Coach Dana Holgorsen wouldn't go into specifics - he sharply responded to a question about McCartney's status by offering one of his own: "Why talk about guys who aren't here?'' - and players were reluctant to do so, too. But Bailey, for one, was willing to talk about attitudes in general.
"It is a distraction. When somebody leaves the team in the middle of the season, that's just not good at all,'' said Bailey. "But we don't need dead weight on the team that's not going to come out and help us try to win or bring that energy to the team. We just have to go forward without those guys. We just have to endure.''
Call it an effort to find energy or merely a necessity to fill positions, but Holgorsen went there on Saturday in the case of his receiving corps. The main players were the same - Bailey, Tavon Austin, J.D. Woods and Jordan Thompson - but walk-ons Connor Arlia and Ryan Nehlen also got extended playing time.
And they were targeted, too. Arlia was Smith's receiver on an incomplete bomb down the middle of the field on the game's third play and later made a rather spectacular sideline catch. Nehlen caught only the second touchdown of his career on a pass from Smith in the third quarter.
Perhaps their participation had something to do with what Bailey referred to several times after the game, namely a desire to play.
"We all play this game and love this game. It has to mean something to you,'' Bailey said. "I don't know if it means more to one guy than another, but sometimes when I'm looking at the game from the sidelines and see everything that's happening, I'm just questioning [some of the players] ... 'Come on, man.' That's what makes me question effort sometimes.''
Perhaps it is too late for some of those players. For others, though, it is never too late to right a ship. And it isn't as if a losing streak alters the world.
"I can't be one of those guys who says this is the end of the world. It's not,'' said Smith. "Football's going to go on at West Virginia, it's going to go on in the Big 12 and I'm going to play a lot more football.
"My goal right now is just to break this film down, figure out what I did wrong and correct those mistakes. Everything else will work itself out.''
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickm...@aol.com or follow him at twitter.com/dphickman1