It was one of the saddest sights of a season filled with them.
Kansas running back James Sims had just broken into the West Virginia secondary and safety Darwin Cook, the surest and most prolific of Mountaineer tacklers, had a shot at getting to him but couldn’t do it.
It was the kind of effort that you did not associate with Cook, quickly lending credence to a tweet from Mike Casazza of the Charleston Daily Mail from the game a short while earlier that read:
“And I’m not sure Darwin Cook is healthy.”
At another point the same Mr. Casazza noted that he hadn’t felt Cook had been on top of his game physically for two weeks.
Sure enough, as Cook took off in pursuit of Sims, he did so in obvious pain, limping visibly.
This, of course, was the game-breaking 68-yard touchdown run by Sims and in the glum aftermath of the game, defensive coordinator Keith Patterson was quoted as saying:
“We had Cookie on the field and obviously he couldn’t play. That’s probably my fault. You know Cookie — he’s not going to tell you the full story. He wants to be on the field.”
He would be there no longer in this game, for his was a damaged groin, one that coach Dana Holgorsen said on Monday would have kept him out of a game this week were it not a bye but which he expects to be healed in time for next week’s season-ending Senior Day matchup with Iowa State at 4 p.m. at Milan Puskar Stadium.
Certainly you would hope that Cook would get to end his career on a happier note than that, for he surely earned it.
Not always the apple of Holgorsen’s eye, Cook had to learn what it took to be a football player and had to earn his way to the point that he became one of the more memorable safeties to play at WVU, teaming with young Karl Joseph for two years to be one of the hardest hitting pairs of safeties ever to play in tandem at the school.
This season the two were punishing, Cook now leading the Mountaineers with 74 tackles and Joseph, while down from being the team’s leading tackler as a freshman a year ago, owning 59 tackles — an incredible 50 of them unassisted.
But all of this caught up with both of them, as it inevitably had to.
“He broke down,” Holgorsen said of Cook on Monday, “and Karl’s the same way because both those kids play hard now. They play with a lot of effort and leave it out on the field. Darwin’s groin got him.”
The groin got Cook and the Mountaineers, and he wasn’t the only one.
“We’re a little bit up and he goes out in the first quarter. Then (Daryl) Worley’s shin goes out and you lose him for two quarters.”
This is why Holgorsen has been crying out for more depth.
“We’re not where we want to be. You need snaps. You need depth. When guys play 92 snaps a game at the level Karl plays, it’s going to catch up to you; it’s going to catch up to Darwin,” he said.
“You put Jarrod Harper in there and it’s a different level
because of Jarrod’s age, but Jarrod went in there and got good snaps and played well. He’s going to be a good player for us,” Holgorsen said.
The key is the words “going to,” for Cook already is.
In fact, when they get together in 20 years to talk about the good old days, they will talk a lot about Darwin Cook and what he meant to WVU back there when it dismantled Clemson, 70-33, in the Orange Bowl at the end of Holgorsen’s first season.
You might recall when Clemson was about to score just before the half to take a solid lead in the game, only to fumble the ball just before crossing in for a TD, Cook sneaked in the back end, yanked the ball out of the pile and went off 99 or so yards in the opposite direction for the score that turned the game around.
As memorable as that play was, what made it even more memorable was the way it ended, Cook going across the goal line and nearly decapitating Obie, the Orange Bowl mascot, a rather interesting thing to do in all honesty as Obie is really nothing but a big orange head.
Cook, being ever the gentleman, approached the fallen mascot following the game, only to learned that this was an orange of the feminine gender.
“I didn’t know you were a girl. I apologize,” he said.
Despite what transpired at Kansas, Cook owes us no apologies like that. We just hope he can put it all together one more time to have a sentimental goodbye on Senior Day.
Follow Bob Hertzel on Twitter @bhertzel.
It was one of the saddest sights of a season filled with them.
East’s Postlewait, North’s Latocha toss no-hitters
Tori Postlewait made a deal with her great-uncle, Kenny Carpenter, before her freshman season.
If the Bees’ pitcher tossed a no-hitter, Carpenter promised to give her $20.
Well, it took four years, but it’s finally time for Postlewait’s great-uncle to pay up.
East tennis splits with Polar Bears
Fairmont Senior and East Fairmont split a pair of tennis matches Thursday, with Fairmont Senior winning the boys’ match and East Fairmont taking the girls’ competition.
In the Bees’ 6-1 girls’ victory, Cara Laswell took second singles, 8-2. Erica Gorman won third singles, 8-1. And Carrington Reese won fourth singles, 8-3.
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.
McCutchen, Alvarez lead Pirates over Brewers
Andrew McCutchen hit his first homer of the season and drove in three runs, Pedro Alvarez had a three-run shot and pinch-hitter Josh Harrison broke a tie with a long ball in the seventh inning as the Pittsburgh Pirates handed the Milwaukee Brewers their first road loss, 11-2 on Thursday night.
Means, WVU baseball shut out Oklahoma
Junior left-hander John Means of the WVU baseball team threw eight shutout innings and the Mountaineers had a five-run first inning en route to a 7-0 victory over Oklahoma on Thursday evening at L. Dale Mitchell Park.
The Mountaineers (18-15, 3-6 Big 12) broke a six-game Big 12 losing streak after being swept by TCU and Oklahoma State in back-to-back weekends. WVU had 16 hits and did not make an error for the second-straight game.
FURFARI COLUMN: Dr. Graber disagrees with Gee’s stance on Turnbull firing
Dr. Stephen Graber, an associate professor at the West Virginia University School of Medicine, is among the latest WVU teachers to deplore Oliver Luck’s firing of veteran wrestling coach Craig Turnbull.
He raised some significant questions about that issue last Monday in a meeting of the WVU Faculty Senate.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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