Madsen said. “We should have fun out there.”

Smith, however, was coy when mentioning potential changes.

“I don't think we'll make any changes,” Smith said. “I think we'll try to perfect with what we have now.”

Some change may be necessary as the Mountaineers face Big 12 coaches familiar with Holgorsen's offense.

“All nine games that we play in the Big 12 are going to be a tremendous concern,” Holgorsen said. “They'll probably know as much about us as we will them. It will probably be similar to the way it was in 2000 when coach Leach left Oklahoma and went to Texas Tech. You had two teams playing the same offense that knew a lot about each other.

“I feel good about it based on having nine starters back and 20 guys that have played offense. I'd like to say we put our own spin on it, and we're doing our best to fit with what the players are.”

John Harris is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at

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