Big 12 football notebook: Injuries a concern for WVU’s Holgorsen
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- West Virginia lost no fewer than four starters for long stretches of Saturday's defeat at Texas Tech and had other players walk off the field for at least a few snaps in the second half.
Mountaineers Coach Dana Holgorsen said Monday he'll have to see who has recovered and who practices today before he can update anyone's status. He didn't wait to hint at a concern about some absences.
"It has something to do with mindset and mental toughness," he said on the Big 12 coaches' teleconference. "In a physical game, guys tend to go down and get hurt quicker."
Right guard Jeff Braun, receiver Stedman Bailey, cornerback Brodrick Jenkins and linebacker Isaiah Bruce - all starters - missed stretches of the second half. Bailey and Bruce returned to the game. Bruce said afterward he feared a hip pointer, but that he expected to play this week against No. 4 Kansas State (6-0-3-0).
The Mountaineers played against Texas Tech without starting defensive end Will Clarke and running back Shawne Alston.
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IN SATURDAY'S first half, ABC commentator Chris Spielman began accurately predicting whether WVU would run or pass based on left tackle Quinton Spain's stance. Holgorsen tried to minimize the urgency.
"I think it's predictable for every offensive tackle in the country on various plays," he said.
Spielman, a former Ohio State linebacker reasoned that when Spain's left foot was deep, WVU would pass because Spain wanted to be better braced to pass block. Spielman also said Spain looked outside on pass plays to look for a player on a blitz.
When the left foot was shallow, Spielman predicted a run because Spain could step quicker into a run block. Spielman also pointed out that Spain looked inside before run plays so he could find who he needed to block.
"It's something we've talked about a lot," Holgorsen said. "I know a lot has been made about of it because of the commentary, but it's something we've been aware of since we got here and started coaching offense and trying to make sure stances and signals don't give anything away."
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TEXAS TECH Coach Tommy Tuberville said his defense's plan was to make the Mountaineers win by passing the ball, and the Red Raiders held WVU to an average of just 3.7 yards on 36 rushes. The 133 yards were 74 fewer than what Andrew Buie alone had a week earlier against Texas.
"We didn't do a good job finishing blocks early in the game, we didn't make anybody miss at the running back spot," Holgorsen said. "That wasn't the only problem because we never got in a rhythm and Tech does a good job defensively. They have against everybody they played.
"They were disruptive out there and once we fell behind, our guys weren't mentally tough enough to handle another shootout."
Holgorsen said the Mountaineers, who had their worst defeat since a 45-3 loss to Miami in 2003, were "embarrassed" and that they had no sense of urgency once the Red Raiders punctured WVU's confidence.
"I'm really disappointed that we weren't able to bow up when we faced some adversity when we were getting down," he said. "The bottom line is we were getting out butts kicked out there and we didn't have anybody bow up.
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THE MOUNTAINEERS (5-1, 2-1 Big 12) aren't alone with injuries. Texas lost defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat to a season ending injury. He tore a pectoral muscle against Oklahoma. Quarterback David Ash was feared to have broken his non-throwing hand, but Coach Mack Brown said Ash's left hand is just bruised.
Texas Tech lost receiver Bradley Marquez to a season-ending knee injury against WVU. Tight end Jace Amaro will miss Saturday's game against TCU.
The Red Raiders were already without receiver Javon Bell, who missed the win against the Mountaineers.
Oklahoma State played again without starting quarterback Wes Lundt, but J.W. Walsh led the Cowboys to a road win, his first in two starts, Saturday at Kansas. In three games in place of Lundt, Walsh is 59-for-86 for 903 yards, seven touchdowns and three interceptions. He's also run for 179 yards and two touchdowns.
Lundt could be back this week for Iowa State, but Walsh ranks No. 6 nationally in passer efficiency and No. 45 in total offense while Oklahoma State (3-2, 2-1) is No. 1 in total offense. Coach Mike Gundy hasn't decided if Walsh will maintain a role with Lundt, who was named the starter in April.
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OKLAHOMA STATE, TCU and Iowa State have made quarterback changes this season and Kansas may do the same. Coach Charlie Weis said the coaching staff has thought about pulling senior transfer Dayne Crist in favor of Mike Cummings, who rallied the Jayhawks against Oklahoma State.
"It would be more about what gives us the best chance to win against a very, very, very good Oklahoma team," Weis said.
Cummings passed for 75 yards and a touchdown and led two touchdown drives in the second half of the 20-14 loss to Oklahoma State. He also had Kansas in Cowboys territory on its final drive, but the Jayhawks couldn't come all the way back from a 20-0 deficit.
Kansas (1-5, 0-3) has lost five consecutive games.
"Every game we've been in, we went into halftime this year up or down a little bit," Weis said. "There hasn't been a game this year where we've gone into halftime and the game's been decided.
"This week, we go in down 10 at halftime after a 0-0 first quarter and they begin the fourth quarter and kick a field goal to go up 20-0 and you feel the way things have gone this year that it's about ready to get ugly. It went the exact opposite direction."
Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at email@example.com or 3049-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/wvu.