The Times West Virginian

WVU Sports

September 26, 2011

Back to work

Mountaineers set out to fix mistakes

MORGANTOWN — Bad enough that the West Virginia Mountaineers had to trudge into their locker room Saturday night having had their undefeated season stolen away from them by Louisiana State University, upon arriving they saw that the locker room had been ransacked and a number of items, including cellphones, stolen.

All coach Dana Holgorsen would say in his Sunday night news conference was that it was “an internal matter and will be handled internally.”

That did nothing to help the attitudes of a team that was beat, 47-21, as much by their own mistakes as by a Bayou Tiger team that would be voted the No. 1 team in the nation on Sunday.

Quarterback Geno Smith, while passing for a school record 463 yards with a school record 38 completions, threw two interceptions and WVU lost two fumbles. The defense never could coerce a turnover out of LSU.

“We were pretty much right on,” Holgorsen said. “Offensively and defensively we played down in and down out pretty good. Not like great, great, but good enough to win if we had not had four turnovers and if we had gotten a couple of turnovers. We talked about the turnover thing and that was pretty glaring.”

The fact that they played well other than the turnovers and have a game against Bowling Green of the MAC coming on the heels of facing SEC power LSU could give them a false sense of security and Holgorsen says he is aware of that and would guard against it this week.

“We would have had the same feeling if we had won the game,” Holgorsen said. “There was obviously a lot of energy and anticipation. We talked about last week not having to get them up because they would be up anyway because of the LSU game. Well, there’s a natural hangover that comes with that.”

Certainly a loss isn’t anything that you gloat over, and Holgorsen has a number of things to work on, beginning with the special teams. His punting form Corey Smith was dreadful at 33 net yards a punt, especially coming in comparison to the job done by LSU punter Brad Wing, who had 48.7 net yards per punt and continually pinned the Mountaineers back inside their own 10.

“That was as good a punting performance as I’ve seen in 12 years,” Holgorsen said.

To make matters worse, Tavon Austin could not find a way to catch the punts, often allowing them to roll.

Holgorsen said he isn’t concerned about it but will work on that.

“Tavon does a good job and is fast enough to get there. It’s a deal where he has to make a judgment call, running through traffic or going with the ‘Peter, Peter’ call thing to get everyone out of the way to make sure it doesn’t hit us,” Holgorsen said.

A 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Morris Claiborne right after his Mountaineers had found to within a touchdown in the second half wound up breaking the Mountaineers’ heart, if not their spirit.

“We were a disappointed football team last night and today,” Holgorsen admitted.

Now it’s back to the drawing board as they have this week’s Bowling Green game before diving into Big East Conference play against UConn on Oct. 8 in the annual Homecoming game.

Email Bob Hertzel at bhertzel@hotmail.com. Follow on Twitter @bhertzel.

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