MORGANTOWN - West Virginia University's football team, already facing high expectations, had the ante upped Thursday prior to the Mountaineers opening fall practice for the 2012 season.
The Mountaineers were ranked 11th in a national coaches' poll. Though coach Dana Holgorsen said the team is unconcerned with the preseason hype, he noted it does build excitement for the program.
"Expectations are high, which we like," he said following Thursday's practice. "But we're not going to pay attention to it. How you handle expectations is you just do your job. We talked to them about focusing hard on making themselves better."
The Inter-Mountain photo by John Wickline
West Virginia University football coach Dana Holgorsen, right, instructs Sean Walters on the proper technique to play special teams during Thursday’s season-opening practice.
Still, Holgorsen admitted that being among the top 20 teams in America is pretty special.
"It's important to be in the top 20 because the top 20 teams get more recognition," he said. "We're happy about being there. Are we going to throw a party about it? Probably not. Are we going to talk about it? Probably not. It's an honor to be there, and it's good for the program. But it's not going to change anything we do or how we practice."
Holgorsen said he was pleased there were not players still on the injured list. He said running back Dustin Garrison and defensive back Terence Garvin appear to be in full swing.
"Terence looked like Terence, and he's out there and moving around," he said. "Dustin looked good. He looked like he was cutting pretty good. It's the hitting that the people need to get over. Not only him, but the rest of those guys that were injured."
WVU practice in shorts and helmets only Thursday, and Holgorsen said the true test of his team will come when they pad up and start hitting.
He admitted that the players should be more comfortable this season, noting that it is their second camp under his guidance.
"We're still going to do the same things," he said. "We're still going to watch what's going on out there and make corrections. There are guys out there who are seniors who have played a lot of football, but we still have to correct things from a technique standpoint. That never goes away, whether it's teaching them what to do or getting them fundamentally better."