MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - It certainly isn't obvious from a glance at the final score, but Dana Holgorsen said that he watched his West Virginia defense play pretty well Saturday in a 35-12 loss at Kansas State.
Well, for the most part at least.
"Defensively we played well,'' Holgorsen said Tuesday. "On about seven third downs we played poor.''
Those seven third downs, of course, wiped out almost all the good things the defense did on the other 57 plays because they allowed Kansas State to keep drives going. Five of those third-down conversions came during the Wildcats' three straight scoring drives that turned the game around, and all were on down-and-distance plays that favored the defense - third-and-6 or longer.
Changing that dynamic and doing a better job Saturday when West Virginia and TCU match 3-5 records (and 1-4 Big 12 marks) in Fort Worth, Texas, will be a key for the Mountaineers against what appears to be another offensively challenged opponent.
But doing so also could be just as difficult this week as last because the Mountaineers' third-down defense isn't very healthy.
Although injuries can't be used as an excuse, especially at a time of the season when almost every team is banged up, there is no denying that West Virginia is short-handed when it comes to the defensive alignment needed to defend third-and-long situations.