Big 12 Teleconference News and Notes: The State of West Virginia Football
(Every Monday, Big 12 coaches answer questions for the Big 12 coaches teleconference. On Monday, Oct. 28, West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen took over with numerous quotes about the state of Mountaineer football.)
West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen doesn't always have a way with words, but that doesn't mean he's always off-base.
Take his comments after WVU's 37-27 loss to Texas Tech in Week 8, for example. Holgorsen said the Mountaineers lacked the "will" to win. From Dave Hickman of the Charleston Gazette:
In the fourth quarter, when we were up [27-16], we didn't have the will to want to knock them out, Holgorsen said. They had the will to want to win more than we did. And that starts with me.
Yeah, that rubbed some WVU fans the wrong way.
Holgorsen later clarified on a previous Big 12 coaches teleconference that he meant WVU is still learning how to win late. Based on the fourth quarter problems this team is having, he's certainly not wrong and he is accepting responsibility for it.
But Holgorsen raised some more eyebrows Monday when asked about where West Virginia needs to improve.
"We need a lot of things," Holgorsen said, adding that a discussion about the state of the program "would take a long time."
But, again, when you look at what WVU has gone through as a program over the past two years, it's difficult to argue Holgorsen doesn't have a point—even if he communicates it bluntly.
"The transition from the Big East to the Big 12—we knew was going to be challenging," Holgorsen explained. "The Big 12 obviously plays some of the best football across the country. They have top teams with facilities, recruiting and players."
Both Holgorsen and TCU coach Gary Patterson agreed Monday during the latest coaches conference call that it takes two or three years to get familiar with opponents, with Patterson adding it takes another three to five years to catch up in recruiting.
The Horned Frogs, like WVU, are 3-5.
Compounding bigger-picture problems for WVU is inexperience on offense. The Mountaineers lost over 90 percent of their offensive production from a year ago. Defense, which was one of the worst in college football in 2012, is improved, but is being asked to do too much by an offense that can't stay on the field.
Turnover hasn't been limited to the roster, either. Only one of Holgorsen's assistant coaches, offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson, has been with WVU since arriving in 2011. (Wide receivers coach Lonnie Galloway was an assistant under former coach Bill Stewart, but was not part of Holgorsen's original staff.)
"It’s been challenging," Holgorsen said. "I’ve never dealt with it before. I’ve never dealt with this many guys that are new.
Is Dana Holgorsen the right coach for WVU?
"You got a coaching staff that continues to learn how to coach together and game plan together and call plays and react together."
It's all added up into more losses than wins lately for Holgorsen and West Virginia.
But Holgorsen isn't defeated. That's not how he's wired. Is he frustrated? Absolutely, and he has every right to be. For all anyone knows, his team could be getting better each week in practice and it simply isn't translating to on-the-field performance.
Firing Holgorsen in 2013 would be a mistake. It wouldn't fix the uphill battle the Mountaineers face in recruiting, which they've always had, and it could set the program further back. If the last two years have shown anything, it's that West Virginia needs continuity.
Even if it's only to see if that continuity will work.
Ben Kercheval is the lead writer for Big 12 football. All quotes and information obtained firsthand unless noted or linked otherwise. You can follow Ben on Twitter @BenKercheval.
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