The Times West Virginian

WVU Sports

September 7, 2013

HERTZEL COLUMN: Holgorsen not trying to be perfect at OU

MORGANTOWN — The task is a tall one for unranked West Virginia University, strolling into Norman, Okla., a 21-point underdog before 85,000 crazed fans in crimson and cream, playing in a stadium where Sooners’ coach Bob Stoops has lost but 5 times in 87 games and going against the nation’s No. 16 team, Oklahoma.

It is so tall, in fact, that someone suggested to Mountaineer coach Dana Holgorsen that about the only chance his young team — which barely survived by a touchdown against William & Mary — had to walk out out of Memorial Stadium with a victory was to play a perfect game.

You could almost see Holgorsen rankle at such a suggestion.

One suspects, from his reaction, he would rather have heard that the Mountaineers only chance would be devine intervention.

“Perfect game?” said Holgorsen. “You can’t ever play a perfect game. That’s impossible.”

It is, of course, what every coach strives for, to get his team to play as close to perfection as possible … no missed assignments, no penalties, no dropped passes, no overthrown passes, no stumbles, no fumble … are you getting the picture?

Holgorsen wasn’t kidding.

No one plays a perfect game, except maybe Peyton Manning.

“We’re going to have to play well. I’ve been there four or five times, and they’re hard to beat at home,” Holgorsen said, before having a second thought. “They’re hard to beat on the road. They’re a good football team and have been for the 15 years that Stoops has been there.”

That, however, is not going back nearly far enough.

Oklahoma’s success hardly began with Stoops and it probably won’t end there, so deeply ingrained is winning in the state.

You probably have to go back first to Bud Wilkinson, who merely put together a 47-game winning streak in the 1950s, football’s equivalent to John Wooden’s 88-game streak in basketball at UCLA. Wilkinson was what you would call a winner.

As a player at Minnesota he was on three consecutive national championship teams, then even played on a College All-Star team that beat the NFL champions Green Bay Packers, 6-0, in what then was an annual meeting between the defending NFL champion and a team of college all-stars.

From there the coaches and All-Americans just flowed through Norman. It was so deep, the coaching, that when Chuck Fairbanks was there, before going on to coach New England, he had on his staff both Barry Switzer and Jimmy Johnson.

Both won national championships, Switzer at Oklahoma.

Over the years, Heisman Trophies and All-Americans found their way to Oklahoma, some of the names legendary in college football from Jack Mildren, who ran the wishbone, to Greg Pruitt to Billy Sims to Billy Vessels to Steve Owens to Jason White to Sam Bradford.

So it is that you play against not only this year’s team, but the legends of the past, and that can be intimidating, if you let it.

“I realize the Heisman winners and all that, but they played for them in the past and aren’t there anymore. These are the same people we are,” said WVU senior defensive end Will Clarke. “That’s how I approach it.”

So, yes, it will be difficult, but a perfect game?

“To ask our guys, especially those who are inexperienced, to play a perfect game — that’s impossible,” Holgorsen maintained.

However, while there will be mistakes, Holgorsen maintains they don’t have to be fatal mistakes.

“It’s how you react to the mistakes. It’s how you react to having a holding call and being third-and-15. We’ve got inexperienced guys, but those guys need to grow up. They need to embrace the fact that they are being put in a challenging position, which I find to be opportunistic,” Holgorsen said.

“To have the opportunity to play in front of thousands of fans and to be on national television and play against a very good opponent gives them all a chance to get better.”

Win the game. In the end, that’s the goal, not playing a perfect game.

“Our goal is to win one game a week,” Holgorsen said earlier this week. “That’s all we said last week. We want to improve on all three sides of the ball. When I address the team today, I’m going to describe what they’re getting into and make sure they’re prepared to travel, line up and win the game. We’ll do our best to win the game and improve on all three sides of the ball.”

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

1
Text Only
WVU Sports
  • WVU #9 Trickett -ts.jpg A healthy Trickett gives WVU chance to win

    You might recall that Pat White’s career as West Virginia quarterback began when Adam Bednarik was injured in the Louisville game of White’s freshman year, opening the door for him to come on and lead one of the greatest comebacks in school history.

    August 2, 2014 1 Photo

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Lingering injury keeps Barber out as season begins

    He was off on the sidelines on the first day of practice, where he’ll be for quite a while now, wearing the red jersey that signifies a player is unable to practice due to injury.
    It wasn’t that he was standing around watching the proceedings. That’s not how it is with Jared Barber.
    No, he’d jog up the sideline, then back.

    August 2, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN: Bob Slonneger widely known as WVU professor, stats crew chief

    Robert Dean Slonneger of Morgantown, a widely known college professor and athletic game statistician, has passed away.
    “Bob,” as he was known to his multitude of friends, died on Tuesday morning, July 29, at Mon General Hospital, after a brief illness.

    August 2, 2014

  • WVU men’s basketball tickets on sale Monday

    Season tickets for West Virginia’s 2014-15 men’s basketball campaign will go on sale Monday, Aug. 4, at the Mountaineer Ticket Office.
    West Virginia will play 16 home games at the WVU Coliseum.

    August 2, 2014

  • A healthy Trickett gives WVU chance to win

    You might recall that Pat White’s career as West Virginia quarterback began when Adam Bednarik was injured in the Louisville game of White’s freshman year, opening the door for him to come on and lead one of the greatest comebacks in school history.

    August 1, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Lingering injury keeps Barber out as season begins

    He was off on the sidelines on the first day of practice, where he’ll be for quite a while now, wearing the red jersey that signifies a player is unable to practice due to injury.

    August 1, 2014

  • Bob Slonneger widely known as WVU professor, stats crew chief

    Robert Dean Slonneger of Morgantown, a widely known college professor and athletic game statistician, has passed away.

    August 1, 2014

  • WVU #6 SHORTS -TS.jpg WVU opens practice with different feel: VIDEOS AND PHOTOS

    West Virginia University football coach Dana Holgorsen was happy with his team’s first practice of the 2014 season.
    Of course, he would note, “Everybody in the country has a good first day.”
    But somehow, this was different.
    Very different.

    August 1, 2014 9 Photos

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Social media adds another thing to watch for coaches

    As someone who has gotten himself in enough hot water with a misplaced Tweet, when West Virginia University quarterback Clint Trickett hit the send button on July 17 sending out to the cyberworld what should have remained there with him on the couch on which he was sitting, I could feel his pain.

    August 1, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN: Bobby Bowden won the bad-and-good battle with rival Lou Holtz

    The recent announcement that West Virginia University is resuming a football relationship with North Carolina State triggered a most memorable bad-news, good-news battle.
    It was between two legendary coaches, WVU’s Bobby Bowden and N.C. State’s Lou Holtz back there in the 1970s.

    August 1, 2014

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