The Times West Virginian

Bob Herzel

July 28, 2013

HERTZEL COLUMN: Bitter taste of defeat can motivate

MORGANTOWN — There is something in defeat that always lingers, a scar that serves as a reminder of just how distasteful losing is. Long after the glow of victory disappears from the memory the anguish of a loss hauntingly remains for athletes.

This not a bad thing.

It serves to motivate and inspire, and that is just what it has done for West Virginia as it heads into camp on Thursday.

In the rubble of the way WVU’s 2012 season ended, the year’s peak has already been forgotten. There was a time when the Mountaineers, you may recall, were 5-0 and Geno Smith was the Heisman Trophy leader. West Virginia had already scored 70 points in one game, 69 in another and Game 5 was supposed to define the year.

It was the Mountaineers’ first Big 12 road game, their first trip to Austin, Texas, to play before 101,000 fans and a Longhorn named Bevo.

They entered the game ranked No. 8, about to jump to No. 5, while Texas was No. 11.

Andrew Buie rushed for a career-high 207 yards, finishing the day off with his second touchdown with 1:18 left but there was no time for celebrating then as quarterback David Ash led Texas to another TD to put Texas within three points.

Only the recovery of an onsides kick by Nana Kyeremeh with 15 seconds to play could clinch it and set off a wild celebration … too wild, too much, too early says Quinton Spain.

At 6-5 and 335 pounds, people listen when Quinton Spain speaks, and during Big 12 Media Day last week he was analyzing what had happened to that great start that turned from razzle and dazzle to the fizzle that come with a 2-6 finish.

“Last year, after we beat Texas, I think we celebrated too much and forgot about the rest of the season,” Spain said. “This year we have to be more respectful and all that stuff.”

It’s tough when you’re a kid to be respectful and all that stuff in this day and age.

There was a time when a celebratory dance after a sack or a touchdown would get a player benched.

Today it gets him time on SportsCenter, and that equates into national TV time, which helps recruiting.

It also, however, equates into celebrating individual accomplishments, as if the blockers who opened the hole or the nose guard who drew the double team didn’t matter.

Geno Smith, Tavon Austin, Stedman Bailey were breaking records and being celebrated across the state, across the nation.

It was too much, too soon, and it would come back to haunt the Mountaineers.

It drove coach Dana Holgorsen in a new direction for this season.

“He expects a team, no individuals,” Spain said. “Our whole off-season was team, everything team. Everything we do we have to do as a team.”

“We have an underdog mentality for the whole season, and we plan to use it,” said senior defensive end Will Clarke. “We can’t change what happened last season. We can’t change the past. We can change the present and the future.”

It has to be that way. Whereas a year ago there were potential All-Americans everywhere you looked and where there were even thoughts of how to display Geno Smith’s Heisman Trophy, this year there isn’t even an all-conference player in sight.

No one, not even Holgorsen, knows who will start at quarterback because there’s no one with any real experience in his offense there, and there is no one who knows who will start at running back because there are three guys with all the proven requirements.

But no one doubts that Holgorsen will put it all together by time the season comes.

“His track record speaks for itself. He always has a successful offense. The quarterback situation will take care of itself. There won’t be much of a hassle there. Our offense will be fine. We have a lot of new additions who will be able to blossom,” Clarke said.

And it all begins this week.

Email Bob Hertzel at bhertzel@hotmail.com or follow him on Twitter @bhertzel.

1
Text Only
Bob Herzel
  • HERTZEL COLUMN- Summer, Alabama will be used to get WVU’s mind right

    The ink had barely dried on the final reports out of West Virginia’s spring practice when thoughts turned forward toward the lazy, hazy days of late summer, days that will bring us into football season with a game that can either change the entire image of WVU football or sour it even further.

    April 21, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Watson tees off a new century at The Greenbrier

    You knew this was going to be one of those unpredictable, memorable days when you drove into the Greenbrier Resort and headed to the Old White Golf Course and found the best parking place in the joint.
    As Bob Uecker would say, right there in the front rooooow.

    April 20, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Under pressure, NCAA decides to change rules

    At first glance, it appears that they do not go hand-in-hand, a pair of rules changes the NCAA’s Legislative Council approved this week, sending them off for what seems to be smooth sailing toward becoming rules.

    April 18, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: WVU gymnast hopes to stick her final landing

    The reaction, one suspects, was the same as most people who see either a picture of West Virginia University gymnast Hope Sloanhoffer or meet her for the first time in person — a quick double take, maybe even stumbling over the first few words of an introduction.

    April 17, 2014

  • Bussie looks forward to WNBA

    On Tuesday, the weather turned cold, the wind blew and amongst the raindrops that fell a few snowflakes fluttered quietly to Earth.
    It was as if it was a celebration of Asya Bussie being drafted on Monday night by the Minnesota Lynx, champions of the WNBA, with the third selection of the second round, the 15th overall pick of the draft.

    April 16, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Jackie Robinson’s impact extends beyond baseball

    It is Jackie Robinson Day as I sit here writing this today, and I feel as though I am doing it in a world gone mad.
    Every player in Major League Baseball wore No. 42 on Tuesday in honor of Jackie Robinson, the man who took racism’s best shot and integrated the game that was known then as the National Pastime even though it was as white a Ku Klux Klan robe.

    April 16, 2014

  • Gyorko, Padres agree to extension

    Jedd Gyorko, who hasn’t hit much of anything with a .178 start on this season, hit the jackpot on Monday, signing a six-year contract extension with the San Diego Padres for $35 million with a one-year club option at $13 million.

    April 15, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN- Spring game showed defense has improved

    From Dana Holgorsen’s viewpoint, which was standing right behind the offense, West Virginia’s Gold-Blue Spring Game on Saturday was a rousing success for it showed very little of what the Mountaineers will be in this coming season, probably not even showcasing the man who will direct the offense in the quarterback position.

    April 15, 2014

  • WVU signs guard; Adrian arrested for DUI

    There was something good and something bad for West Virginia men’s basketball coach Bob Huggins this past weekend as Kansas junior college player Tarik Phillip committed to play for the Mountaineers but rising sophomore Nathan Adrian was charged with Under 21 DUI after he was stopped at 1:20 a.m. Sunday for an expired registration sticker.

    April 15, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN- Garrison still proving he can carry the ball

    The running back raves from the West Virginia coaching this spring have been directly mostly toward Wendell Smallwood, and rest assured he earned every one of them with his versatility, but it was a reborn running back who well may have taken the biggest jump up the depth chart.

    April 14, 2014

House Ads
Featured Ads