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
  • 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

  • WVU signs guard; Adrian arrested for DUI

    There was something good and something bad for West Virginia men’s basketball coach Bob Huggins this past weekend as Kansas junior college player Tarik Phillip committed to play for the Mountaineers but rising sophomore Nathan Adrian was charged with Under 21 DUI after he was stopped at 1:20 a.m. Sunday for an expired registration sticker.

    April 15, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN- Most plays good, some not so good in Gold-Blue scrimmage

    There appeared to be a fine mixture of plays, most good with some not so good, in last Saturday’s West Virginia University’s Gold-Blue football scrimmage.

    April 15, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN- Garrison still proving he can carry the ball

    The running back raves from the West Virginia coaching this spring have been directly mostly toward Wendell Smallwood, and rest assured he earned every one of them with his versatility, but it was a reborn running back who well may have taken the biggest jump up the depth chart.

    April 14, 2014

  • WVU baseball drops seventh straight game

    One’s athletic skills are tested on a daily basis but every so often other aspects of an athlete’s makeup are tested, often far more important aspects in the game of life.

    April 14, 2014

  • Gold-Blue Game answers few questions at quarterback

    Dana Holgorsen finds himself in a quarterback quandary.
    He’s looking to have one quarterback and has five of them as spring practice ends, and nothing about the spring session has done anything to straighten out the situation.

    April 13, 2014

  • Moore ‘back at home’ under center

    There are a couple of ways to look at what Logan Moore did this spring after being moved back to quarterback and given a chance to compete for what is a wide open job, as wide open at the end of the spring as it was coming in.
    The first is to say that he didn’t wow Dana Holgorsen to the point that he’s willing to say he’s the leader going into summer drills, but that would be shortsighted considering from where Moore came.

    April 13, 2014

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