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WVU is stressing focus during its bye week

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By Josh Sickles
Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2011

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — There's no doubt that West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen would rather be playing a game this week than having a bye.

The Mountaineers have outscored its past two opponents, 98-26, and all three phases of the game are showing improvement. Still, bye weeks are an inevitable part of college football.

"The reality of our job is, due to the season (being) so long, there are going to be off weeks," Holgorsen said, "You have to learn to handle them, which I feel like we've got a good plan."

No. 13 West Virginia (5-1) enters a bye week riding high and focused on improving.

"It comes at a good time," Holgorsen said. "We're relatively healthy right now, but the morale's high, which will get everyone doing their job when it comes to school and maintaining timing with practice."

Players will focus a little bit more on academics while all the coaches, including Holgorsen, will take to the road recruiting this weekend. The team will also start light preparation for Syracuse.

The most important thing Holgorsen is emphasizing during the off week is the offense maintaining its rhythm and timing.

With all the passing West Virginia does, it's imperative that quarterback Geno Smith and his receivers stay on the same page. Timing is something that can be easily lost if the team doesn't continue to practice its tempo.

"You can lose it really quick," Holgorsen said. "If you take a couple of weeks off, you're back where you started. That's the reality of throwing the ball and maintaining how fast you run your routes and knowing when the ball needs to come out of your hands.

"The timing, from an offensive perspective, is critical, and if you do take too many days off, then you're going to lose it, and you've got to start over."

Maintaining the chemistry between quarterback and receiver can be a grueling process of repetition. Especially when not preparing for an opponent, running the same thing over and over can be boring, but it's necessary to sustain West Virginia's offensive success.

"With us doing a lot of the same routes, it can get boring, but I have in my mindset that we're doing this only to get better," receiver Stedman Bailey said. "That's what keeps me going."

Fans respond

A week after Holgorsen called out the West Virginia fanbase for not supporting the team, 56,179 fans watched the Mountaineers defeat Connecticut. Holgorsen said he was pleased with the crowd.

"It was a great environment," he said. It's what we're after. The kids hit the field, and there was a lot of excitement. It's not for me. I can assure you that. It looks like everyone was having a heck of a time out there tailgating and enjoying the weather and enjoying a good product on the field.

"It was an exciting atmosphere and an exciting environment. I know the 12 recruits that were here had a heck of a time. It all ties in. If you missed it, it's a shame."

West Virginia has just two home games remaining — Louisville on Nov. 5 and Pitt on Nov. 25. The Mountaineers are averaging 55,501 fans per game, tops in the Big East.

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