The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

College Sports

October 20, 2013

WVU must become the sharks

MORGANTOWN — Kevin White might have said it best. After catching five passes for 77 yards — and drawing a couple of key pass interference calls — during West Virginia’s 37-27 loss to No. 16 Texas Tech Saturday at Milan Puskar Stadium, the junior college transfer sat dejected in the team room fielding questions from reporters.

“We had the game, and we just let them take it,” said the junior from Plainfield, N.J., shaking his head as if he’d just been told that the world was flat. “We just didn’t finish it. I think it comes from within. We let one slip away.”

Indeed, the Mountaineers (3-4, 1-3 Big 12) had a second home upset of a nationally-ranked team all but locked up. Just as it did in the upset of No. 11 Oklahoma State on Sept. 28, WVU played with energy and emotion Saturday, building an 11-point third-quarter lead against the undefeated Red Raiders that seemed to have all the momentum in the Mountaineers’ corner.

But this time, they couldn’t finish the deal. Texas Tech scored 21 unanswered points and marched out of Morgantown with “Guns Up,” while the Mountaineers were left to wonder exactly what had happened.

There’s plenty of blame to go around for WVU’s late-game collapse. Keith Paterson’s rebuilt defense, which looked better at times, made things way too easy on the visitors, who scored three touchdowns over the final two quarters on drives that all lasted less than three-and-a-half minutes.

“They got into a tempo and rhythm, and we just couldn’t make a play,” said Patterson. “We got close a couple of times, but it’s frustrating.

“We got them into third downs and couldn’t get off the field. They were 9 of 15. That’s key.”

Patterson’s unit was able to make one crucial stop, forcing Texas Tech to punt and giving head coach Dana Holgorsen’s offense the ball down three points with 6:14 to go.

As it did throughout the final quarter, though, the offense shot itself in the foot — running for no gain on first down and losing yards on second down on the way to another three-and-out.

“It’s not the effort,” said Holgorsen, who also shares some of the blame, especially for not kicking a first-quarter field goal that could have proved huge in the final minutes. “The effort was fine. The will to win was not there.”

The more important question, though, is what happens to the will to win in the coming weeks and months? Does this Mountaineer team still believe? Can WVU play with the same effort away from Mountaineer Field? Where does Holgorsen’s club go from here?

“We go to Kansas State,” said junior quarterback Clint Trickett, providing the obvious answer. “I’m excited to play Coach (Bill) Snyder. I’ve looked up to him my whole life. It’s another Big 12 game.”

Trickett’s answer might be more telling than it seems on the surface. His attitude after a difficult loss was much the same as his teammates. It hurt, and the Mountaineer players admitted it hurt. But they didn’t seem ready to pack up their bags and call it a season.

“We just have to practice harder, stay consistent and try to forget about this game,” said junior wide receiver Kevin White, who is starting to emerge as the playmaker the WVU staff beleived he could be.

“We’ve got a bunch of guys that want to win,” added Trickett, just before heading to the film room to revue his performance. “I’m not worried about that. We just have to execute.

“As a team, we all have to come together.”

It has to get easier for the Mountaineers. After facing four straight undefeated opponents and three straight ranked foes, WVU will face just just one team — Texas — over the final five weeks that currently has a winning record. The other four — Kansas State, TCU, Kansas and Iowa State — are a combined 8-17 overall and have just one Big 12 win among them.

With an effort like the one it showed Saturday, WVU appears to have a team capable of winning some games — if it can just learn how to win.

“When you’ve got somebody down, you’ve got to be like sharks in a tank,” said Patterson. “You have to smell it and just go take it.”

— E-mail: and follow on Twitter @CamHuffmanRH.

Text Only
College Sports
  • Hamrick deserves praise for pursuit of D’Antoni

    Sometimes gambles don’t pay off, but some risks simply have to be taken.

    April 23, 2014

  • 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.

    April 23, 2014

  • 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.

    April 23, 2014

  • 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.

    April 23, 2014

  • 042314 trickett Mountaineers have benefited from incoming football transfers

    Recruiting in college football seems to get more and more attention every season. Websites like and 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.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • 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.

    April 22, 2014

  • 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.

    April 22, 2014

  • Stepping up: Kelly racking up wins for Lions

    Sundays have become red-letter days for Chris Kelly.

    April 22, 2014

  • Paul Popovich, now 73, wishes he were playing baseball today

    If you’re a longtime baseball fan, you may recall Morgantown’s Paul Popovich.

    April 22, 2014

  • Hiring an interim while waiting on D’Antoni would be an injustice

    The search for Marshall’s new men’s basketball coach remained in a holding pattern over the Easter weekend while the Los Angeles Lakers put off their decision on coach Mike D’Antoni’s future until this week.

    April 21, 2014

AP Video