"It was the first time all year we didn't play with the effort and energy that it takes to win the game," he said. "There have been losses where I was comfortable with the loss because it didn't have anything to do with the effort. When we lose because of the effort, that's when I get frustrated, and for the first time I saw it (against Kansas)."
He believes the practices last week were therapeutic and the time players were given to themselves over the weekend while the coaches were out recruiting will help bring them back to where they need to be to finish the first losing season since 2001.
"I hope so," he said. "I haven't shied away from it and ultimately it falls on my shoulders to make sure that happens," Holgorsen said. "We didn't get the job done against Kansas for a variety of reasons we addressed, and we've moved on and did what we felt we needed to do from a health point of view and a development point of view, and we'll do our absolute best to try to prepare to win this week."
Holgorsen said the time off helped shrink the list of injured players, though safety Darwin Cook, right tackle Curtis Feigt, linebacker Isaiah Bruce and cornerback Daryl Worley are questionable. Cook and Feigt are among the 12 seniors who will play their last college game before what figures to be an unusually small home crowd.
Running back Charles Sims, who transferred before this season from the University of Houston, is the only player who wasn't on the 2011 team that won the Big East and the Orange Bowl and then transitioned to the Big 12. The Mountaineers are 11-13 overall and 6-11 in the Big 12 since.
Sims, nose guard Shaq Rowell and linebacker Dozie Ezemma, who was lost for the season to an injury in the first game, are the only seniors who weren't recruited by the previous coaching staff and a part of the coaching change.
"They've given a lot to the program and they've seen a lot of changes, but their attitude has been phenomenal," Holgorsen said. "It's the last time some of these guys will play football and the last time all of them will play on Mountaineer Field. They deserve to have everyone do their best to try to get the win.
"You're playing for pride. Shoot, you're playing a Big 12 football game. Get out there and have fun with it. Playing this time of year, there's nothing easy about it. You're dealing with specific elements. There are no secrets about the schemes out there. It's about going out there and playing, and whoever plays hardest and whoever plays with the most fight and effort gets a win. Hopefully that'll be us."
Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at mi...@dailymail.com or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/wvu.