Holgorsen wants more maturity
MORGANTOWN - Dana Holgorsen seems to pride himself on doing things a bit differently than a lot of other college football coaches. Chief among those, perhaps, is how he teaches offense.
But after two straight weeks of watching his West Virginia offense parked in a garage and his defense ripped to shreds, there's at least one thing he wishes the Mountaineers would try to emulate.
Call it maturity. Holgorsen certainly did.
He thought back to Saturday's 55-14 blowout loss at home to Kansas State and the biggest thing that stuck with him was the maturity with which the Wildcats played. It was in stark contrast to that of his own team, which for two consecutive Saturdays has all but given up in the face of adversity.
"There's a whole bunch of things that stand out about them. They're one of the best teams - maybe the best team - in the country, I don't know. Time will tell," Holgorsen said Monday during the Big 12's weekly coaches teleconference. "But it's just a real mature team. You knew they were going to be physical coming in. You knew they were going to be disciplined. You knew they were going to play smart and not beat themselves. But it's just a very mature football team.
"They're very business-like, they executed well, but they were physically tough, they were mentally tough, they handled themselves well. It's just a really good all-round good football team with no weaknesses.''
And that, Holgorsen seemed to be saying, is a far cry from his own.
"My message to our football team after the game was that we need to grow up. We need to become a mature football team,'' Holgorsen said. "We got beat by a mature football team and we need to become a mature football team.''
In some ways, it's a wonder that the Mountaineers aren't already that. This is a team that is dominated by seniors and veterans on offense. And while the defense is certainly not in that category - not with new starters sprinkled into a new system with new coaches - it's not entirely the fault of that defense that the Mountaineers have now dropped back-to-back games by a combined score of 104-28 to Texas Tech and Kansas State.
The defense was really no better in the season's first five games and it didn't matter because the offense simply went back to work and outscored everyone. But now the offense isn't doing that.
And that, Holgorsen seems to believe, is not as much a matter of talent or execution as it is simply a mindset - one the Mountaineers no longer seem to have.
"We need to be mentally tough, we need to be physically tough and we need to improve ourselves each and every day,'' he said. "It's a deal where you're not going to wake up and just fix things without hard work. So we have to get back to work. We have to get our fundamentals better, we've got to get our technique better and we've got to get our confidence back.''
West Virginia at least has some extra time to attempt to do just that. The Mountaineers are off this week before resuming play a week from Saturday at home against TCU. After that are games with Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, Iowa State and Kansas.
And so between now and that stretch run, Holgorsen will not only attempt to fix the issues that have plagued his team's offense and defense, but those he believes have crept into their minds, as well.
"It happens with young kids,'' Holgorsen said. "I mean, young kids don't know how to be mentally tough. It takes being in those situations to really understand it. It's hard to really compare ourselves with Kansas State because they're a mature team and we're not right now.
"From a program standpoint and a teamwork standpoint, that's kind of the model right now. And we'll strive hard to get ourselves in that position.''
All four will be televised, but it will be next Monday before WVU-TCU, Oklahoma-Iowa State, Oklahoma State-Kansas State and Texas-Texas Tech are placed in windows of noon, 3:30 and 8 p.m. on ABC and 3 p.m. on Fox.
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him at Twitter.com/dphickman1.