“What’s wrong with the defense?”
That question has been every bit as prevalent in the Mountain State over the last couple of days as “Who are you voting for for president?” or “What’s the weather going to be like tomorrow?”
Following West Virginia University’s 49-14 loss at Texas Tech last Saturday, first-year defensive coordinator Joe DeForest has been about as popular as lima bean-flavored ice cream.
But the 49 points and 513 yards the WVU defense gave up in Lubbock, Texas, weren’t all that surprising. The Mountaineers are next-to-last in the Big 12 in scoring defense, allowing more than 37 points per game, and they’re in the same spot in total defense, allowing nearly 500 yards per contest.
So the performance at Jones AT&T Stadium wasn’t far from the norm.
The offense was a much different story. WVU has had one of the best attacks in the country all year, scoring more than 45 points and racking up over 540 yards per contest.
The 14 points and 295 yards the then-No. 5 Mountaineers (5-1, 2-1 Big 12) ended up posting against the Red Raiders, therefore, was a total shock to most.
“It probably started with the inability to run the ball,” said WVU head coach Dana Holgorsen, who saw his team fall all the way to No. 17 and likely out of the BCS Championship picture after the first loss of the year. “We didn’t do a very good job of finishing blocks early in the game. We didn’t make anybody miss at the running back spot. But that wasn’t all. We just never got into a rhythm.”
Holgorsen was also quick to give credit to Texas Tech, which has one of the conference’s top defenses, allowing just 16.3 points and 243 yards per game — numbers, the Mountaineers learned the hard way, that weren’t just a result of a less-than-stellar early schedule.
“Tech does a good job defensively,” said the second-year coach. “They have against everybody they’ve played. They were disruptive, and when we went out and fell behind, our guys weren’t mentally tough enough to handle another shootout. I think that affected their performance.
“We weren’t able to throw the ball down the field. When we got guys open down the field, we didn’t do a good job of hitting them. It was a combination of a lot of things.”
But Holgorsen felt the main problem Saturday had nothing to do with schemes or physical performance.
“I was really disappointed that we weren’t able to bow up when we faced some adversity,” he said. “Bottom line is we were getting our butt kicked, and we didn’t have anybody bow up.”
So what will the WVU coaches do differently this week to assure the same problems won’t show up Saturday when No. 4 Kansas State (6-0, 3-0 Big 12) visits Morgantown for a 7 p.m. showdown that will air live on FOX?
The man in charge said the approach won’t change.
“We’ll go about it the same way we did the previous five games when we were successful offensively,” said Holgorsen, whose team put up 70 points against Marshall and 69 against Baylor earlier this season. “I don’t think there’s anything wrong with what we’re doing offensively. I think we had a bad game. I don’t think anybody across the country in the history of football has been able to put up the numbers that we were on a very, very consistent basis.”
And as much as it hurt initially, Holgorsen said he’s already seen a positive impact from Saturday’s loss.
“(Sunday), their sense of urgency was a lot better than it was during the game and during the travel,” he said. “These guys got a little bit embarrassed, and I think we’ll play a lot harder and a lot better this week.
“That doesn’t mean we’re going to win, because we’ve got a really good team coming in here.”
But if the Mountaineers are scoring points, they usually have a chance.
— E-mail: chuffman@
WVU coach says no one ‘bowed up’ when adversity struck in Lubbock
“What’s wrong with the defense?”
- College Sports
Herd lands ‘Other D’Antoni’
Danny D’Antoni hasn’t been a West Virginia resident in nearly 40 years. That will soon change, and his family could not be happier.
D’Antoni will be introduced as Marshall’s new head men’s basketball coach at a press conference at 2 p.m. today. Athletic director Mike Hamrick announced the hiring via Twitter Thursday afternoon.
WVU baseball begins series with Kansas State in Morgantown today
The West Virginia University baseball team will host Kansas State in a key Big 12 Conference series this weekend at Hawley Field. Game one begins at 6 p.m. today. Game two begins at 4 p.m. on Saturday, and the first pitch for game three is set for noon on Sunday.
Hamrick deserves praise for pursuit of D’Antoni
Sometimes gambles don’t pay off, but some risks simply have to be taken.
WVU post-spring depth chart filled with few surprises
Although the contents brought about as much of a surprise as a over the hill balloon at a 40th birthday party, there were a few interesting nuggets in the post-spring depth chart that West Virginia University sent out Wednesday morning.
Clutch hitting leads WVU over Marshall
Junior catcher Cam O’Brien finished a home run away from the cycle and scored three runs as the WVU baseball team defeated Marshall, 10-3, on Wednesday evening at Hawley Field.
Gardner improving with broken neck
Joedy Gardner, a well-known former West Virginia basketball player and coach, is much improved after having broken his neck in Phoenix, Ariz., several months ago.
Mountaineers have benefited from incoming football transfers
Recruiting in college football seems to get more and more attention every season. Websites like Scout.com and Rivals.com stalk the high school sidelines and blow up potential recruits’ cell phones in search of the latest information. But there’s one important aspect that often goes ignored — transfers.
WVU baseball pounds Terps
The offense had 16 hits and sophomore left-hander Ross Vance struck out six as the West Virginia University baseball team routed Maryland 14-2 on Tuesday evening at Hawley Field.
Crutchfield not interested in Division I job
You would think Jim Crutchfield would be a great candidate for a head basketball coach’s job at an NCAA Division I university.
But the Clarksburg native keeps saying that he’s perfectly content in that role at West Liberty, a Division II powerhouse. His 10-year record there is an absolutely amazing 272-49. Significantly, 10 of those defeats came in his first year at the West Liberty helm.
Stepping up: Kelly racking up wins for Lions
Sundays have become red-letter days for Chris Kelly.
- More College Sports Headlines
- Herd lands ‘Other D’Antoni’