It’s back to work for the Mountaineer football team this week following its disappointing 49-14 loss at Texas Tech last Saturday. West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen said on Monday morning that his team obviously wasn’t up to par on all three sides of the ball against the Red Raiders in Lubbock.
“Tech does a good job defensively and they have against everybody that they’ve played,” said Holgorsen. “They were disruptive and when we went out there and fell behind I think our guys weren’t mentally tough enough to be able to handle another shootout, and I think that affected the performance. We weren’t able to throw the ball down the field when we had guys open so it was a combination of a lot of things.”
Holgorsen was also not pleased with the way his team ran the football, coming off a 192-yard rushing performance in its 48-45 victory at Texas on Oct 6.
“It probably started with our inability to run the ball,” Holgorsen said. “We didn’t do a very good job of finishing blocks early in the game. We didn’t make anybody miss at the running back spot. That wasn’t the only problem. We just never got into a rhythm.”
Defensively, West Virginia gave up 676 yards to Texas Tech - two weeks after allowing 700 yards in a 70-63 win over Baylor. In between, the Mountaineers gave up 404 yards to Texas and are surrendering an average of 498.5 yards per game.
Holgorsen was asked what he believes needs to be addressed with his team’s defensive issues.
“From a scheme standpoint I’m happy with where it’s at,” he said. “I can sit here and make excuses from a scheme standpoint. I critiqued that very well (on Sunday). I did it on all three sides of the ball. I critiqued myself in every single call that I made and it boils down to there are a whole bunch of good schemes out there and in the Big 12 alone there are probably five teams running our offense and our defense.
“It’s not the scheme,” he continued. “It’s the way they are playing. The problems on defense were the same on the offensive side. We didn’t play with a sense of urgency. Our effort was spotty. We were way too hesitant and when the situation got the best of us we lost our technique and we lost confidence.”
So, how does he go about fixing some of these things this week in time to face fourth-ranked Kansas State, winners of six straight, including a 52-13 victory over Miami and a 24-19 triumph at Oklahoma?
“We’ll go about it the same way we did the previous five games when we were successful,” Holgorsen said. “I don’t think there is anything wrong with what we’re doing offensively. I think we had a bad game. I don’t think anybody across the country in the history of football is able to put up the kind of numbers that we were on a very, very, very consistent basis. We’ve got to find other ways of finding other guys who can step up and we’ve got to be able to win some games in other areas of the field as well, such as special teams and defense.”
Holgorsen said the Wildcats will present the biggest challenge his team has faced to date.
“I’m very familiar with Coach (Bill) Snyder and what he has been able to do over the course of his tenure at Kansas State,” Holgorsen said. “Obviously this is his second one but it is the same as it was toward the end of his stint there the first time that he was there.
“They are the same way that they’ve always been. They are very, very tough - they are a physical group. They are extremely disciplined and it doesn’t matter if it’s offense or it’s defense or special teams, their whole program revolves around being tough - mentally tough, physically tough, very disciplined and just play with a tremendous amount of effort,” Holgorsen said.
Kansas State will try and do the same thing Maryland did with some success against West Virginia back on Sept. 22 – run the clock, possess the football and play good, sound defense. The difference, however, is that Kansas State has much better football players, especially at the quarterback spot with Collin Klein running the show.
“They do a great job of controlling the clock and obviously it all starts with their quarterback Collin Klein,” said Holgorsen. “He does a great job of taking care of the football and all of their skill guys do a great job of taking care of the football.
“It doesn’t change anything we do defensively. Our job defensively is to get out there, stop the run and try to create turnovers and get off the field,” he said.Briefly:
- Holgorsen was asked during his Monday morning teleconference about remarks made by some commentators that his offensive tackles were tipping off plays.
“It is something we talk about a lot,” he said. “I know a lot has been made about it, just because of the commentary, but it’s something that we are aware of and have been aware of ever since we got here and ever since we started coaching offense.
“We try to make sure that our stances and our signals don’t give anything away from a standpoint of whether a defense is going to understand whether it’s a run or a pass. That’s part of the trick about playing defense is you don’t know if it’s going to be a run or a pass and if we’re doing anything from a personnel standpoint, a technique standpoint, a stance standpoint, or a signaling standpoint, then that’s something we need to get fixed and make sure that we’re not predictable.”
He added, “I think it’s predictable of every offensive tackle in the country on various plays.”
- Holgorsen said his biggest disappointment following Saturday’s loss was the way his team failed to handle adversity, be it the environment, the weather conditions or the travel.
“The bottom line is we were kind of getting our butts kicked there and we didn’t have anybody bow up and this group (on Sunday) their sense of urgency was a lot better than it was during the game based on these guys kind of getting their confidence taking a hit and kind of being a little bit embarrassed,” Holgorsen said. “I do think that we will bow up and I do think that we will play a lot harder and I think we will play a lot better this week. It doesn’t mean that we are going to win because we’ve got a really good team coming in here. We’ve got to play like that, plus, we’ve got to play real well on all sides of the ball to win.”Check out Antonik's new book The Backyard Brawl: Stories from One of the Weirdest, Wildest, Longest Running, and Most Intense Rivalries in College Football History now available in bookstores. A portion of the sales benefit the WVU Department of Intercollegiate Athletics. Also, be sure to "Like" the new Backyard Brawl Facebook page and tell us your personal WVU-Pitt story.