MORGANTOWN - The West Virginia University football team will practice for the fourth time today, and in the process satisfy the final requirement of the NCAA-mandated five-day acclimatization period.
That means after two days of helmets-only practice and two days of helmets and shoulder pads, full contact tackle football will be on the docket for Tuesday's session at Mountaineer Field.
Until then, there are unknowns for the Big 12 newcomer.
That's why second-year Coach Dana Holgorsen, in his black short-sleeve pullover jacket and khaki shorts, stood behind a podium last Thursday, balled up his right fist and punched his open left palm four times consecutively.
Pop, pop, pop, pop.
"It's the hittin'," Holgorsen said in response to a media member's question.
Holgorsen, who turned 41 over the summer, has plenty discern as he stares down the musket of one of the most difficult regular-season schedules in the program's history.
The USA Today Top 25 coaches poll was released last week and WVU is ranked No. 11. Big 12 media members voted the Mountaineers the No. 2 team - behind Oklahoma - in the league's preseason Big 12 poll, which was released late last month.
Those are lofty expectations for a program that has never faced five ranked opponents inside of league play in one regular season. In 1994, WVU went toe-to-toe with five ranked teams, but one of those was the season opener against non-league opponent Nebraska, then a member of the Big 12.
But in the coaches poll, Oklahoma (No. 4), Texas (No. 15), TCU (No. 17), Oklahoma State (No. 19) and Kansas State (No. 21) joined WVU in the preseason national rankings. Two others - Baylor and Texas Tech - earned votes, which means eight of 10 Big 12 teams appeared on at least one of the 59 coaches' ballots.
Expectations are high leaguewide, but certainly in Morgantown on the heels of WVU's 70-33 Orange Bowl win over Clemson that made Holgorsen the program's first-ever rookie coach to win 10 games.
"We addressed expectations," the WVU coach said after the team's first practice. "We basically told them that we are going to ignore expectations like we did last year going into the Clemson game.
"We didn't really care what you guys wrote or what the media was saying on TV or what the expectations were that game. We weren't going to pay attention to that and it's the same thing now.
"The expectations are high, which we like, but we're not going to pay any attention to it."
What Holgorsen is paying attention to is development. He saw it in December after his team lost by 26 points at Syracuse, lost at home to Louisville and trailed in the fourth quarter of its final four regular-season wins.