MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Calling West Virginia’s offensive line “very much a work in progress,” coach Dana Holgorsen said he hopes senior guard Grant Lingafelter and backup center Jacob Buccigrossi are able to return soon.
“I have to see how they’re doing here this week whether they’re going to play this week, next week, or into the bye week,” he said. “Hopefully, it doesn’t last that long.”
Lingafelter started against Virginia Tech but left in the second quarter after a defender rolled up his right knee. Buccigrossi suffered a torn ACL during spring practice.
Despite compiling 614 yards in a 56-20 win over East Carolina, the backups who rotated in showed too steep a dropoff for the coaches’ liking.
“I wasn’t real excited about cutting a couple of (defensive) linemen just absolutely loose when our starting quarterback is in there — that can’t happen,” Holgorsen said. “You can’t whiff and let guys run through the A and the B gap, I mean he’s sitting back there.
“That happened a couple of times too much. But with that said, that’s what you’re going to get when you’re playing young guys.”
Among the first unit, redshirt freshman Josh Sills drew mixed reviews after making his first start at right guard in place of Lingafelter.
“He’s big, he’s tough and he’s going to be a great player for us … but I can’t begin to explain how many things he has to work on,” Holgorsen said. “I’m glad he’s here and he’s going to work hard and all that, but he needs to stay on his feet and do what we ask him to do, and he’s got a long way to go to get to the point where I can say he’s going to do that.”
Dressed to impress
Under the mantra “Look good, feel good, play good,” West Virginia players have adopted a dapper approach for the pregame Man Trip. Gone are the sweatsuits of years past, replaced by blue blazers, khaki trousers and ties.
The wardrobe change came at the urging of Al-Rasheed Benton, Eli Wellman, Grant Lingafelter and Will Grier, who found a willing ear from Holgorsen this summer. Soon the team was being measured by a local men’s shop and outfitted with crisp attire for game day.
“We always holler it’s a business trip and then we would walk in wearing sweatsuits,” Benton said. “If a business trip is the mentality, then we had we need to walk in like that.”
Holgorsen rationalized that many of his players had never owned a suit, and “now they’ll have one to wear to a job interview.” The program expects to make the fittings an annual perk, though not all players were initially excited about dressing up.
“Some guys weren’t feeling it,” Benton said. “Some guys said they would rather be more comfortable, until we actually put the suits on that first game vs. Virginia Tech and they saw how good it looked. I feel like a boss.”
With many players opting for bowties, it created a conundrum — no one knew how to tie them.
“Everybody’s looking them up on YouTube,” Wellman said. “That’s how Justin Crawford learned to do it, and he’s got it down pat now.”
Benton will stick with the necktie: “The bowtie process is too long for me.”
Delaware State on 13-game slide
The Big 12 has experienced cautionary tales involving FCS upsets: Kansas State, Iowa State and Kansas were knocked off in recent seasons, and Baylor lost to Liberty two weeks ago.
Delaware State, however, has barely been competitive against teams from its own level, much less when playing up against the FBS. The Hornets have dropped 13 straight games and 33 of their last 36.
“We always talk about respecting our opponent, so Delaware State is no different than Virginia Tech when it comes to the 140 guys that are in this room,” Holgorsen said.
“It’s the same thing we always face when we play on Saturday – guys being in the right frame of mind to be able to go out there and prove and do their job to the best of their ability. I don’t care who we play.”
White on big brother’s injury
West Virginia senior Ka’Raun White believes there’s a lesson to take from older brother Kevin’s latest injury with the Chicago Bears.
“Football is not forever so I have to make the best of it while I am healthy and can do what I can do,” he said.
Rooting for Sooners
Benton essentially celebrated twice Saturday — WVU’s win over East Carolina, followed by Oklahoma’s 31-16 takedown of Ohio State.
The Sooners promptly climbed to No. 2 in the AP poll.
“I was impressed,” Benton said. “I’m happy about it. I want them to win as many games as possible, until they play us.”