West Virginia familiar with South Florida's Holtz
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
By Colin Dunlap, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- Even as the South Florida Bulls -- West Virginia's opponent Thursday night at Mountaineer Field -- will be coached by first-year coach Skip Holtz,, the programs have familiarities that could make the Mountaineers' task more difficult than it appears.

No. 25 West Virginia (4-1, 0-0) plays its Big East Conference opener against South Florida (3-2, 0-1), and the Bulls will come to Morgantown with Holtz, who has coached against the Mountaineers the past five seasons. Before being named head coach of the Tampa, Fla., school, he was at East Carolina from 2005-09, playing West Virginia each year. Holtz was 1-4 in those meetings and 1-1 against West Virginia coach Bill Stewart, upsetting Stewart's then eighth-ranked Mountaineers, 24-3 in 2008.

Another familiarity might be more important because it could lead to South Florida's being able to limit West Virginia sophomore quarterback Geno Smith.

Smith, who played sparingly last season, saw his most extensive action last year against Marshall, when starter Jarrett Brown was injured early. At the time, Mark Snyder was Marshall's head coach. Now, he is Holtz's defensive coordinator at South Florida.

"I worry about Mark Snyder, there is a friend of mine who is a tremendous football coach," Stewart said. "We didn't do great against Marshall when he was there; did OK, won some games. But it wasn't like we blew them out."

Last season, with Smith playing virtually the entire game against the Thundering Herd, West Virginia won, 24-7.


While West Virginia has had relative success against almost all Big East Conference rivals, particularly the new guard, South Florida has been the exception.

Among Big East teams, the Mountaineers have a losing record against three: Pitt (38-61-3), Syracuse (27-30) and South Florida (2-3).

A lack of success against a program such as South Florida is out of character for West Virginia, considering the Mountaineers have yet to lose to Connecticut in six meetings and have a combined 54-9-3 record against Cincinnati, Louisville and Rutgers.

"This is a South Florida team that I am sure will come up here loaded," Stewart said. "We have not done very well against these folks. If I am not mistaken, in the last four games, they have won three. ... I surely would like to think our young men have that in the back of their heads."

[HIGH-LIGHT]Injury update[/HIGH-LIGHT]

Three starters are fighting through injuries, but the way Stewart spoke Tuesday, it seems all should play against South Florida. Offensive left guard Josh Jenkins is dealing with an injured knee and missed the LSU and UNLV games.

"I watched him very closely the last two nights, and nothing flared up," Stewart said. "He has a clean bill of health. ... I don't know if he is 100 percent, but he is pretty well en route to that."

Cornerback Brandon Hogan (arm) and receiver Stedman Bailey (ribs) were both injured in the win Saturday against UNLV and were pulled out of that contest early. Stewart said neither injury should have any impact against South Florida.