The Times West Virginian

WVU Sports

December 1, 2011

HERTZEL COLUMN: WVU hopes for Hollywood ending to this script

MORGANTOWN — If West Virginia University is to win tonight at South Florida, and everything points to the Mountaineers doing just that, it will be because they have spent the entire year rehearsing for the moment.

This, you see, is a team that thrives on adversity. It is a group of young men who need to feel a sense of urgency before they can reach the potential they possess.

It was the script that was written for the season and for nearly every game within the season.

“It’s a huge game. We have a chance to have a share of the Big East. We put ourselves in that situation, but we fought back and it is a one-game season now. It’s pretty much win or go home. We will focus like no other and go out and try to get this one,” is the way quarterback Geno Smith put it.

It could not be put any better, especially the part about the team putting themselves in the situation they now face. That realization of that and taking the responsibility for it is what is necessary for them to respond positively, just as they have all year.

Think about it. This is a team that has stared adversity in the eye over and over, in nearly every game.

It is a team that has scored 92 or more points in the second, third and even the fourth quarters, a quarter that virtually wasn’t played in the lightning-delayed, then halted Marshall game.

But in the first quarter it has scored only 68 points, less than a touchdown a game.

The Mountaineers trailed at the end of the first quarter in seven of 11 games and led in only the Bowling Green and Maryland games.

The statistics certainly seem to back up the observation that this is a team that needs to be jolted into reality, but in some ways coach Dana Holgorsen is living in denial about the slow starts.

This was how he responded when asked how important it might be to get off to a fast start at least in this one final regular-season game, a game that carries the team’s legacy, as he put it.

“It’s important to start fast all the time,” he said. “I don’t have a magic formula to sprinkle on our team to be able to go out and start fast. I don’t think we’ve relatively started slow or bad.

“If you look back at Cincinnati, we started pretty fast. Cincinnati started pretty fast, too. At Maryland, we started pretty fast. I don’t think it’s been a consistent problem.”

It hasn’t been a problem because this is a team with a large heart, a team which believed so strongly in itself, even after disastrous, inexplicable losses to Syracuse and Louisville, that it was able to revive itself and win enough games down the stretch to sit where it sits today.

True, it is hardly a good situation, needing to depend on a Cincinnati team that is without its starting quarterback to win, should the Mountaineers top USF.

But it is what it is.

“I wish we could have a few of those games back,” Holgorsen admitted. “We’ve put a couple of good victories behind us and moved forward from them, too. It’s right there for us. This is what it’s about. We have a national TV game, a quality opponent, and if we win the game, we get a share of the Big East Conference championship. That’s where we wanted to be at the beginning of the year, and it’s right there for us.

“Would we have liked to have won a couple more games and have the title with us right now? Yes. Everybody else would like that, too. What it is, is reality and reality, is that we’ve put ourselves in a position that we can win the Big East. We’ll take it,” Holgorsen concluded.

What, though, if WVU wins this game but Cincinnati doesn’t cooperate? What if the Bearcats lay an egg against Connecticut? Is all lost?

Senior defensive tackle Julian Miller says not at all, that the BCS bid, while coveted, would be simply icing on the cake once WVU does all it can do to get there.

“If Cincinnati doesn’t win, it won’t make any difference. We’re still Big East co-champs. That was our goal coming into the season, to win the Big East,” he said.

Somehow, though, we suspect there would a hunger left behind, an empty spot in Miller’s stomach as well as Mountaineer backers everywhere, who would be watching a 7-5 Louisville team play in a BCS bowl while a clearly superior West Virginia team had to settle for an inferior bowl game.

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

 

1
Text Only
WVU Sports
  • HERTZEL COLUMN- Summer, Alabama will be used to get WVU’s mind right

    The ink had barely dried on the final reports out of West Virginia’s spring practice when thoughts turned forward toward the lazy, hazy days of late summer, days that will bring us into football season with a game that can either change the entire image of WVU football or sour it even further.

    April 21, 2014

  • Arrest warrant out for WVU recruit

    West Virginia University’s newest men’s basketball recruit, Tarik Phillip, has an order out for his arrest in North Carolina, according to a story in The Dominion-Post, which said three Gaston County Magistrate office spokespersons confirmed.

    April 20, 2014

  • WVU baseball powers past Oklahoma, 9-5

    The WVU baseball team tied a season high with 18 hits to defeat Oklahoma, 9-5, on Saturday afternoon at L. Dale Mitchell Park.
    The win gives the Mountaineers their second Big 12 series win of the season and improves the overall record to 19-16 and 4-7 in conference play. Oklahoma drops to 25-16 overall and 5-7 in Big 12 play.

    April 20, 2014

  • 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

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