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July 16, 2011Much was made about the distractions around the Puskar Center as the transition from Bill Stewart to Dana Holgorsen was put into motion in June. But according to the West Virginia players, as fall camp approaches any of those lingering concerns can be effectively be put to rest in camp Mountaineer.
"I really don't pay it any mind. I just think if everyone goes out there and does their part, we should come out on top," junior wide receiver Tavon Austin said.
The team has rallied around Holgorsen, and has been working hard during the offseason strength and conditioning program to be ready for fall camp. The Mountaineers are hoping to build on a 9-4 campaign last season.
"Coach Holgorsen is a straight forward guy and he doesn't let anything rattle him and that's the demeanor we take from him. We're going to do the same thing as a team and he's been the same cool laid back guy since he's got here," junior quarterback Geno Smith said. "He's taking over a year early and we respect that and understand that he's here to help us win and we want to win for him."
Senior defense end Bruce Irvin expressed similar thoughts on the attitude of the Mountaineers first-year head man.
"I just like Holgorsen because he is straight-forward guy. He's not going to sugar-coat it, he is going to tell you straight," he said. "If he feels like you're wasting his time, he's going to tell you. He's not going to play. I respect a person like that."
But that's not to say there weren't some difficult moments, such as before the bowl game and during the summer with all of the media attention, but that is now in the rearview mirror, junior offensive lineman Jeff Braun said.
"Now there is a real sense of normalcy going on throughout the program," he said.
And it's that sense of togetherness that could pay dividends this fall on the gridiron, as many of the players used the experience to bond closer together.
"You don't want the negative media attention, but sometimes some attention is good," senior defensive lineman Julian Miller said. "There is something special here this year and I think we're going to show the nation when the fall starts."
Playing off the unity theme, players have donned black workout t-shirts during strength and conditioning with the flying WV on the front and the words, commitment and sacrifice across the back.
"It's something more of a team aspect. When you got out there on Monday, you've got to sacrifice sleeping in, you've got to sacrifice maybe wanting to do something else than weight lifting. When you come out there on Tuesday, the shirts say commit, you've got to want to be committed this type of thing," junior linebacker Josh Francis said. "They ask a lot of you, when it's not mandatory, like lifting and running. It's not mandatory, but if you want to win a championship you have to sacrifice and be committed."