Soon after the deflating loss to Louisville, Holgorsen met with his team and said he was changing the way he decided who dressed out for games.
The Mountaineers were about to play in a pivotal game at Cincinnati and he vowed to only take the players who would prove worthy in practice by outwardly expressing how much they wanted to be on that road trip.
WVU normally takes 70 or 75 players on the road. Sixty-four went to Cincinnati. The Mountaineers won and showcased their newfound spirit from the beginning to the end, even if he merely offered a muted fist pump or a calibrated holler along the way.
He'd nevertheless made his point.
"It got through to the people we left at home," he said. "You've got to back it up."
Holgorsen said some players who were left at home that day made the next road trip to South Florida. A few never learned the lesson. There were no exceptions made to his rule and though he said he was tested, he never failed to establish his way.
It was like that throughout his first season as a head coach and it's not easy managing all the very different players, personalities and productivity on his team and predicting what punishments may do.
Holgorsen simplified it and didn't really care about the variety.
"It's all about being accountable for a variety of things," he said. "It's class, weights, being on time. It's saying do one thing and if you don't do it, you're going to be held accountable for what you are supposed to do. They still have to be held to the same standards."
The Mountaineers were a better team the rest of the way, more exciting and more excitable, and they found ways to rescue themselves from themselves. Then they were in a tight spot, they found a way to explode out of it and escape.
"Dana basically told the seniors, 'Listen, this is your team. Whether you're on special teams or defense of offense, if a good or bad play happens, you need to be there to provide a spark for us to move past that point,'" said outside receivers coach Darron Roberts, who has known Holgorsen since Roberts immersed himself with the coaching staff at Texas Tech for a project he was working on as a student at Texas.
"The guys took over, which is a credit to the coaches and the players on the sideline. He said, 'This is your sideline. I want you to own it and do everything you can within the rules to own the sideline.' The last three games, you saw a lot of energy and we never got too far down even though we had some tough scrapes."
Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at mi...@dailymail.com or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/wvu.