Holgorsen: 'Better things are ahead' for WVU
MIAMI — Minutes after West Virginia scored the most points in any bowl game, junior quarterback Geno Smith already had set his sights on what's next.
In 2011, under first-year coach Dana Holgorsen, West Virginia scored 12.5 more points per game than the previous year. That culminated, of course, with a 70-33 win over Clemson in the Orange Bowl, the Mountaineers' third BCS bowl victory.
"This is a springboard toward next season," Smith said. "But you know, we can't take it lightly. We've got to go back and get back to work and try and work twice as hard as we did this season if we want to be back here next year.
"We believe that we're contenders, but we've definitely got to come out and prove it."
West Virginia is one of two programs — Florida being the other — to win three BCS bowls since the 2005 season. LSU can join that group with a win over Alabama on Monday in the BCS championship game. The Mountaineers join Miami and Oklahoma as the only teams to win three different BCS bowls.
"It just shows that on any given night that we can come together," said junior receiver Tavon Austin. "We can beat anybody."
A year ago at this time, West Virginia did not even know Holgorsen. Now he has become the third first-year head coach to lead a team to a BCS bowl victory, joining Larry Coker and Chris Petersen.
"This is not about one game; it's about the journey we have had, and I think we're in really good hands," said West Virginia athletic director Oliver Luck. "As people see the program that we're building and the type of team we are, they see us heading to the Big 12, too. It's very special."
Senior defensive tackle Julian Miller said: "For (Holgorsen) to come in here and get us together and give us a formula to win, just looking down the road, it's all up from here."
Austin, who had a bowl-record four touchdowns, announced after the game he would return for his senior season.
Austin, with fellow receivers Stedman Bailey, Ivan McCartney and J.D. Woods, could make the Mountaineers' unit one of the best in the nation.
"The victory caps a great season and helps us lay the groundwork for the future," Holgorsen said. "The win puts our program in a shining moment for now, but we believe better things are ahead. We are just beginning to get this offense installed."
One factor in how West Virginia may fair in its first Big 12 season, potentially in 2012, is defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel and whether he stays on Holgorsen's staff.
He turned down an opportunity to go to Vanderbilt a year ago and now is being eyed by Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez. The two worked together for seven years at West Virginia.
"I don't want to get into all that," he said after the game. "I want to enjoy the win."