The Times West Virginian

Sports

November 3, 2012

HERTZEL COLUMN-Loss rips heart out of WVU

MORGANTOWN — Mostly, they said, there was quiet — deadly, spooky quiet — in the West Virginia University locker room after Saturday’s 39-38 double-overtime loss to TCU, the loudest quiet you never heard.

Every so often, the players admitted, there would an expletive expressed in a rather disgusted, angry way, but mostly it was as you’d expect it to be from a team that has gone from a potential national champion to what now can only be termed a national “chumpion.”

Losses, they would all admit later, are part of the game. Disappointments are part of the life of anyone who has every snapped on a helmet — even a gray one — or laced on a pair of hockey skates or put on a pair of baseball knickers.

It is as much a part of sport as victory because, as anyone knows, a team that pops the champagne cork does so at the expense of his opponent, and the home run hero celebrates while the pitcher who threw the pitch spends his life in some kind of athletic purgatory.

So it is with a WVU team that has gone from highly ranked to simply rank. A season born in the expectation of a Big 12 championship, maybe a national championship, has become nothing but an October snowstorm in Preston County.

WVU, the football, has suffered its own power outage but instead of being waist deep in snow it finds itself waist deep in disappointment on the inside and, quite honestly, in ridicule from the outside.

Three straight losses — those to Texas Tech and Kansas State thorough whippings, but at least the kind that you can accept — hang around the Mountaineers necks.

The third one, though, coming Saturday in double overtime to a TCU team that was no better than WVU, although no worse, was the kind of loss that would rip your heart out.

“It hurts. I can’t lie,” said quarterback Geno Smith, who has gone from a Heisman Trophy candidate to now looking at hoping to get honorable mention at quarterback in the Big 12.

“It’s a hurtful feeling. Right now we’re in a bad three-game losing streak and we have to find a way to pull of this. We have to keep our heads up and not look into the past, not let it beat us twice, three times, four times,” he continued, adding, “We have to regain the confidence we had earlier.”

In truth Smith is not the most emotional of WVU players. He has a no-nonsense, sensible approach to the game, understands that it has its ups and its down and has been on both sides of it.

In this game, this game they could have won, OK, should have won, Smith tried to remain above the fray, understanding the mechanics of the games people play.

“It’s college football,” he said. It’s college football … at its finest. Those things happen every week to a different team. This Saturday it was us. It’s not really going to get to be an emotional roller coaster to me. I keep it in perspective. It’s a game. I love this game with everything in me. I give it 100 percent, but when I leave that field I keep telling myself, it’s just a football game.”

That will keep him from losing his sanity, perhaps, but it is not the attitude this stunned crowd of 52,322 — a crowd that was as disappointing as it was disappointed — as it left the stadium as silent and as stunned as were the players.

How many times had they won this game, riding the play of an improved defense that almost overcame an offense without teeth and special teams that at times were downright embarrassing save for one Tavon Austin punt return?

There was the touchdown that 74-yard punt return produced that gave the Mountaineers a seven-point lead with 3:19 to play, only to have the Horned Frogs come back on some miracle play that involved a quarterback scrambling, a wide receiver being knocked out of bounds, then left uncovered so he could catch a 94-yard scoring pass with just 1:28 to play.

Then there was Smith hitting Bailey with a 25-yard scoring pass on the first play of the second overtime after both teams had failed to score on their first extra possession, only to have TCU coach Gary Patterson come forth with a reverse pass the Mountaineers had not seen that wound up with receiver Brandon Carter throwing to a wide open Corey Fuller on the Horned Frogs first play to move to within a point.

 “It was a trick play,” defensive coordinator Joe DeForest would say later. “They tricked us. It’s like magic.”

That hurt, but the Patterson had had enough of this overtime stuff.

He was going to win or lose the game right there, going for two points.

“I’m one of those people who believes you play someone on the road, you have to go take ball games. If you try to just play around, you see what happens, like the punt return,” he said.

So, he let Trevone Boykin throw it on a rollout and Josh Boyce went down to get it at shoetop level, the officials ruling it a catch and the catch surviving a replay look as a stunned silence fell over the stadium.

Now what? The Mountaineers still need a win to become bowl eligible and are looking at Oklahoma State on the road and Oklahoma at home, the Big 12s second and third best teams, in coming weeks before having to go on the road to Iowa State.

They could play that game at 5-5, and if that’s the case, what will be the attitude, the mentality, the confidence and, yes, the lineup that coach Dana Holgorsen puts out on the field?

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

1
Text Only
Sports
  • Kicker sees second chances after gondola accident

    Maikon Bonani knows all about second chances.
    The native of Brazil is back with the Titans for a second year with the kicker job wide open for the taking, and he’s the only guy in training camp with any NFL experience if kicking in a preseason game counts.

    August 1, 2014

  • Steelers sign Suisham through 2018 season

    Shaun Suisham doesn’t seem to mind kicking at Heinz Field.

    August 1, 2014

  • A healthy Trickett gives WVU chance to win

    You might recall that Pat White’s career as West Virginia quarterback began when Adam Bednarik was injured in the Louisville game of White’s freshman year, opening the door for him to come on and lead one of the greatest comebacks in school history.

    August 1, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Lingering injury keeps Barber out as season begins

    He was off on the sidelines on the first day of practice, where he’ll be for quite a while now, wearing the red jersey that signifies a player is unable to practice due to injury.

    August 1, 2014

  • Post 17 makes short work of Wheeling to advance to nightcap

    Post 17 Fairmont scattered 16 hits and plated double-digit runs in a 10-2 rout of Post 1 Wheeling Friday afternoon at Hawley Field.

    August 1, 2014

  • 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

  • Post 17 #18-Post 29 catche copy.jpg Post 17 picks up much-needed win over Elkins

    After a rather sloppy Area tournament, Post 17 Fairmont managed to turn things around Thursday afternoon at Hawley Field in Morgantown, staying alive with a 4-2 win over Elkins in the American Legion state baseball tournament.
    While it’s usually hitting that gets Fairmont by, Thursday it was the pitching and the defense.

    August 1, 2014 5 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

  • FURFARI COLUMN: Bobby Bowden won the bad-and-good battle with rival Lou Holtz

    The recent announcement that West Virginia University is resuming a football relationship with North Carolina State triggered a most memorable bad-news, good-news battle.
    It was between two legendary coaches, WVU’s Bobby Bowden and N.C. State’s Lou Holtz back there in the 1970s.

    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

Featured Ads
NDN Sports
House Ads
Auto Racing Breaking News
Auto Racing Standings