The Times West Virginian

Bob Herzel

October 27, 2013

HERTZEL COLUMN- Mountaineers have a ways to go in Big 12

MORGANTOWN — It was as if Oliver Luck were clairvoyant.

The West Virginia University athletic director was on his segment of the endless pregame radio show, and he was discussing the Mountaineers’ place in the Big 12.

“There’s no question I think we can be successful,” he said. “I’m convinced we can win and be competitive in this conference, but we’ve got a ways to go still.”

May one suggest, at this point, that it is a long ways to go, having lost 11 of the last 16 games, seven of those losses by 21 or more points.

Luck looked back to two of the Mountaineers’ losses in Big 12 play this year, Oklahoma and Texas Tech.

“They were winnable games,” he suggested.

And, indeed they were, losing to the Sooners just 16-7 and blowing an 11-point lead in the second half to Texas Tech.

But, in the end, the result was the same, just as it would be about five hours later when Kansas State walked away with a 35-12 victory in another game that one might brand winnable despite the one-sidedness of the final score.

So why were games that were winnable consistently winding up in the lost column?

“You’ve got to play smart,” Luck said, not in answer to that question but as a statement of fact. “NFL game are often won by great plays. College games are won by mistakes. The stupid things we do have put us in a hole.”

He didn’t mention coaching, didn’t mention players.

That should not be read as an indictment of any single person or segment of the team, but make no doubt it should not be taken by anyone connected with the West Virginia football program as a compliment.

Certainly, the coaches are on the spot, led by the head coach.

A week ago an indefensible decision to go for a fourth-and-14 in the first quarter trailing 10-0 to Texas Tech blew up in Dana Holgorsen’s face, and certainly a fake field goal try in the second quarter on fourth-and-7 at the K-State 9 on Saturday, leading by two points at 9-7, was no different.

Holgorsen maintains the fake was not called from the sideline, but that they had seen something on an earlier field goal that made them think a fake could work and that they told holder Mike Molinari if he saw that look again he had to communicate it.

“We obviously didn’t get through to Mike what we needed to get through to him. It wasn’t the correct look. It wasn’t the correct call,” Holgorsen said.

Work or not work it isn’t the right play when you gamble that a holder can run 5 yards for a first down rather than simply widening the gap beyond a field goal and put yourself in a position where should K-State score a touchdown they would lead only 14-12 … leaving you only a field goal from the lead.

Holgorsen, of course, was asked about it after the game and this was his explanation.

Let’s us be totally fair and honest about this. That play did not cost the football game.

Not with as many passes that were dropped, as many as were overthrown, as many coverages that were blown in the course of this afternoon.

The emphasis of late, as this season has slipped further away, has been on just having some improvement.

Yet, even though the coaches maintain they see some, one suspects they are looking through the world’s most powerful microscope to see it.

This game, in fact, was a replay of last week’s game against Texas Tech when WVU fell apart in the second half and especially in the fourth quarter.

And, to take it back even further, it was a replay of last year’s game against Kansas State, a 55-14 drubbing that came again on the heels of a dismal performance against Texas Tech.

In that game Collin Klein, the K-State quarterback, completed 19 of 23 passes for 334 yards.

This year the combined passing totals of Daniel Sams and Mark Waters were 18 of 21 for 291 yards

That is 37 of 44 passes for 625 yards, seven of the completions for touchdowns.

A year ago Tyler Lockett set a school record nine receptions for 194 yards and two TDs.

Are you looking for improvement? You got it here. Lockett caught only eight passes for 119 yards and three touchdowns.

The point is, there’s something seriously wrong here, and it’s awfully hard to buy that it’s because WVU is in the Big 12. Remember, this is a school that went into bowl games and beat Georgia, beat Oklahoma, beat Clemson.

You can’t say that the team that beat WVU on Saturday was better than many of the Big East teams that they played over the years … no, once Miami and Virginia Tech left there wasn’t Oklahoma and Texas in the Big East, but there was Kansas State and Kansas and Iowa State and TCU.

Right now you have a team that wouldn’t have been able to have won when the Big East was at its best and that even in a Big East with Louisville and Cincinnati would not have been a championship team.

Follow Bob Hertzel on Twitter @bhertzel.

1
Text Only
Bob Herzel
  • 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

  • Holgorsen’s program hits turning point

    You can almost sense, as you watch West Virginia University football coach Dana Holgorsen sit before the gathered Big 12 media contingent answering questions in the Omni Hotel in Arlington, Texas, that he senses his program has reached a turning point.

    July 23, 2014

  • Big 12 Media Days Foo_time(1).jpg Trickett’s play key factor for Mountaineers’ success

     In the end, it comes down to the quarterback.
    Always has with Dana Holgorsen, always will.
    Quarterback is the offense with the West Virginia University coach. When he does well, the team wins – almost always.
    When he does poorly, the team doesn’t stand much of a chance.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Saban, family happy at Alabama

    Alabama football coach Nick Saban, whose team opens the season against West Virginia in Atlanta on Aug. 30, denied receiving or turning down this offseason an offer of $100 million to coach Texas, indicating he planned to finish his career as coach of the Crimson Tide.

    July 18, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: ‘Quarterback child prodigy’ comes to WVU amidst very high expectations

    Has West Virginia football coach Dana Holgorsen finally put the arrow he needs in his quiver with the commitment received Wednesday from high school quarterback David Sills, who is a rather extraordinary story and may also just be a rather extraordinary quarterback?

    July 18, 2014

  • WVU kicker Molinari ‘All-American boy’

    West Virginia kicker Mike Molinari may not be an All-American but he is an All-American boy.
    He was honored for that on Wednesday when the Allstate Insurance Company and the American Football Coaches Association announced the West Virginia redshirt senior kicker/punter Michael Molinari is a nominee for the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team.

    July 16, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Smallwood puts future in jeopardy

    The last thing West Virginia’s struggling football program needed as twilight was setting on Bastille Day in Morgantown was to have one of its own whisked off to the North Central Regional Jail on a fugitive warrant from another state, especially a player who had figured to play a key role in the resurrection of a program gone bad.

    July 16, 2014

  • WVU player arrested in Delaware case

    West Virginia University running back Wendell Smallwood has been arrested by university police and is being held at North Central Regional Jail awaiting extradition on a felony warrant out of Delaware.

    July 15, 2014

  • WVU hoping to add two non-conference contests

    West Virginia is nearing the completion of deals to play football games against long-time rival Virginia Tech, now in the Atlantic Coast Conference, and Tennessee of the Southeastern Conference, according to a source close to the negotiations.
    An announcement is expected shortly.

    July 15, 2014

House Ads
Featured Ads