MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- Though he's never been through a season without a bowl game or the additional practices, West Virginia Coach Dana Holgorsen is trying to find a way to make up for what was lost in Saturday's defeat to Kansas.
The Mountaineers are off this week and finish their season at home against Iowa State Nov. 30. Holgorsen is using this week to do what he would have done between the regular season finale and a bowl game.
"We've got a lot of guys whose primary responsibilities right now are being on the scout team and redshirting because they're not ready to play or they're too young," Holgorsen said. "We'll take those guys and practice them (today), Wednesday and Thursday and we'll give them a lot of reps because we're going to lose some of that time in December."
If they had qualified for a 12th consecutive bowl game, the Mountaineers (4-7, 2-6 Big 12) would play the Cyclones (1-9, 0-7) and be off the following weekend before finding out their postseason destination and opponent Dec. 8. Final exams start this year on Dec. 11. The players would have been off that week and returned to practice Dec. 19 before breaking again a few days for Christmas and then meeting at the site of the bowl.
West Virginia could have practiced the week before its bowl assignment, in between exams and the holiday break, and again at the bowl site. A few of those practices would have been reserved for bowl game preparations, while the rest would have been devoted to young, barely used and scout-team players.
"Losing the time that we're not going to have to rep them in December is unfortunate," Holgorsen said. "But really, when you look at it, it's only five or six practices we're losing. We'll try to make that up here this week and play a lot of ball."
The Mountaineers are redshirting 10 true freshmen, but also have 50 players in their freshman and sophomore classes, though many start or play and will be off this week. Holgorsen has also redshirted a bunch of walk-ons to control and monitor their development.
"All those guys who haven't played a lot of snaps need to practice a good bit," Holgorsen said. "We'll try to get those guys developed as much as possible on the field."
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WVU'S REGULAR PLAYERS will have a much lighter workload this week, especially the ones who have played a lot this season. Holgorsen rattled off names that needed rest, though only ones on defense and probably no one more in need than senior safety Darwin Cook.
Cook was hurt twice against Kansas, first when he hit tight end Jimmay Mundine to break up a pass and later when he chased James Sims at the end of a 62-yard gain. Cook, who had barely missed any snaps this season, was out for the final two-plus quarters.
"He broke down," Holgorsen said.