FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - The offense that West Virginia brings to its first Orange Bowl appearance is very foreign.
Or, at least as Clemson defensive coordinator Kevin Steele said, the Dana Holgorsen-designed spread reminds him of football in a foreign country.
Steele should know. He's been around. His stops in a 30-year coaching career include the NFL (Carolina), plus his alma mater, Tennessee, Nebraska, Florida State and Alabama.
"You know, the best way to describe it for the person who doesn't have to defend it is it's in some ways like playing in Canada," Steele said at Clemson's media session here Monday. "There are 12 men, two guys in motion.
"That's not the way we play American football, but it almost looks like that sometimes because it goes very fast. They're spread out. They lead two open edges all the time.
"There are football coaches that I've coached with that say you can't play a football and lead two open edges all the time and throw the football, but they do and they do it very effectively."
Steele said Holgorsen's mentors have schooled him well.
"I think the big thing is when you've got a quarterback that gets the ball out of his hand, is accurate with his throws and the route-runners are quick, catch the ball on the run and then get yardage after the catch, it can be very effective.
"It's been very effective for (Hal) Mumme, (Mike) Leach, those guys, and it's a tough offense to defend. Now, just like, hopefully for us, it's harder to defend in a week (during the regular season) than it is in 30 days (of bowl preparation), I'll tell you that."
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TAVON AUSTIN and Stedman Bailey have combined to catch 55.3 percent of West Virginia's total offense this football season.
With an Orange Bowl to play against Clemson on Wednesday night, Austin (1,197 yards) and Bailey (1,063) rank 1-2 in reception yardage in WVU single-season history. Austin's 89 catches are a record, and Bailey's 67 ranks seventh in a single season.
And while it figured their numbers would mushroom in Coach Dana Holgorsen's air-first attack, are Austin and Bailey superior players to what the new WVU coaches expected when they arrived in Morgantown a year ago?
Shannon Dawson, the Mountaineers' inside receivers coach (Daron Roberts works with the outside receivers) tackled that one.
"I mean, I think you can tell pretty quick that they're special player," Dawson said at an Orange Bowl media session Monday morning. "You never know how a kid's attitude is going to be, and I think that's the most important thing.
"A lot of times when you're dealing with kids that have been good their whole life, then they have a little bit of sense of entitlement to them, and that's one thing as coaches, you've got to either get it out of them or hope and pray that they don't have it.
"So that's one thing that I would say that I've been more surprised with more than their ability. I could tell they had ability on Day 1. But I was pleased with the fact that they're selfless.
"I was pleased with the fact that they continue to go out and work every day just like they're trying to prove themselves, and so that's the best part about those guys."
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IT IS interesting how some coaching bonds are formed and sustained, like the one between WVU's Dana Holgorsen and Dawson.
Dawson played for Holgorsen in 1999 at Wingate (N.C.), where the WVU coach was the quarterbacks and receivers coach for one season (Dawson's senior year).