MORGANTOWN - The number of true and redshirt freshmen who have played for West Virginia this season keeps rising. Through seven games, the numbers so far are 12 true freshmen and 20 freshmen overall.
And while that pales in comparison to this week's opponent, TCU, it is likely a record for the Mountaineers.
The reason? Well, it's hard to argue against the fact that a with a head coach and an offensive staff in just its second year and a defensive staff mostly in its first, West Virginia's coaches are anxious to begin incorporating their own recruits into those systems.
But it's also difficult to shake the notion that, with West Virginia suffering through an embarrassing two-game losing streak in which the Mountaineers weren't even competitive against Texas Tech and Kansas State, there is simply a desire to begin building for the future.
That doesn't mean giving up on the present, but all things being equal why not try to rectify the problems that have arisen this season with players who aren't going to soon be gone?
Dana Holgorsen insists it's not a conscious effort to replace upperclassmen with underclassmen, but if that's the way it works out, so be it.
"It's based on what have you done for me lately,'' Holgorsen said. "You make the decision to play who you think is the better player. You have to figure out, is the ceiling higher for a younger kid versus an older kid? It usually is, but that doesn't always mean it is.''
As a point of reference, Holgorsen brought up wide receiver J.D. Woods, a fifth-year senior who had never really played much. Woods had an excellent camp leading up to the opening game against Marshall and earned a spot in the starting lineup. Meanwhile, players like true freshmen Travares Copeland and Devonte Robinson, who showed flashes of great promise, never quite grasped everything they needed to grasp.
But then lately, Woods' production has dropped and the freshmen have improved in practice. So at Texas Tech, Copeland played for the first time and the following week against Kansas State, Robinson followed.