The help has been meaningful on defense, too. Outside linebacker Brandon Golson was Alford's teammate at Georgia Military Academy. He's started every game and has 35 tackles. He's second on the team with three sacks and third with 61/2 tackles for a loss. Defensive end Dontrill Hyman, slowed lately by an ankle sprain, has started twice in 10 games and has 17 tackles and 31/2 sacks.
Punter Nick O'Toole averages 43.4 yards on 62 punts. Twenty-one have gone farther than 50 yards and 20 put the opponent inside its 20-yard line.
"Everybody took somebody under their arm and guided us the right way," Smith said. "That's going to be my role next year with the incoming guys. We'll guide them the same way we were guided."
WVU did have two misses, though. Linebacker d'Vante Henry wasn't with the team at the start of camp because of a personal issue and was later dismissed from the team following an arrest in September for second-degree sexual assault. Receiver Ronald Carswell, who averaged a team-high 20.6 yards on 20 receptions in eight games, is suspended indefinitely for violating team rules before the TCU loss. Holgorsen said last week he'll revisit the situation at the end of the season.
Kansas has four junior college transfers redshirting. Two transferred and one was dismissed from the team. The Jayhawks still produced seven players who have started this season, plus a backup on the offensive line and two on the defensive line and in the defensive backfield.
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ONE OF WVU'S most notable enthusiasts against Texas was center Pat Eger, who was benched during the game for what Holgorsen called "awful" snaps. Yet as WVU led the game and tried to stay in control, Eger was constantly cheering on and talking up his teammates.
"He's trying hard," Holgorsen said. "Sometimes he tries too hard. It means a lot to him. He's a team captain. It means more to him than probably anybody on the team. That said, if the snaps are bad and he's not doing anything he needs to do, we're going to put somebody else in there."
Eger hadn't played center before he spent spring practice trying to figure it out, but he was a guard throughout preseason practice. Redshirt freshman Tyler Orlosky started the first two games and then the fourth, but Eger, a senior from Pleasant Hills, Pa., has played most of the snaps since then.
"It comes down to focus," Eger said. "When I snap, I want to go straight back and hit my crotch and release right through it. Sometimes when I see it go wide right, I know I let it go off the side of my leg. I can see it on film. Sometimes if they're blitzing or if I'm talking to someone and it happens quickly, it'll slip my mind and I'm not 100 percent focused on that.
"I was freaking out during the game, but the two snaps we fumbled, I was like, 'Wow, what did I do? What that high? Was it low?' Then I found out they weren't my fault."
Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at mi...@dailymail.com or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/wvu.