WVU football: Resilient Mountaineers get back to work
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- The trip back to campus Saturday night was not pleasant for West Virginia's coaches and players, but Sunday gave the Mountaineers a new start to the next week and another game to prepare for.
"We have plenty of things to work on, as we're all smart enough to understand," Coach Dana Holgorsen said Tuesday at his weekly news conference. "We went back to work Sunday and went out and had a good practice. Kids are resilient, way more resilient than the coaches, I assure you that."
That might seem like surprising behavior from a team that committed six turnovers and had 175 yards of offense in a 37-0 loss, but it merely extended what Holgorsen has come to expect from his third team.
"Our guys have done everything we've asked them to do for eight months," he said. "That goes back to January after I had that sick feeling in my stomach about Syracuse. We came in here, we met and we went to work and they've done everything we've asked them to do for eight months."
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REDSHIRT FRESHMAN quarterback Ford Childress will make his third consecutive start in Saturday's game (ESPN, noon) against No. 11 Oklahoma State at Mountaineer Field. Holgorsen was nevertheless asked why junior Clint Trickett has only played six snaps this season.
"I evaluate them every day in practice," he said. "You don't."
Holgorsen was then asked why he bothered to accept Trickett as a transfer from Florida State, where he made two starts in 17 games in two seasons.
"Why do I have 120 guys on the team? Because I made the decision to have them on the team," he said. "You never know what the finished product is going to look like."
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JUST LIKE WVU (2-2, 0-1 Big 12), the Cowboys (3-0) have started two different quarterbacks this season. Senior Clint Chelf was the starter in the opener, but he shared time with sophomore J.W. Walsh. Walsh has started the past two games.
While Holgorsen and Oklahoma State Coach Mike Gundy started the season open to the idea of playing two quarterbacks, neither will play more than one now.
"I think people play different quarterbacks when they have two quarterbacks who bring something different to the table," Holgorsen said. "The three guys we have are all pocket guys. There's not an option guy.
"Looking at Oklahoma State and following them pretty closely - and Coach Gundy knows a thing or two about quarterbacks in his own right - with the guys they've got, they bring something different to the table. What J.W. Walsh brings to the table is different from what Clint Chelf brings to the table."
Walsh has completed 59 of 84 passes for 642 yards and five touchdowns, but he also leads the team with 184 yards rushing on 25 attempts. The Cowboys can make use of option elements with Walsh in the game that weren't part of the plan for Chelf.
Chelf picked the Mountaineers apart last season and Walsh didn't play, but Holgorsen knows Walsh very well. He recruited Walsh to Oklahoma State and admired Walsh's winning traits. Walsh played for his dad, John, at Guyer High, in Denton, Texas.
"Texas high school football is pretty good, and him being a coach's kid and watching him win games, watching the intangibles, every intangible you want in a quarterback to have, he has," Holgorsen said. "Watching him win games and getting guys to rally, you could see you could see on the sideline, you could see in practice and you could see it in games, which is why it resulted in a whole bunch of wins
"I think you can take those guys and make their skills better and make their skillset better."
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OKLAHOMA STATE HAS 15 red zone possessions and 15 red zone touchdowns this season. No other team in the country has a touchdown on every red zone possession.
It's the second straight week WVU has faced a team that was ranked No. 1 in red zone scoring percentage. Maryland had been 12-for-12 with six touchdowns and field goals. The Terrapins were 5-for-5 against WVU with three touchdowns.
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THE COWBOYS ARE also the second straight team and third opponent out of five to enter its game against WVU without a loss. After this week, WVU plays at unbeaten Baylor, which is off this week, and then at home against unbeaten Texas Tech.
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THE COWBOYS DO their damage on offense with balance. Ten players have combined for 12 touchdowns. They've run the ball 110 times and thrown 112 passes. They've scored 18 touchdowns, with 10 coming through the air and eight on the ground. They've converted 20 third downs, 10 with a run and 10 with a pass.
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RECEIVERS MARIO ALFORD and Ronald Carswell have both lost fumbles catching punts this season and the turnovers have led to touchdowns for the other team in WVU's losses. Holgorsen said Tuesday he's committed to Carswell, who later in the Maryland game waved off his teammates when a punt hit the ground, only to field the punt and stand in place until he was tackled.
"We've had three guys back there," he said. "I'm comfortable with Ronnie back there. He's the one who has the most confidence. It's no excuse, but (Maryland's) guys dropped two. The wind was swirling. The ball was wet.
"He made a poor decision. He's inexperienced. He's got to get good at it, but I like his confidence and his mental makeup. And you can't just keep playing musical chairs with it."
Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/wvu.