The Times West Virginian

October 20, 2013

HERTZEL COLUMN: Holgorsen: WVU lacked will to win

By Bob Hertzel
Times West Virginian

MORGANTOWN — There were two comments made by the coaches in the aftermath of Texas Tech’s gritty come-from-behind 37-27 victory over West Virginia University on a cold, damp Saturday afternoon that spoke volumes about the fact that the Red Raiders are now 7-0 and West Virginia 3-4 and wondering if it will even be bowl-qualified this season.

The first comment came from the winning coach Kliff Kingsbury, a first-year head coach who seems to be destined for greatness.

To be honest, the comment was made about his freshman quarterback, Davis Webb, but it well could have been made about his entire football team that had come into a very hostile environment, fallen behind by 11 points heading into the waning moments of the third quarter and somehow regrouped and won.

“Fortune favors the bold,” said Kingsbury.

As he was saying that, almost directly above him in the Puskar Center’s team room, West Virginia’s Dana Holgorsen was making a different statement, this one about his team and one his team neither would agree with or like.

“We didn’t have the fight and the will to want to win,” he said.

“It’s not the effort. The will to win was not there. You could see it on the sideline. The crowd was great. The second quarter and third quarter was tremendous. When we were up (27-16), we didn’t have the will to knock them out. They had the will to want to win a little bit more than we did, and that disturbs me.”

Let us first go back to Kingsbury’s point, for it certainly was key to the game.

Webb is a true freshman, a kid who had played in every game this season but was making just his second start. More experienced quarterbacks have been known to come into Morgantown and come apart in this setting, but he was calm and cool and, yes, bold.

The game, you see, was his to win or lose.

“We talk about it all the time. Fortune favors the bold,” Kingsbury said. “We’re not going to leave it up to anyone else. We knew it was up to him to make good throws, and today he did that.”

Indeed he did. Webb completed 36 of 50 passes for 462 yards and two touchdowns without an interception.

“I can’t believe the efficiency with which that guys throws the ball,” said WVU defensive coordinator Keith Patterson. “It looks like he’s been the starting quarterback since Aug. 1.”

Webb did have something special to work with in the form of tight end Jace Amaro, 6-foot, 5-inches and 260 pounds of a lineman disguised as maybe the nation’s best tight end.

Amaro was no secret to WVU coming into the game. A year ago he caught five passes for 156 yards and a touchdown against the Mountaineers before going out for the season with an injury.

In this game he caught nine passes for 136 yards and both of Webb’s TDs.

“He said to put it on his shoulders for the second half, so that’s what I did,” Kingsbury said. “I told him we were going to get a lot of balls to him. When they went up by 11, the ball went his way and he kept making plays. His size, speed and determination are a deadly combination.”

“You can’t cover him. Even when you do cover him, he still makes plays,” Holgorsen said.

“He’s a matchup nightmare,” Patterson said.

Between Webb and Amaro the Mountaineers were outmanned, but still they had used their run game with Dreamius Smith scoring two touchdowns and Charles Sims one – on a swing pass – to lead entering the fourth quarter.

But that was when whatever had been carrying the Mountaineers disappeared.

Blocks they were making earlier they could not make. Passes they were catching earlier, they could not catch. Tackles they had eluded now became losses.

“They had enough fight and will to make enough plays to win the game in the end. We did not have that,” Holgorsen said. “We felt good mid-third quarter when we were up 27-16 but the game wasn’t over. We refused to make a play on offense, defense or special teams the last quarter and a half. We refused to coach well enough to win the game. That will be addressed.”

Even if it is, it is too late to save this season. It might make a difference moving forward … and that is about the only way for this team to go now.

Follow Bob Hertzel on Twitter @bhertzel.