The Times West Virginian

Breaking News

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
  • University hands Huskies first loss; East edges Elkins

    The mercy rule has been a familiar part of North Marion’s softball season.
    Through the first seven games, the Huskies regularly pounded their opponents with stingy defense, sharp pitching and timely hitting. Rarely did a game go all seven innings for the previously undefeated team.

    April 17, 2014

  • Huggins signs junior college guard

    Coach Bob Huggins completed his 2014-15 West Virginia University recruiting class on Wednesday and deemed it a success after receiving a signed letter of intent from junior college guard Tarik Phillip.
    Phillip joins Jevon Carter of Maywood, Ill., and Daxter Miles of Baltimore’s Dunbar High and out of Notre Dame Prep in Massachusetts in the 2014-15 recruiting class.

    April 17, 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

  • Pirates shut out by Reds’ Cueto, 4-0

    Johnny Cueto was on his game, and the only thing that the Pirates could do was watch.
    Cueto pitched his third career shutout against the team that beat him in the NL wild card game, and Joey Votto hit a two-run homer that led the Cincinnati Reds over the Pirates 4-0 Wednesday for their first winning series this season.

    April 17, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN: Comparing pay of coaches and professors

    Stringing together some odds and ends which may be of interest to you:
    • A beautiful lady came up to my table last Sunday at brunch in the Village of Heritage Point’s main dining room with a message.

    April 17, 2014

  • COLUMN: Extend summer practices without over-extending athletes

    Last week we told you about a proposal that would extend the summer practice period for West Virginia high schools.
    It’s already cleared the West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission Board of Control. Now it’s up to the West Virginia Board of Education to decide if the current three-week window should be expanded by five weeks.

    April 16, 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

  • Pirates finish off suspended game, fall in nightcap

    Mike Leake doubled and hit a two-run homer Tuesday night, ending Gerrit Cole’s winning streak and leading the Cincinnati Reds to a 7-5 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates that completed two days full of homers and delays.

    April 16, 2014

  • WVU’s Harlee named Big 12 Scholar-Athlete

    The Big 12 Conference announced its Scholar-Athlete of the Year recipients for the 2014 winter sport season, and West Virginia University senior Jess Harlee earns the honor for women’s basketball.
    Harlee was selected as the award winner based on a vote of each respective sport’s head coaching group, with coaches not permitted to vote for their own student-athletes.

    April 16, 2014

Featured Ads
NDN Sports
House Ads
NCAA Breaking News
NCAA Photos