MANHATTAN, Kan, - A week ago, West Virginia Coach Dana Holgorsen eschewed a 43-yard field goal opportunity in the first quarter against Texas Tech to give his offense a shot on fourth-and-14.
It didn't work.
In Saturday's 35-12 loss to Kansas State, Holgorsen opted against a 26-yard field goal at fourth-and-7 at the Wildcats' 9-yard line.
It didn't work either, though even this level of dysfunction deserves an explanation.
WVU attempted a fake field goal, but holder Michael Molinari came up two yards short on his run through the middle of the line of scrimmage.
Ahead 12-7 at the time with only seconds to go before halftime, the Mountaineers almost looked as surprised as the Wildcats, though Holgorsen said it was a scenario discussed previously and the decision to try the fake was made by the players.
"Every call is my call. It was there," Holgorsen said. "We had first-and-5 on the 5 and it was disturbing - and there are a lot of things that are disturbing that we do offensively. We had to settle for a field goal, which is fine, but we had the look (on a made field goal earlier) that we wanted, so the next time that we went out there, we said if (the look for the fake) was there we had to communicate it.
"We obviously did not get through to Mike what we needed to get through to him. It was not the correct look and it was not the correct call."
That was part of a lowlight reel for special teams. Punter nick O'Toole averaged 32 yards on five punts. Place kicker Josh Lambert had an extra point blocked. Kansas State punted five times but WVU returned only one for three yards. Four kickoff returns averaged only 17 yards and one 22-yard return was wiped out by fullback Garrett Hope's holding penalty.
It was especially noteworthy because WVU's game captains were Molinari, O'Toole, Lambert and long snapper John DePalma.
WVU's defense continues to dwindle. In addition to season-ending injuries to linebacker Shaq Petteway and cornerback Nana Kyerekeh in the preseason and linebacker Dozie Ezemma and nose guard Christian Brown earlier in the season, WVU is without linebacker Wes Tonkery for a few weeks and safety Ricky Rumph, linebackers Marvin Gross and Doug Rigg and cornerback Daryl Worley for unknown times.
Rumph (foot) and Gross (undisclosed) were in uniform after missing the last game, but neither played. Rigg (undisclosed) was not in uniform. Worley, the freshman who started last week, was ruled out Saturday, though defensive coordinator Keith Patterson declined to say why.
"It's the eighth game of the season, the time when you get beat up and you get injuries," he said. "You've got to deal with it and throw people out there and see if you can overcome it."
Brown's injury has caused a ripple effect that's touched depth at defensive end, linebacker and safety and Saturday nabbed true freshman Darrien Howard. He hadn't played all season, but debuted and broke his redshirt in the first half.