MANHATTAN, Kan. — They were a team that wilted during late-game situations all season. Starved for confidence, doused in doubt, plagued by quarterback questions. Even at halftime of a two-point game Saturday, they worried another frail finish might be forthcoming.

We’re referring, of course, to Kansas State.

“It definitely felt like ‘Here we go again,’” said defensive end Ryan Mueller, waxing candidly about the mindset of a Wildcats team that appeared ripe for another loss. “We had been in this situation before, so how did we want to respond? Do we want the same outcome?”

Fortunately for Mueller and the Wildcats, they were opposite a team even more brittle than themselves. Once K-State caught momentum in the second half, West Virginia folded like a tailgate tent, and the resulting 35-12 final score made it hard to recall how competitive this game was entering the final quarter.

“Credit to Kansas State, especially in the second half, for coming out and taking it to us,” said West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen. After watching his team surrender the game’s final 28 points—just as it had surrendered the final 21 to Texas Tech the previous week—he accurately assessed that such a repetitive storyline “does not happen to good teams.”

West Virginia had seen its fill of good teams during the first seven games, yet players and coaches emitted an undertone this week that the back end of the schedule—with four of five games against sub-.500 teams—was primed for a strong finish. But finishing isn’t in this team’s skill set. Even when paired against a mirror-image Kansas State squad, WVU’s timidity won out.

The 12 points West Virginia posted were 14 below what K-State had been allowing on average this season and only half of what North Dakota State scored in the same stadium on Aug. 30. WVU converted just 4-of-16 third downs against a defense that ranked next-to-last in the Big 12 in stopping opponents on third down. WVU lost three turnovers to a defense that had created only six all season.

Holgorsen has never fielded an offense so ill-equipped for pivotal moments, so unresponsive to pressure, and that realization is eating at him more and more with each fruitless series. This following an offseason in which the assumption—both on the staff and among outsiders—was that WVU would simply plug in the next 4,000-yard passer for the purpose of manufacturing touchdowns. But for the first time in Holgorsen’s career, offensive history isn’t repeating itself.

“We probably gave ourselves too much credit, thought we could coach them up a little bit better,” he admitted. “We thought our continuity would take care of itself by playing together and practicing.”

Defensively, the Mountaineers are an equally vexing mess. K-State managed seven points on Saturday’s first nine possessions, then scored touchdowns on four straight drives of 78, 78, 54 and 64 yards.

Defensive coordinator Keith Patterson sounded next-level flummoxed: “I’ve never seen or been around (a situation) where things can be going so good, and then all of a sudden it’s ‘How in the world did that happen?’ We’ve got these (K-State) guys held to seven points for 70 percent of the game and then we’re losing 35-12?”

At least the defensive lapses seemed explainable against Top-25 teams like Oklahoma, Baylor and Texas Tech; but when WVU came unzipped against one of its languishing neighbors in the bottom half of the Big 12, well, that’s flummoxing to us all.

And it suggests that rock bottom may be further down yet.

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Kansas State receiver Tyler Lockett beat West Virginia cornerback Icky Banks on a 35-yard touchdown pass—one of three scores for Lockett in the 35-12 victory.
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Comments

  • Allan

    I apologize, it's Lame Kiffin.

  • Allan

    I think the defense, once again, kept us in the game for as long as they could...eventually you get tired and make a few mistakes and it costs you. Still, there are some defensive backs who can't cover and we get little or no edge rush. Kiwatoski played a great game, only solid linebacker we have and a few penalties kept KS drives alive. Oliver, you shouldn't make promises you can't keep and I really don't see WVU ever playing for a National Championship..we just can't and don't recruit the players needed for such a lofty goal.

  • Allan

    The play calling has to become suspect after this game and this is the coach's responsibility. We are on the six yard line, first down, have them thinking run and what do we do, we run the ball..great time for a play action pass. Didn't get the tight end in the passing game, we seem to run the same plays over and over...who is calling the plays, Holgerson or Dawson? I think we have another Lame Kiffen on our hands.

  • Jack

    I don't see this team being relevant anytime soon. They seem to be in disarray. It appears to be a combination of lack of Division 1 talent and very poor coaching. ESPN announcers stated Saturday that the only reason WVU has kept some of the games close is because of the other teams mistakes. I don't like to see WVU lose, but we better get use to it. We're going to be in the cellar for a long time.

  • Neil

    Fans need to call the athletic department and voice their opinion. That is what happen to Bill. Good Luck!!!

  • Allan

    A QUATERBACK

    A QUATERBACK

    MY KINGDOM FOR A QUATERBACK

    • Don

      You'd better get a coach to come with him pal. This guy doesn't have clue.

  • Kevin Hinton

    I think they should start by getting rid of Oliver Luck and the whole coaching staff and start over fresh. And the BEST thing they can do is stop selling alcohol in the stadium. What a shame. I will not take my family there as long as that continues. The world is bad enough out there and now I cannot even take my family to a game because I don't want my little girls to see a bunch of drunks cursing and swearing. I would love to take my family to a game, but not as long as they sell alcohol. Do you think WVU has noticed that ticket sales are down? I was at the Texas Tech game, and the stands were only half full. No one wants to drive to Morgantown and see our team lose all the while having beer splashed all over himself. I know I don't.

    • Big Larry

      Kevin,

      No one cares if your little girls come to the games and have to watch or sit next to a bunch of beer guzzling inebriated drunks and then listen to them cuss to high Heaven....

      Its not about that...

      Its no longer about a family atmosphere where family and friends can gather on a nice fall afternoon to watch a football game.

      It's no longer about winning or losing football games or instilling loyalty & pride in the hearts of the fans.

      No...Its not about any of that...

      Its all about..."Show me the Money"

      Its all about revenue that the WVU Athletic Department makes from the sale of alcohol.

      Beer Sales are at an all time high and plans are in the works to open more beer concessions to sell even more beer....

      Sorry friend...but it is what it is.

    • Pat Boyles

      With all due respect Kevin, I saw just as many cursing drunks in the days before beer sales, back in the "pass out" days. What's being consumed in the parking lot is much stronger than what's being sold in the stadium. But of course, we were winning and maybe people were a little more willing to overlook such things back then.

    • Cigarman

      Really, afraid of the big bad beer drinker? Stay home, hopefully you girls won't be scarred by your paranoia.

    • Larry

      I agree, and with big screen tv's and hd, it's much more enjoyable to watch the games at home than to actually go to them anyhow.

  • JL

    Holgorsen banked $225,000 for that performance Saturday while Joe DeForest was paid a measly $41,667. What a value.

  • JHT

    I love the EERs, I always have, but that team, including the coaches are a train wreck. WVU is in the Big 12 because of big money. They do not belong there. We need to get use to 4-8, 5-7, or 6-6 records each year in football. I am honestly at an all time low as a fan. I will continue to pull for them and wish them the very best but it is just a sad day to be a Mountaineer. That was horrible yesterday.

    • Wayne

      I'm sorry I have to agree with JHT, but this reminds me of another assistant coach being given a chance to be a head coach, but doesn't succeed. It's too bad Luck doesn't recognize this, get the money men moving, and get a legitimate head coach like Charlie Strong.

  • susanf

    I see a striking similarity between Holgerson and Huggins - and I don't like either one of them - and that is they both are always so negative and making nasty comments about the team after every loss. Now that's a good way to motivate and inspire your team! Even if they lose, surely they could find something positive to say about something or someone! I call Huggins "Eeyore", because he reminds me of the eternally gloomy character from Winnie the Pooh, who also happens to be a donkey - kind of appropriate, don't you think??
    And Holgerson certainly has no room to criticize anyone's performance except his own!

  • Rick

    “We probably gave ourselves too much credit, thought we could coach them up a little bit better,” he admitted...Now how dumb of a comment is that. At this point week after week, it's not the players fault anymore it's the coaching...Coaches, YOU SUCK.

    • Dananeedstogo

      Ya, but they can out-party any coaching staff in the country.

  • The Bowl Nutzi

    Mountaineers -- NO BOWL FOR YOU!!!!!

  • William

    Dana Holgorsen, I’ve Seen Enough

    Roy G Edwards | Oct 7, 2013 | Morgantown, WV

    West Virginia has become the laughing stock of the BIG12, and it only took less than two years.

    A once proud national championship and BCS bowl contender, WVU, has now become the target of a “rebuilding” era; at least that’s what the “die hard’s” tell me. A sensative subject, indeed, the Mountaineers now find themselves 3-3 overall with a 1-2 record in conference. Although the University has not fallen to the ranks of Kansas in the football standings, at least Kansas has a basketball team to fall back on; as Kansas landed the number one over all recruit Andrew Wiggins. Basketball season is not something the WVU faithful are looking forward to.

    Just one week after defeating the number 11 team in the country, Oklahoma State, the Mountaineers lay an egg against a very good football team in Baylor. Some might look at this and think it’s tough to win on the road, and make excuses of rebuilding. One thing is for certain, the Baylor team who defeated the Mountaineers Saturday lost a Heisman quarterback just a year ago, and some how got better.

    In today’s college football there is no such thing as a “rebuilding” year. Does Alabama rebuild? If an SEC school went through a “rebuilding” year, the head coach would be fired. Just ask Auburn, as they fired head coach Gene Chizik after just three seasons. One of those season he brought the University a National Championship.

    A .500 record won’t cut it. Too many recruits don’t want to rebuild, they want the platform for them to shine and move on to the next level. You don’t see the four year players anymore, and when you do, they’re Tim Tebow or Andrew Luck, once in a generation players. If you depend on a once in a generation player, you’ll become a once in a generation team.

    The Mountaineers and Dana Holgorsen were dealt a golden egg. He laid 70 points on Clemson in the Orange bowl his first season, has an uptempo offense and had headlines from every major publication. What did he do with this momentum? Nothing. He put together a recruiting class that ranked 48th in the country and brought in no five star recruits and only one 4 star. The average star recruit brought in was a 2.93 (according to Rivals), a recruiting class that fell a spot from the 2011 class which Bill Stewart recruited in a coaching transition year. His lone QB recruit was Ford Childress, and he lost recruit Devonte Robinson to a JUCO. In a “rebuilding” year you don’t lose recruits, you gain them.

    The year after his Orange Bowl victory, Holgorsen recruited Chavas Rawlins, a duel threat quarterback out of Pennsylvania who left the team before he ever got his shot. Rawlins now plays for Duquesne University.

    Dana was able to put together his first “good” recruiting class in 2013 as the Mountaineers ranked 25th in recruiting, with players like Mario Alford seeing the field. However the current rankings of the 2014 recruiting class again saw WVU fall back into the 40′s, not a place you want to be in a “rebuilding year”. In case you were wondering in 2009 and 2010 in the Big East the West Virginia recruiting class ranked 27th both years, moving to the Big12 has had no real effect on recruiting.

    Never mind recruiting, let’s take a look at the on the field play. West Virginia has now started 4 different quarterbacks under Dana Holgorsen and three different running backs. The defense has given up record numbers, which could be attributed to playing in the BIG12 where some of the nations top offenses play, however West Virginia gave up 309 yards to William and Mary in week one, a number that William and Mary was unable to duplicated in a loss to Villanova this past week, as the tribe put up 271 total yards. The defense has improved from last season, but that is not saying much. The current defense ranks 78th in the country, giving up 28.5 points per game, a stat that yes took a hit after the Mountaineers gave up 73 points to the Baylor Bears.

    The Offensive side of the ball does not look like the Dana Holgorsen offense we were all promised, as the Mountaineers currently rank 95th in total offense, scoring 24 points per game; again another statistic that has shifted from a 42 point performance Saturday.

    Bottom line, Holgorsen hasn’t gotten the job done and has digressed in his third season. So why isn’t his head being called for? Well, it has only been six games since the Mountaineers have lost starting quarterback Geno Smith and wide receivers Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey to the NFL. But people forget that when Pat White and Steve Slaton left, we had replacements on hand. Jarrett Brown and Noel Divine and Shawne Alston were there to fill the shoes of those who left. Being a head coach means looking three years ahead, while you put the best possible team on the field. It is a difficult job that many coordinators are not cut out for. I fear that Holgorsen is better off a coordinator.

    Who was groomed for the take over of Geno Smith? Who was groomed for the take over at the wide receiver position? The answer is no one, and that’s where my issue with this coaching staff lies. The good teams don’t rebuild, they reload; and as cliche as that sounds, it is the truth. So either you admit that West Virginia doesn’t have the coach of the future at the head, or that West Virginia isn’t a good football program. I for one refuse to admit the latter.

    So what is the solution to all of this madness? Why should bringing in a new face be any different? Well, there are many reasons to bring in a new face.

    For one, it can’t hurt recruiting. There is no one on this current squad that would feel hurt or let down if Holgorsen were to leave, in fact we have already began to see recruits opt for JUCO schools over fully committing. The current players are hungry to be great again, and bringing in a new coach wouldn’t change that.

    “We will have to learn a new system”. Yes, they would. However we have a quarterback right now who is doing that very thing, and getting benched for it. If you watch the games on Saturday you know that this system isn’t there. In fact, there is no system. This is simply a case of a coach having too crazy a playbook for his own good. Here we sit at week 6 and our transfer quarterback can’t learn what to do? How is that possible when Florida State has a red shirt freshman quarterback who is running theirs to an undefeated season? Or how did Russel Wilson switch systems his senior year and lead Wisconsin to a bowl game, and set a Wisconsin record for passing touchdowns, second in the B1G to only Drew Brees? Oh by the way he also set an FBS record for passing efficiency that year. It’s not the learning time frame. It’s either the players aren’t any good, or the coaches aren’t.

    So who do we bring in? Well, Pat White brought up Lane Kiffin. I would hope Pat White means is comparing the situation to USC and Lane Kiffin and not bringing him in. While recruiting would most likely go up and Kiffin has the football mind, unless his dad is coming with him I’d pass. That does leave multiple other names however. How about names like Bobby Petrino, who is looking for an upgrade and is a proven winner; what about someone like Pat Fitzgerald of Northwestern, a team who is on the rise and has continually covered the spread (something that still has WVU boosters loving Rich Rod). Or what about the good ole boy Rich Rod himself, while I joke about #BringBackRichRod on twitter (@SMCMorgantown), you have to throw the name out there. He is currently at a job he wouldn’t mind leaving at Arizona, and let’s face it West Virginia is his home. While it might sting to hear his name, believe me I still hate him too, he took the Mountaineers from a similar position and brought them to national champion contention. Dana Holgorsen was fed to us by some as “possibly the greatest coach in West Virginia History” I’m sorry, I’m not buying it.

    • Bobby M

      WOWL and WOWL! Am I Suppose to READ all of THAT??!??!?!?!??!? I think your trying to STEAL the job of the GUY who wrote THE artical!!!!

    • 1095golf

      AMEN !!!!!

    • Big Larry

      Excellent Post!

    • Cigarman

      What he said '

    • Richard

      Let me shorten the above post. Coach Foldgerson is playing a tougher schedule than Coach Stew. Oliver Luck is correct 9-3 is not acceptable in the Big East. 9-3 would be acceptable is the Big 12. Problem is Foldgerson will never get us to 9-3.

    • JM

      I agree. We may want to give Jimbo Fisher a call. Per Travis Jones on last sunday nights Sportsline, He agreed to coach WVU until Pastilong wouldn't pay the FSU buyout. Also think RR would Love to come back, and I'd love to see him.

      • College Ave

        There seems to be an assumption that just because a guy is from WV his life's dream has to be to coach WVU. Jimbo Fisher is a pretty smart guy -- I have to believe he realizes that FSU was, is, and always will be, a better job than WVU. But heck, let's go ahead and call him. And while we're at it, let's see if Nick Saban would leave Alabama for Morgantown.

        And it's hilarious how people hated RR for having the nerve to leave WV for a better job but suddenly love him again.

    • GregG

      At this point, Rod...... Carey looks good to me!

  • ducks in a row

    “We probably gave ourselves too much credit, thought we could coach them up a little bit better,” he admitted. “We thought our continuity would take care of itself by playing together and practicing.”

    ^^^ really?

    • Jimbo F

      basically a nice way of saying these guys suck and there isn't anything we can do about it now. He can't say that of course, so we get this coach speak to try and fend off the questions

  • Robin

    I say this every week Allan. Our corners and safeties do not look for the ball. They are beat at almost every turn and when the ball is in the air and the receiver turns to look for the ball the defense is either catching up or have their backs to the ball.

    We can't run, can't throw, can't tackle and a lot of that falls back on coaching. Just not good.

    I remember Luck stating the reason for changing coaches was WV was tired of finishing 9-3 every year. Yet one year after and with all his recruits DH will be lucky to finish at 500.

    • Jonesy

      Doesn't look like we will have to worry about going 9-3 anytime soon. The other thing all the big $ donors were upset over was not making it on 3rd and 2 and not scoring enough points. They sure showed ol' Stew how to do it "right"