The Times West Virginian

WVU Sports

November 10, 2012

WVU hoping for road turnaround

MORGANTOWN — If West Virginia University is going to turn its season around it must do so in today’s game at Oklahoma State, a game which will in some ways seem like an intrasquad scrimmage and in other ways like the Super Bowl.

The opponent, you see, runs the same offense, the same defense, the same special team schemes. It is a team that just two seasons ago employed Dana Holgorsen as offensive coordinator to put in its high-powered offense, a team from who Holgorsen’s defensive coordinator Joe DeForest brought the defensive and special team schemes.

“It’s like we’re looking in a mirror because what we do offensively, what we do defensively and what we do from a special teams standpoint is so similar,” Holgorsen, now WVU’s second-year head coach, admitted this week as he prepared for today’s 3:30 p.m. meeting in Stillwater. “As you know, there’s a lot of crossover and a lot of familiarity. We know a lot about their players and their schemes, and they know a lot about our schemes.”

It is almost as if all those X’s and O’s matter not, which must break Holgorsen’s heart, for he is an X and O man.

But this is different.

“There aren’t a lot of secrets that exist. It comes down to motivation and determination and what team gives greater effort,” Holgorsen said.

That they are inbred may matter in the preparation, but once the coin is flipped and the kickoff comes, all of that goes out the window.

“Once you get into a game, it’s not much different than any other game,” Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said. “They are much more familiar with us than we are with them. They’ve been here. We only know them. We don’t know their players. Once the game gets going, in most cases you actually forget who’s on the other side.”

The two teams come in with 5-3 records, Oklahoma State, however, owning a 3-2 Big 12 record, while WVU stands at 2-3 and is looking at a meeting with Oklahoma next week.

This is why Holgorsen is demanding a new level of effort, one he says has been lacking.

“We’re playing with nine or 10 guys from an effort standpoint,” he said. “If you have eight or nine that are playing with tremendous effort and one or two who aren’t, then you’re playing with eight or nine. We have to play better together. Trust in the system and trust in people being in the right spots is a big thing.”

The result of a lack of effort from certain people leads to a lack of concentration, a lack of execution, even from those who are giving effort but untrusting of their teammates. It showed in the loss to TCU when nine of Geno Smith’s passes were dropped.

“How do we explain nine dropped balls? We haven’t had nine dropped balls all year. That’s just execution. We have to execute, and it’s harder to execute when you play tougher defenses. You have to elevate your game, and that’s coaching. We have to get it out of them. When things get harder, we have to play better.”

After five straight victories, each engineered on an unstoppable offense, things have come apart on both sides of the ball.

“You have to execute, which means finishing blocks, running routes, running full speed, going through your reads offensively, checking into the proper run based on what coverage you get, throwing and catching, making the catch and getting up field,” Holgorsen said.

“Defensively, it means being in the right spot and having a chance to make the tackle. If you have a chance to pull the trigger as a quarterback, then you better pull the trigger. If you have a chance defensively to strip the ball, strip the ball. If you have a chance to make a play in the air, you need to make the play.”

That, of course, falls squarely on the players, but there is a coaching aspect to it that cannot be overlooked or minimized.

“Our job is to get them in the proper mindset to play determined, motivated and with tremendous effort and to get the right people out there and try to put them in the right situation,” Holgorsen said. “At that point, hopefully we’ve coached our guys to be able to pull the trigger and make a play.”

Geno Smith, whose Heisman Trophy chances are now gone, is philosophical in his approach to what has happened.

“It’s how the game goes,” he said. “You can’t be perfect. You can’t win them all, unfortunately. I would like to win every game I played, but I haven’t done so. It’s about focusing on getting better and not losing focus on what the goal is, which is to win every game, one by one, not looking ahead, not looking behind.”

The past is gone, the three losses are there for all history to see. WVU has rediscover what it had through the season’s first games.

“We just have to go out there on Saturday with the mentality that we are going to score. We have to be confident. We have to play fast, and we have to play hard,” Smith said. “Things haven’t changed for us. I still think that we have a really good offense. We are making progress, working guys in and out of the rotation as far as receivers, backs and offensive linemen. We are going to have fresh bodies out there and are going to be ready to play.”

The Mountaineers go into the game unsure if the Cowboys will use freshman Wes Lunt or junior Clint Chelf at quarterback, Lunt coming back from injury and more of a pure passer.

What the Cowboys do have is running back Joseph Randle, who could go over 1,000 yards for the season against WVU’s tough run defense as he enters the game with 934.

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

Text Only
WVU Sports
  • 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.

    April 18, 2014

  • 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.

    April 18, 2014

  • 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.

    April 18, 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • Gyorko, Padres agree to extension

    Jedd Gyorko, who hasn’t hit much of anything with a .178 start on this season, hit the jackpot on Monday, signing a six-year contract extension with the San Diego Padres for $35 million with a one-year club option at $13 million.

    April 15, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN- Spring game showed defense has improved

    From Dana Holgorsen’s viewpoint, which was standing right behind the offense, West Virginia’s Gold-Blue Spring Game on Saturday was a rousing success for it showed very little of what the Mountaineers will be in this coming season, probably not even showcasing the man who will direct the offense in the quarterback position.

    April 15, 2014

Featured Ads
WVU Sports Highlights
NDN Sports
House Ads
NCAA Breaking News
NCAA Photos