By Bob Hertzel
For the Times West Virginian
Just two words, but an interesting question for West Virginia University coach Dana Holgorsen and his coaching staff.
His team is coming off a 73-42 defeat at Baylor on Saturday night, one of the school’s most humiliating defeats in history, giving up more points than any WVU team has allowed since Michigan beat the Mountaineers 130-0 in 1904.
Normally, when you lose a game like that you can’t wait to get back on the field to try and make amends, but WVU has a bye this week, not playing again until it takes on yet another ranked team in Texas Tech in Milan Puskar Stadium on Oct. 19.
How does Holgorsen approach this?
“Any time you lose it’s frustrating,” he admitted. “We need to regroup. We’ve been going hard for 10 straight weeks. That was a much fresher football team than we were. They were faster. It was very evident.”
You can’t be much fresher than was Baylor, having played but one game in 27 days. There was talk that they might be rusty, putting that to rest scoring on a long pass play three plays into the game and putting 28 points on the board in the first quarter.
The only thing that kept the Bears from getting 35 in the first quarter was that the clock ran out on them as they were driving for their fifth straight score, which came 20 seconds into the second quarter.
“We need some down time,” Holgorsen admitted.
But when you have just failed to cover a 27.5-point spread, even though the opponent played its first string only half the game, which comes first — time off or practice?
“Do you keep grinding them to get them better or try to regroup?” Holgorsen asked rhetorically. “We’ll try to do both. We’ll give them some time off; we’ll practice mid-week, and we’ll come back and have a good game week for Texas Tech.”
There are so many problems, beginning with the offensive line but also at quarterback, receiver and, after a long string of decent defensive performances, on defense that you really don’t know where to begin if you are Holgorsen.
Against Baylor, he put together an offensive game plan built around deep post patterns, plays that should have worked, but it was a game plan that last year’s team could have executed, not this year’s team.
“We made a few plays down there, but we didn’t make as many as we should have,” Holgorsen acknowledged, most of the plays being made by wide receiver Kevin White, who came of age with seven catches for 130 yards and two touchdowns.
“Any time you play a quarter’s defense they are going to bring the safeties down quick, which means you need to take shots downfield. We had plenty of opportunities to do that. We didn’t make good throws; we didn’t make good catches,” Holgorsen continued.
“We’re not equipped to make those throws and catches that you have to make at this point in time. We’ve got to get there, and hopefully we’ll get there soon.”
If you are not equipped to make such plays, it is sheer folly to install it as your game plan because the opposition doesn’t have to stop you; you are destined to stop yourself.
It’s no different than a major league baseball player trying to throw curveballs to a hitter because the scouting report says he can’t hit them when the pitcher doesn’t possess a curveball.
“We didn’t put our best foot forward, and I’m not happy about that,” Holgorsen said. “Any time you lose it’s frustrating, but the thing about it is — and I think the guys understand this — it counts as one loss.”
This one probably should have counted as two.
Follow Bob Hertzel on Twitter @bhertzel.