"And the three young guys will continue to get better. They struggled in the game [at Baylor], but they'll get better. They're not at the point where they can be overly productive. It's hard to play that position that young. We're inconsistent, but we need them to keep pushing.''
One of those linemen won't be pushing during the first half of Saturday's game with Texas Tech. Pankey won't be playing.
That's a result of the first instance this season of the NCA's new targeting-ejection rule affecting West Virginia. Pankey was tossed from the second half of the Baylor game for cracking back on a defensive lineman who was chasing the quarterback and leading with his helmet.
"He was peeling back and it was a defenseless defender, so I agree [with the call],'' Holgorsen said. "He's a large guy. He wasn't malicious about it, but he hit him. He hit him head-to-head and couldn't stop himself. You have to turn your shoulder.''
Safety Darwin Cook was also flagged for what was deemed targeting, but the ejection was overturned by the replay official. Holgorsen called the initial ruling "horrendous'' and 'the worst call ever.''
The ejection rule calls for a player ejected in the first half of a game to sit out the rest of that game. A player ejected in the second half, as was Pankey, sits out the rest of that game and the first half of the next.
When West Virginia was pummeled 37-0 at Maryland and then came back a week later to upset then-No. 11 Oklahoma State, Holgorsen praised the seniors for keeping things together.
After a 73-42 loss to Baylor, it's no less critical now.
"I made reference to how well they were doing when we came back from Maryland embarrassed and disappointed,'' Holgorsen said. "Cook, Shaq Rowell and Will Clarke, Doug Rigg, Pat Eger, Curtis Feigt, Nick Kindler, Charles Sims, they all did a great job. Those seniors did a great job.
"But the leadership doesn't have to come from seniors. They can be juniors, sophomores and even freshmen for all I care. We did a great job coming back from Oklahoma State. Then we took a step back going and playing in a very difficult situation and we weren't up for the challenge.''
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickm...@aol.com or follow him at Twitter.com/dphickman1