By Bob Hertzel
Times West Virginian
West Virginia University coach Dana Holgorsen left himself open for second-guessers with a rather startling decision he made in the first quarter of Saturday’s 37-27 loss to No 15/16 Texas Tech.
First the situation.
It was the closing minute of the first quarter, Texas Tech leading 10-0.
WVU had driven to the Red Raiders 17, then two penalties – a 15-yard penalty and a 10-yard penalty – surrounded an incomplete pass, making it third-and-30 at the Texas Tech 42.
Holgorsen, ranting and raving on the sidelines about the penalties, called a running play to Charles Sims, who broke loose for 16 yards, making it fourth-and-14 at the 26.
Everyone expected the field goal unit with Josh Lambert, who made 30- and 33-yard field goals during the game, to come on, but Holgorsen opted to gamble and go for it.
Clint Trickett threw a long pass near the goal line that fell incomplete. Had the field goal been kicked, WVU would have been down 10-3.
Holgorsen answered honestly and admitted it was a mistake to bypass the field goal.
“We were moving the ball. At the time we were moving the ball but the penalties just kept backing us up,” he said. “It was about a 45-yard field goal. I should have kicked it.”
What was his thinking then?
“My thinking at that point was we were moving the ball and they had just taken it down and scored two times (a TD and field goal) in a row, so I figured touchdowns would be important. I should have kicked a field goal but it was fourth-and-2 or whatever it was and I felt good about going for it, but it was not the right decision.”
Fourth-and-2? Could Holgorsen have looked up and mistaken the down and distance?
No, said offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson, who discussed the play with him. Dawson said they felt they needed a touchdown and were going for something that would get them at least 12 yards.
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Texas Tech Coach Kliff Kingsbury is the first coach in Big 12 history to start his career 7-0.
“I saw ESPN College GameDay and the ones who picked against us,” he said. “I hope they give us that locker room material. The players are aware of where they were picked (to finish) at the beginning of the year. We want to show everyone that we’re not that bad. Let’s put it that way.”
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NOTES: Texas Tech was without an injured receiver Jakeem Grant, a force despite being 5 feet 6 and 160 pounds because he is among the fastest players in the Big 12. ... Former WVU coach Frank Cignetti, who is going into the College Football Hall of Fame for his coaching at Indiana (Pa.), was honored at the game. ... Texas Tech, ranked 15th and 16th, was the fourth ranked team played by WVU in its first seven games. ... WVU had four first downs by penalty. ... Texas Tech tight end Jace Amaro caught nine passes for 136 yards, the sixth straight game in which he has caught at least eight passes.
Follow Bob Hertzel on Twitter @bhertzel