WVU notebook: Loss at Texas still stings Holgorsen
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — With West Virginia’s next game Nov. 20 at home against Kansas State following a bye, coach Dana Holgorsen took a not-so-fond look back at Saturday’s 33-16 loss to Texas in Austin that ended the Mountaineers’ Big 12 title hopes.
The game pretty much was decided by halftime when Texas led, 24-3, holding WVU without a first-half touchdown for the first time this season.
The Longhorns’ running game also shredded the Mountaineers’ defense, rolling up 178 yards in the first 30 minutes. That exceeded their rushing totals in six games this season.
“Obviously, I wasn’t happy,” Holgorsen said Tuesday. “I can’t point to one side. Offense, defense, special teams were all bad in the first half. Challenged our guys at halftime. I would say I was happy not with the performance, but with the fact that they came out in the second half and competed.
“It’s pretty evident on film. We blocked better, we tackled better (in the second half). You’re not going to win in college football by only playing two quarters.”
WVU (6-4, 4-3 Big 12) lost its second straight game for the first time in this season. The week before, TCU, then ranked No. 10, came back to win, 31-30, on a field goal as time expired. It was a crushing defeat at home, one Holgorsen and the players tried to put behind them.
That apparently was easier said than done. After the Texas game, Holgorsen said his team came out flat. He reiterated the point Tuesday.
“I can attest to what I saw on tape,” he said. “It was pretty evident they were ready to play more than we were ready to play. The mindset that this team has done a good job with — effort, energy, excitement, flying around, having fun, playing the game — existed in the first nine games. It didn’t exist in this one.
“Why, I don’t know. Tired, disappointed with the loss to TCU, having to do another run game, I don’t know. It just didn’t exist.”
Running on empty
Holgorsen said the offensive line played poorly. Except for Dreamius Smith’s 62-yard run in the second half, the running game did little. Under heavy pressure, quarterback Clint Trickett was sacked three times by defensive end Cedric Reed.
“The O-line is kind of wearing down a little bit,” Holgorsen said. “Those guys need to regroup. They had their worst game. They graded out in the 80s and they normally grade out in the 90s. They’re playing a ton of snaps and they’ve had a great year to this point. They just got a little bit worn down.”
Holgorsen also said “the backups aren’t ready to go yet. I wish we had another guard, another tackle, another center to where I felt comfortable putting those guys in.”
Even though the starters are better, last season’s line was deeper with tackle Adam Pankey and center Tyler Orlosky as quality backups. Both are starting now.
“It’s just a hard position to play when you’re young, and we’ve got a lot of young guys right now who aren’t quite ready yet.” Holgorsen said.
The Big 12 did not suspend safety K.J. Dillon for the first half of the Kansas State game, as had been reported. The conference ruled Dillon’s ejection near the end of the Texas game was for “flagrant striking” and not for fighting.
Holgorsen said he hopes to have quarterback William Crest on the practice field some time in December. The freshman, a leading candidate to start next season, has a shoulder injury that forced him to be redshirted.
“It’s weird because you look at him, and he’s got these big, thick shoulders, and you’re like, ‘How is strength an issue with him?,’ said Holgorsen. “When you’re throwing the ball, it’s little, tiny muscles inside your shoulder that needed to be developed. He’s on track. He’s progressing.
Bob Cohn is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com.