MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — After consecutive second-half stumbles in which West Virginia lost leads, lost games and lost face, Shaq Rowell said the prospect of missing a bowl game in his senior season “is hitting hard.”

The big nose tackle’s prediction for Saturday’s matchup at TCU? The winner will wind up bowl-eligible, while the loser—though still mathematically alive for the postseason—won’t recover.

“I don’t care if TCU sees this video or not—we have to beat these guys,” Rowell said. “They’re just like us, 3-5. We’re both lagging. Whoever wins this game, they’re going to bowling. Period, point-blank. Whoever loses, they’re not going to go bowling.”

West Virginia has appeared in bowls each of the past 11 seasons, while TCU owns an eight-year streak.

Rowell leveled frustrations over WVU’s meltdowns the past two weeks: Texas Tech closing the game with 21 unanswered points to win 37-27, followed by Kansas State scoring 28 points in the final 18 minutes to run away for a 35-12 victory.

“I believe we’re supposed to be 5-3 and not 3-5 right now,” Rowell said.

While losing three straight games overall, West Virginia’s total defense ranking (452.5 yards) has dropped to 102nd nationally out of 123 FBS teams. The inevitable spate of injuries has contributed to the downfall—WVU was missing three starters against K-State, along with three backups.

“The coaches don’t want to say it, but I’m going to say it: There’s a lot of guys that are hurting on defense,” Rowell said. “We’ve taken so many reps from the offense going three-and-out every other trip, it’s starting to put a burden on the defense.”

Third-down situations have been a pock mark on both sides of the ball: the defense ranking 101st in conversions allowed (44.4 percent), the offense at 111th while converting only 30.3 percent.

“We just need to find a way as a team … The defense needs to get off the field on third down and the offense needs to stay on the field on third down.”

Joe Sadlek/All-Pro Photography

Shaq Rowell (90) says WVU’s spate of offensive three-and-outs has taken a toll on the defense, though he admits both sides need to improve on third downs.
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  • Joe

    We are now paying the price for the 9-3 coach that was fired. 25 unfilled scholarships sitting on the shelf. No depth and a decling ranking in recruiting status. We are now living out that legacy. Holgerson can answer in the next two years when his recruiting begins to pay off or not.

    • Mister Man

      You're not living in a dream world. Good post.

    • John

      Agree 100%. All of a sudden after Stew's death everyone wants to put him on a pedestal. The games WVU was winning during Stew's run were players RR recruited. Give Holg time to build and get his players on the field.

      • Mister Man


      • Jock Strap

        Agree, two more years and Dana will have classes from seniors to freshman, then if it isn't working out maybe a change will be needed.

        • susanf

          Nah, then the Holgertrolls will just come up with more lame excuses why he isn't succeeding. It will be everyone's fault but his.

          • Jock Strap

            If you actually followed the program maybe you would know that Holgorsen has admitted the staff including himself could improve.

    • Dale

      Joe your living in a dream world, wake up and stop drinking the Dana koolaid.

  • WV alum

    Hope this helps. Alumni is plural--more than one. Alum is singular--one.

    How about a story on Women's Soccer team for winning the Big 12 Championship this season!

    • WV alum

      100 % correct. Alum has more than one definition. It can mean male or female.

      Figured alumnus and alumnae would be overkill.

    • PCM

      Half right.... "Alum" is NOT a singular term. Alum is part of a chemical compound.

      "Alumnus" is the word you are looking for.
      "Alumni" is plural.
      "Alumnae" specifically describes female Alumni.

  • Chad

    Kenny, sure lets hire Holiday. He recruits well. But still can't win at Marshall.

    • GoEers

      Recruits well? Last two recruiting classes were ranked in the 80's. Marshall needs to fire it's coaches and AD.

      • John

        Totally agree - GoEers. The best two things to happen in Morgantown was Doc and Steve Dunlap moving on. I still think the best is ahead for the eers. RR didn't exactly have great years until he got his players in place. Realistically I would guess we will be good about every 5 years with 5th year red shirt seniors. The way it was when we were in the real Big East with Miami, Virginia Tech, Syracuse, Boston College, and Pitt.

  • Allan

    This is for Allan Taylor. If the offense communicates with hand signals to call in plays to the offense, does the defense have similar hand signals? Icky's excuse doesn't do it for me, the leader of the defense on the field should be communicating with his secondary as well as the defensive coordinator...I would think? What do you think Allan Taylor??

  • Allan

    As head coach, Dana needs to evaluate his Assistant Coaches and send them packing if they are not getting it done and bring in coaches that will get it done. Friends or no friends, he is the MAN and the buck stops at his doorstep.

  • dallenfive

    Some opinions of a few posters are pretty insightful, and others are mind-blowingly ridiculous. Nevertheless, its entertaining.

  • Kenny

    We don't deserve a bowl. And won't ever get a bcs bowl with the coaching staff as it is. We fire a 9-3 coach. And keep this one only in wv Should have got holiday instead

    • Will

      The 9-3 (really 9-4) coach that was fired was the correct decision based on the competition. The fact that people can't look at more than just the record is frustrating. 9-3 in the '80s and '90s against those schedules was a good year with the occasional great year thrown in, but 9-4 against that competition was firable. He loved WVU as much as anyone and was a great man it appears but was not a top 25 coach as exhibited by the fact that NO ONE came knocking to hire him once he was fired, not even MAC schools.

    • Jock Strap

      Reality check, how many BCS bowls did the 9-3 coach take us to?

      Answer: zero

      • wvu09

        Dana got to go to a BCS bowl with Stewarts team. We're seeing now what Dana's recruits can do...

        • Jock Strap

          And Stew went to one also with RR team so what. Also to address the recruits yes they were juniors and seniors of Stews recruits, guess we will just have to wait and see where Dana's juniors and seniors end up before it all pans out. Lastly my post was not anything bad about Stewart I was just making a point to the previous post.

          • wvu09

            I get where your coming from, I can't disagree with any of that. I was just meaning Holgerson can't rely on that first good season. If he doesn't do a massive turn around next year with the guys he brought here then he has got to be shown door.

  • Vince

    does a team like this really deserve to go to a bowl? c'mon man...

  • Medman

    Just what this program needs. A third tier bowl game that would cost us thousands. But, it would be a great reward for the student athletes, right?

  • DanaNeedsToGoNOW

    WVU is NOT going to a Bowl this year. I'm sorry, I am a WVU alumni, but I choose to live in reality.

  • Bobby M

    After loss to Okahoma he also SAID we could still win Big 12!!! Answer??! Wrong!!!! WHY? Because coachs are AWFUL!

  • Big Larry

    Oliver Luck and Dana "The Man in Black" Holgorsen have succeeded in bringing the WVU football program down to new levels of mediocrity.

    Any bowl and we are happy. Out of 38 bowls this year, WVU players & fans are now happy just to make it to one of them.

    Pinstripe Bowl, Hamburger Bowl, Toilet no longer matters just as long as we win 6 games and go somewhere.

    Whatever Bowl WVU goes to, you can be certain that two horribly bad teams will compete against one another.

    The WVU players and coaches do have a certain swagger, but it is only a cover for their failure as a team.

    Look for WVU to defeat TCU, Kansas and Iowa State...three equally bad teams as well.

    It is what it is...

    • Doug

      A rep for the estate of Johnny Cash is trying to find you Big Larry. Apparently you are being sued for copyright infringement as well as being unoriginal. Johnny Cash is "The man in Black."

      • Shadow

        Is he after Holgerson as an Imposter?

        • Big Larry


          You are correct it Holgorsen not me that they are after...

          1. For impersonating the real "Man in Black" Johnny Cash...


          2. For impersonating a head football coach...

      • Johnny Cash

        I am the Man in Black. Johnny Cash

        • MoMoney

          I hear that train a comin'
          It's rollin' round the bend
          WVU football ain't seen the sunshine
          Since I don't know when.
          I'm stuck in Morgantown, and time keeps draggin' on.
          But that train keeps on rollin,
          Right over the Mountaineers.
          I travel to the games, just to watch them die,
          When I see Holgy take the field, I hang my head and cry.
          Oh, those Morgantown blues.

  • Joe

    Rowell shows far more leadership and guts than any of the coaching staff. This guy has given everything and does not deflect blame or make excuses. Very proud he is a Mountaineer.

    • wvman75

      I agree with some of your post, but also disagree with other parts. He actually said that the coaching staff isn't using injuries as any kind of excuse.

      “The coaches don’t want to say it, but I’m going to say it: There’s a lot of guys that are hurting on defense,” Rowell said.

  • richard

    dream on big guy

  • Coalwiz

    Blunt and correct.