The Times West Virginian

Sports

November 12, 2013

WVU banged up after Texas thriller

MORGANTOWN — West Virginia has run out of options and Coach Dana Holgorsen let his team know in no uncertain terms that they must win their final two games of the season or go without a bowl game for the first time since Rich Rodriguez’s first season as head coach in 2001.

“We talked about it. We held a quick team meeting and I told the team I was proud of their effort. Their effort was phenomenal. Their fight was phenomenal. I was proud of them,” he said Monday during the Big 12 football coaches conference call.

The Mountaineers had dropped a heartwrenching 47-40 overtime game to Texas on Saturday night before a sold-out crowd at Mountaineer Field, a game they had multiple opportunities to win.

“They were disappointed. Emotionally and physically, they were worn, so we made it pretty quick,” Holgorsen said.

There really wasn’t much to say.

It is now win or there will be no bowl. Two games remain, Saturday at Kansas and in three weeks at home against Iowa State.

Both teams are winless in the Big 12, meaning WVU figures to be favored, but the Mountaineers have found ways to lose games they could have and should have won while going 4-6 through the first 10 games.

“At this point, we got to start talking about winning the next one to get us to a bowl game,” Holgorsen said. “That will be used as motivation this week. If we can get the victory this week, we will take the same approach in three weeks against Iowa State in order to get to a bowl.”

In the situation WVU finds itself, the bowl is neither for prestige, for the Pinstripe Bowl does not carry much prestige with it, and it isn’t for profit, either.

But an extra three weeks of practice with a young team that needs to grow and make decisions over the offseason could be crucial to next year’s success, so make no doubt this team will be pressed to win both of its final two games.

As has been the case for much of the season, Holgorsen is in a wait and see mode at quarterback.

Clint Trickett has been the starter but he got banged around big time by Texas and left with what seemed to be a minor head injury.

Trickett’s status this week is uncertain.

“It’s all based on practice,” Holgorsen said. “He came in. He was alert. He was thumbs up. He was in the meetings.”

Those are all plus signs.

“There’s a little bit of a progression he has to do any time there’s a head injury,” Holgorsen said. “They have to do some non-contact stuff prior to releasing him. I wouldn’t anticipate him being a contact guy (today), but at this point in the season everyone is a non-contact guy on Tuesday.”

It isn’t only at quarterback where Holgorsen has problems.

“Injuries are starting to mount, but they are for everyone,” he said. “You have to find out who’s available and practice with them. You go with the guy who gives you the best chance to play.”

That could mean that Paul Millard will quarterback this coming week, as he did going in for Trickett after his injury.

“I really was happy with how Paul went in and played. His ball security obviously was terrible — we need to work on that — but as far as running the offense and giving us a chance to win, he did pretty good,” Holgorsen said.

Millard fumbled four times and threw a pair of interceptions, including one on the goal line on the final play of the game.

Follow Bob Hertzel on Twitter @bhertzel.

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