The Times West Virginian

Bob Herzel

November 13, 2013

HERTZEL COLUMN- Holgorsen: WVU is better than its record

MORGANTOWN — You cannot argue with reality, and reality says that West Virginia is a 4-6 football team, a team that needs to close the year with two straight victories to reach .500 and qualify for a bowl.

Reality says West Virginia is not very good.

Yet ...

Yet, what? Is it possible that reality isn’t as real as it seems?

See, West Virginia may be closer to being a winning team than anyone imagines.

At least, that’s the way Coach Dana Holgorsen sees it.

“I think we’re close. I think we’ve been close all year. We’re playing quality teams. We’re getting better. We’re playing a lot of young guys. I don’t know. I think we’re close. I’m hoping it happens this year,” he said.

This year? Is not this year gone? Is not a 4-6 record a lost season?

“Our goal is to go win this one,” Holgorsen said, referring to Saturday’s game at Kansas. “Take a week off after that, get refreshed and go win another one, take a few weeks off, get refreshed and then go win a bowl game.”

Do that and you finish 7-6 with a three-game winning streak coming after having led in the second half against Texas, TCU, Texas Tech and Kansas State.

Close? Yes, that’s close, but it isn’t over the hump, maybe because they don’t yet have the power player at quarterback they need, maybe because they have been too inexperienced, relying too heavily on junior college players, transfers and freshmen.

Seeing at this level of college football, the difference between winning and losing isn’t always what it seems to be.

“The margin of error is very slim,” Holgorsen said. “When you play good football teams, you have to perform at a high level every week. If you don’t, you will get beat.”

And that’s just what’s happened with the Mountaineers, perhaps most obviously against Texas when they couldn’t put away a game they were a first down from winning.

“Who do you blame it on? I don’t know. I can give you a lot of excuses. The only one I am really going to give you is to put it on me,” Holgorsen said. “If I had the answer, I would have put it in place a long time ago.”

The one place Holgorsen won’t point a finger is at his players. That is not to say he believes they have played well or come up with plays at critical moments to keep disaster from striking.

It hasn’t been that, but they have given everything they possess.

“The one thing I’m thankful for is the players are attentive. They’re playing hard — I think you can all see that and appreciate that,” Holgorsen said. “They are getting out there and playing hard and it means something to them. I’ve never been part of a locker room that disappointed, which means they care and they’re trying.”

As long as that is going on, Holgorsen can live with it.

“I can sleep at night because of that,” he said. “It didn’t make that loss (to Texas) any easier. They’re trying hard. The coaches are trying hard. We remain united. We have a plan and we’re building something bigger than just lining up a team to beat Texas.”

But sooner or later, results have to come forth.

OK, you are in a down year, a season after you have graduated Geno Smith and Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey left a year early.

No one expected greatness after that, but they weren’t looking at .500 or below, either.

Holgorsen maintains he’s had improvement, that many of his young players like Tyler Anderson and Mario Alford and Daikiel Shorts have come on.

In the end, though, with the offense WVU plays, it comes to rest at the quarterback position, and if the quarterback can’t complete better than 60 percent of the passes, if he can’t turn third downs into first downs, if he can’t control the tempo of the game, winning becomes far more difficult than it should be.

In this case, Clint Trickett did not get to practice with the team until August, didn’t become a starting quarterback until the fifth game, and there just hasn’t been a chance to put things together the way they should be, the way they must be if you are to win more than you lose in a major conference like the Big 12.

Follow Bob Hertzel on Twitter @bhertzel.

1
Text Only
Bob Herzel
  • WVU #6 SHORTS -TS.jpg WVU opens practice with different feel: VIDEOS AND PHOTOS

    West Virginia University football coach Dana Holgorsen was happy with his team’s first practice of the 2014 season.
    Of course, he would note, “Everybody in the country has a good first day.”
    But somehow, this was different.
    Very different.

    August 1, 2014 9 Photos

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Social media adds another thing to watch for coaches

    As someone who has gotten himself in enough hot water with a misplaced Tweet, when West Virginia University quarterback Clint Trickett hit the send button on July 17 sending out to the cyberworld what should have remained there with him on the couch on which he was sitting, I could feel his pain.

    August 1, 2014

  • WVU basketball non-conference schedule released

    After playing challenging schedules along with the tough Big 12 road, West Virginia University has backed off some this season on its non-conference schedule that was released Thursday.
    West Virginia is coming off a 17-16 season in which it failed to reach the NCAA Tournament and lost to Georgetown in the first round of the NIT.

    August 1, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Must WVU defense carry offense in ’14?

    The other day the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette ran a story under the following headline:
    “In a year of change, must the Steelers’ offense carry the defense this year?”
    Reading that turned on a light.

    July 31, 2014

  • WVU takes first step today

    Perhaps the most used — and least factual — cliché in sports is as follows:
    “There’s no tomorrow.”
    Around these parts, however, tomorrow is what they are clinging to, while putting a new twist on the cliché, turning it to, “There’s no yesterday.”

    July 31, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Big 12 provides plenty of optimism

    This past week the Big 12 held its annual media gathering in Dallas and served up a heaping portion of optimism for the 2014 season that is now upon us, West Virginia University opening its preseason practices on Thursday.
    This is a time of year when no one has lost a game, not even Charlie Weis at Kansas, and it’s a time of year when opinions are more plentiful than tattoos in an NFL locker room.

    July 27, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: WVU needs White to follow in former receivers’ footsteps

    A year ago Clint Trickett took a lot of grief as the once potent West Virginia offense came unraveled, but there is more that than meets the eye.
    The criticism was not unfounded, of course, although behind each incomplete pass there was the pain Trickett was suffering through to throw it, his rotator cuff in need of surgery.

    July 26, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: O’Toole joins long list of eccentric WVU kickers, punters

    The star of the Big 12’s annual football media day wasn’t a star at all.
    He intrigued the media far more than Bob Stoops, the coach of preseason favorite Oklahoma, and more than Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty, the preseason player of the year.

    July 25, 2014

  • WVU, N.C. State to meet in football

    Following a trend of creating non-conference games against regional opponents, West Virginia University has reached agreement with North Carolina State to play a home-and-home football series in 2018 and 2019.
    The Mountaineers are scheduled to play N.C. State in Raleigh on Sept. 15, 2018, and then play host to the Wolfpack on Sept. 14, 2019.

    July 24, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: ‘Cheating pays’ remark should draw attention

    When Bob Bowlsby, the outspoken commissioner of the Big 12, presented his opening-day picture of the future of college sports in Dallas for the annual media day gathering, his bleak comments were not unexpected.

    July 24, 2014

House Ads
Featured Ads