MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — By achieving bowl-eligibility, Dana Holgorsen has mitigated the hot-seat speculation that followed last season’s 4-8 disaster.

Now his mission is steering West Virginia out of a two-game losing skid and into a strong finish.

The Mountaineers (6-4, 4-3 Big 12) close the regular season with games against No. 13 Kansas State and Iowa State, providing a chance to play their way up or down the bowl food chain.

While the 33-16 loss to Texas was still fresh Tuesday—and still unacceptable from standpoints of effort and execution—West Virginia already has surpassed its admittedly dire preseason projections. (Included among those was the now-infamous Oliver Luck assertion that a 4-8 repeat could represent improvement based on WVU facing a tough schedule.)

Holgorsen said he wasn’t surprised to see West Virginia, which spent three weeks in the AP top 25, become relevant again.

“News flash for you: We expected improvement as well,” he said.

“I see improvement. I think we’re going to continue to improve, and I think a year from now you’re going to be looking at a team that’s even better than what we’ve got right now.”

Will 2015 be better? Holgorsen referenced that the 2015 senior class will be twice as large as this year’s, and the recruiting rankings appear favorable for next February’s intake. Those are encouraging factors, but what about the sense that West Virginia’s offense—which stands to lose six impact seniors—is headed for a regression?

“What we dealt with last year,” Holgorsen said, “I don’t anticipate ever having to deal with that (again), with so many new players put in position where they have to play as first-year players.”

You can’t fault any coach for pumping up his program’s future, yet this is what we know about next season’s offense:

• It won’t feature Kevin White and Mario Alford, who own 144 of the receivers’ 207 catches (69 percent).

• It won’t have Quinton Spain or Mark Glowinski, the team’s top offensive linemen (for whom no reliable backups exist).

• It will feature a first-year starter at quarterback (or Paul Millard).

That actually looks strikingly similar to what West Virginia’s offense encountered in 2013.

Bye week benefits: The off week will be most beneficial to a collection of West Virginia starters who have rarely left the field all season.

“We’ve got five offensive linemen that have played about 900 snaps. We’ve got a linebacker and three safeties—in Kwit and K.J. and Karl and Dravon—that have all played about 800 snaps, so the snaps are starting to pile up,” Holgorsen said. “Those guys will be practicing, but they won’t be hitting, so it will give those guys a chance to rest up.”

The running backs can use some downtime, too. While a committee approach relieves some of the fatigue, West Virginia averages 85.6 plays per game, second-most to Baylor (89.2) in the Big 12. Wendell Smallwood’s 153 offensive touches are fifth in the league behind Baylor’s Shock Linwood (180), Oklahoma’s Samaje Perine, (165) Texas Tech’s DeAndre Washington (163) and Texas’ running back Malcolm Brown (161).

“Wendell’s wearing down—it’s pretty visible,” Holgorsen said. “And Rushel (Shell) can’t get healthy right now. Thank ankle’s been a nuisance for him for about a month.”

Reflections on WVU’s letdown: What Holgorsen noticed in realtime Saturday was validated by reviewing the loss to Texas on video.

“It was pretty evident that they were ready to play more than we were ready to play. The mindset that this team has done a good job with—with effort, energy, excitement, flying around, having fun, playing the game—existed in the first nine games. It didn’t exist in this one.”

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Comments

  • Referee

    Be careful lady. Anyone who posts their e-mail address on this site cannot be up to any good. Kinda spooky. Even authorities caution computer users against this.

  • wvu fan

    We need a statement game in the worst way against Kansas State...they have out hit us every year. I pray we finish strong this year... We need to punch K-State &Iowa State in the mouth and claimed fourth place in the Big 12....Let's gooooooooooooooooo! Mountaineeeeeeeeeeeers!!

  • jwg66

    I think our as made major improvements. Especially in the second half of our games. And most of our 2 deep is coming back. The D is playing fast & hitting hard again & has helped us get W's even on the road. As for the stats, our opponents are kind of good this year & that has a lot to do with I. Also, the offense has put the D in some pretty poor positions. Realistically, we could have lost the road games to Maryland & T. Tech. Last year's team would have. Hope we come out of the Texas funk & get a W over K State. A night game @ home, I like our chances. Go Mountaineers!

  • Aaron

    At no point do I expect an apology. I don't think you have it in you.

  • nashville cat

    take your meds aaron

  • Mister Man

    LOL!!!!

  • Mister Man

    Marshall doesn't play Kansas State.

  • Mister Man

    The only tough ooc team WVU played was Alabama? LOL!!

  • Susan

    I sent you an email. Waiting on your response.

  • nashville cat

    you really are clueless

  • JimJim

    The Dude doesn't coach scrambling QBs. He coaches dropback QB. If he could coach scramblers Crest would be playing now.

  • Allan T

    Nashville. You make a very good argument.

  • Aaron

    Feel free to email me Susan. aaron.112265@gmail.com

    I will respond with links to my employment page and relevant social media.

  • Steve

    Nashville cat I'll give you credit, you and many other Marshall fans sure do a lot of research on WVU's football program.

    Is MU that irrelevant that you have to spend all your time reading, researching and posting about WVU?

    Pretty pathetic Nashville cat aka mad hatter.

  • nashville cat

    I bet it gets tiresome picking up the garbage everyday,,, at six figures, wow, little boy , you seem to lie a bit

  • nashville cat

    little boy aaron, just go away, you bore everyone on this site, and your pathetic posts make you look like a sad little boy craving attention.

  • Susan

    You are delusional. If any of that information was true you would not have to post it every other day. People who are successful and confident in themselves don't have to talk about it all the time. I think it was you a couple days ago who posted about character. I don't see much character in that post.

  • Big Larry

    Thanks for being there for me....

  • Ole Sasquatch

    Smith may have big time talent, would like to see more playing time for him.

  • Aaron

    Does mtnman mind that you've stolen his screen name Larry? You complain about my post not because of the frequency but because they shed light on how little you know with the various monikers you post under.

    Take this advice. If you do not want to read what I write, don't read it. Unless you specifically respond to one of my post, I rarely read yours. Occasionally though you say something abnormally ignorant as was the case with the comment regarding improvement and out of my civic duty to combat stupidity, I correct your mistake.

    With the frequency of inaccurate and inane comments posted by you sir, it has become my 3rd job. That's why I normally on post on the abnormally ignorant comments. If I were to post on all the trifle you post, I would have to quit my 6 figure salaried job, stop pursuing my masters, break up with my fiance, ignore my 6 adult children and 2 grandchildren and even at that, I do not know if I could keep up.

    Will there be anything else?

  • Mountain Man

    If you would spend half as much time filling out applications as you do gathering useless stats and visiting college football web sites you would have a job. Go back and look at your number of post throughout this season. You literally do this all day everyday. I do not post on here daily but when I do it is your post that liter the screen. I do not know how you look yourself in the mirror knowing you receive unemployment to do this all day.

  • nashville cat

    we will see a week from thurs. if we have improved by beating kstate.... we can't just say we played hard and was competitive, we have to start getting more W's... even huggie figured this out.

  • nashville cat

    just a few stats..

    turnover margin 120th
    total def. 57th
    tackles for loss 89
    red zone D 118th
    scoring D 66th
    kickoff return D 92nd

    improvement, I guess so.
    but what does it matter if you have drowned in 2 ft. of h20 or 20 ft.? you still drowned.
    face it sports fans and aaron if your mom is home to help you read this, we have a long way to go on D just to be average, and throw in special teams...

  • nashville cat

    you're brain is liquid

  • nashville cat

    that's really cute, you're such a whiz kid

  • nashville cat

    he has a job, flipping burgers, haven't you figured that out.

  • nashville cat

    but more important , there are people who only care about mediocrity

  • Shawn H

    Now you're talkin'!

  • any major dude

    If you compare this year's defensive stats with last year's, you will see tremendous improvement. Last year we were -100 in virtually every category. Obviously not good enough but lets at least recognize improvement where it exists.

  • Aaron

    Those who say the only stupid question is the one not ask never read some of the ignorance posted on the internet.

    Total Defense-57th, a remarkable improvement given this unit has ranked in triple digits the past 3 years.

    Passing Defense-17th nationally and first in the Big 12 in passing efficiency, which is remarkable given that a total of 4 Big 12 teams rank in the top 10 nationally passing and WV has ALREADY faced 5 of the top 25 passing offenses.

    Passing Yards per game - WVU ranks 34th nationally in this category, another remarkable improvment given that every QB opposing WVU's pass defense had career games.

    3rd down defense - WVU ranks 10th nationally and 2nd in the Big 12 in large part due to their outstanding pass defense.

    "what part of our defense has improved?"

    Yes, there are stupid questions.

  • Mountaineer Fanatic

    If the team can rest and get back to playing as if they care we can win out.
    LETS GOOOOOOOO MOUNTAINEERS
    BEAT KANSAS STATE

  • the flying dutchman

    take a long walk off a short pier...that should cure the posting thing once and for all.

  • the flying dutchman

    raphie was high enough to see the airplane.....but no he wasnt on it....they had hired a mens room attendant previous to taking off.

  • Ron from Morgantown

    You are focused in the right area with the opponent more of a mystery than the site , but this is still a very fluid situation. How we finish , how Texas finishes , politics ( Does Texas want to play TAM in a bowl if they become eligible ? ) .Does TCU or Baylor get in the playoffs? ; that will also determine our post season location . One thing for sure , we are in a bowl somewhere .

  • nashville cat

    look in the mirror, moron.

  • nashville cat

    rushing defense, 86th

    sacks, 103 rd....

    what part of our defense has improved?

    scoring defense, 66th...

    I guess we have to continue to put lots of points on the board, we don't seem to be able to stop anyone.

  • the flying dutchman

    self acknowledgement of ones limitations is the first step to redemption.

  • Ron from Morgantown

    Not so fast

  • Neil

    The New Buzzword should be new head coach with Mountaineer family,

  • Big Larry

    Am I William?

    No one will ever know!!!!

    ( Ma doesn't allow friends in the basement )

  • Big Larry

    Wish I could quit posting crap...

  • Big Larry

    I'm an idiot.

  • Pete

    This is the time for Dreamius Smith to step up and take over. This is a HUGE opportunity for him right now with Shell hurt and Smallwood worn down and with Trickett not having enough time to complete the long passes. If the stars line up, I would expect a healthy dose of Mr. Smith against Kansas State.

  • NCWVUFAN

    Jay Zero knows absolutely nothing. On some prior poast, hee could not tell the difference between KU and KSU; has no idea what he writes and could not find his butt in the dark using two hands.

    FYI, Jay Zero, MD returned 18 starters from 2013. WVU played them this year at their actual home field and still beat them.

  • Aaron

    I'll note that you added absolutely nothing to the conversation other than to cry because I posted.

    Where I come from that makes you a b....

  • Mountain Man

    Why can't you get a job?

  • the flying dutchman

    dont take this personally but you are an idiot. you're understanding of the game of football could be placed on a pin head and still have room for a band of angels..why dont you take your trolling self and march over to the marshall stories.

  • jay zoom

    all I hear is how tough a schedule the Mountaineers play. the only tough ???????? team they played out of conference was Alabama and they had a few close games so maybe there not really that tough. as for the rest Townson like playing a middle school -- Maryland they lost half their starters from the ass kicking they gave WVU last year. (WOW). The rest are the same the rest of the big 12 schools play. Holgerson cries about the number of snaps certain positions have. what he is actually saying I don't have a quality back up to take his place. People look for a repeat of the 2013 season next year. remember WVU won a couple of games by the skin of their teeth this year and lost a couple as well. FINAL Kansas State 37 --- WVU 20 THANKS OLLIE

  • NCWVUFAN

    I don't think there is any doubt the 2014 version of WVU is better than 2013. W/L record would support that alone. What I would like to see more of is improvement during a particular season. It would be nice to finish a season strong and on a high note.

    In 2012, WVU started 5-0 and then went 2-6 the rest of the way. In 2013, they started 3-2 and then went 1-6. So far in 2014, again started 3-2 and have 3-2 since.

    KSU is the perfect opportunity and remedy to stop the late season slides. This will be a very difficult task but hopefully the extra time off and playing at home will help.

  • 1olewvufan

    We all have our opinions and we are all 2nd guessers.

    Few if any of us have ever coached, and most likely fewer of us have coached D1 college football.

    Here is what I do know. Most of the Top 25 college teams have had a stable coaching staff for several years.

    Institutions that have had stable coaching staffs for 7 years or more are among the Top. WVU hasn't had a stable coaching staff in several years. WVU has changed coaches more frequently than most have changed their underwear.

    In the last 2 or 3 years we have seen a better job of recruiting, which was something that was lacking even before Holgorsen arrived.

    The other thing is none of us know what is really going on and the underlying event that go on from day to day. Thus, we don't know all the facts, and we make assumptions.

    What I'd like see is this same coaching staff be together for 3 to 5 years, for this would get all of us a more rational understanding of future of WVU Football, the coaching and the players. Many of the current players at WVU have played for a different position coach each year, and this is not a good thing.

  • Tom

    Ralphie,
    Were you on the plane? If not, how do you know this? I'm not saying it isn't so, just wondering your source(s).

  • JJ

    I buy that. Next years team will have more guys that have played B12 ball. The D should be tremendous. Having guys in the system from day one is a plus. RB will be stacked once again.

  • JJ

    Coaching is one thing. Gibson in his first year with this scheme and personnel, I don't think it's been bad. Holgs has grown as a coach. The other aspect is leadership on the field, the players are the ones taking the snaps and hits. Maybe Crest will be that guy.

  • Big Larry

    "Love your Work"

  • Big Larry

    Oh Please....

  • In da stickes

    It's almost buck season.

  • earl2

    Lol what good team has Marshall beat?

  • Ron from Morgantown

    Srry V8 but this story has some holes . First - you assume White and Alford are superstars when in fact they just benefited from a good system . Next years new receivers , albeit Freshman, will be twice as good as the receivers mentioned above . Also we have better , more experienced coaches than we had in 2013 - Dana included . To continue- our schedule is far more favorable in 2015 than in 2013 . Also - as mentioned - Our D will be a beast next year with tons of experience and depth ; something 2013 didn't have . DH rolled the rolled the dice with that "jacked up arm " thing and it kinda backfired on him but day 1 in 2015 Crest will be better than any QB we had in 2013 . We are poised to make a serious run at the B12 title in 15 with or without Mr V8.

  • Ralphie

    Dana and Gibson lack the experience to perform under pressure. Leaders step up in the face of adversity and take the blame when things don't work out. Dana continues to chuck his players under the bus. Im surprised he hasn't lost the players respect, maybe he earns it back by getting drunk on the flight home from Texas. He looked so cool drunk on the plane.

  • Protechcpa

    I don't know about the players, but I sure could use a break.

  • troll hunter

    Found one...

  • Charles

    Big deal. Half the teams in the FBS will be bowl eligible. DH job is to be better than bowl eligible. He is being paid almost $3 million.

  • Low Rider

    William…go back to your Marshall lillypad.

  • Aaron

    Yes I have. In addition to Shorts, Thompson and Myers returning, they have at least 2 receivers red shirting now as well as quality receivers that will join the team next year. White and Alford were both in junior college during the tenure of the last group of irreplaceable receivers.

    If Stedman Bailey or Tavon Austin's production can be replaced, why can't Alford and Whites?

  • Aaron

    Yes I have.

  • Bill

    Needed a solid third receiver all year. I thought Shorts would be that guy but he regressed. Time off and playing at home will benefit this team. But I agree, I think they come out on fire.

  • Bill

    Next years D is senior heavy with a lot of experience with the younger players. I would like to see WVU in a position like Baylor where they constantly have a player in waiting. One QB graduates and it's next guy up. I think Crest will bring a different aspect to the game with his scrambling ability. WR could be interesting but there seems to be a lot of talent.

  • The flying dutchman

    No offensive line equals no offense in this league. The games where trickett struggled was where the o line underperformed. I'm not as sold on Spain as you are but glowinski is the rock.

  • WVUinDE

    Has Dana spoke about the terrible defensive scheme that allowed Texas to run all over WVU? That is on coaching, not the players.

  • cutty77

    Dana and this Team has made alot progress. But lets see how it finishes up The season. The Big 12 is twice as tuff as The Big East was.

  • Harpers Ferry

    Spain and Glowinski will be the hardest to replace? Not Kevin White? Really? Have you been watching any of the games?

  • Mister Man

    I think Trickett will pick it up against K State.

  • william

    Great Improvement?
    They ONLY beat one good team -BAYLOR.
    Wow, what a improvement

  • Mister Man

    Six wins, bowl eligible.

  • Aaron

    The hardest replacement on offense will be Spain and Glowinski. While I am certainly making no predictions, I think it would be remiss to count out a 5th year senior that knows the offense as well as anyone.

    If he can get a line that gives him time to get rid of the ball coupled with a running game, there is no reason Millard cannot have the success.

    With a vastly improved defense that loses 2 starters and 5 of the top 25 it would be idiocy to presume next years team will regress.

  • Mister Man

    That's why they stay back and give that to him.

  • Mister Man

    The defenses have figured out that Clint has trouble passing over the middle.

  • Neil

    Help!!! We need a change of guard at the Head Position. He has had 4 years to continue making the same mistakes. Another, melt down!

  • Jim slade

    WVU v. UT in Liberty Bowl

  • Saddlebags

    I hope WVU can close out an 8-4 regular season, they have played tough all season, and lost only by a few point(s) in some games. So Go Mountaineers!!!! You can have a super close-out; bend but don't break.

  • Ole Sasquatch

    I want to see 10 to 15 yd. passes over the middle, along with the quick slant passes. Some of these passes should be done with the QB under center with a 3 step drop back.
    Hopefully the line could give Trickett that amount of time. Right now we're only getting one or two short passes over the middle per game. That's just crazy when this is the kind of pass Trickett is made for.

  • Mister Man

    It's time for a well-deserved break.