MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – West Virginia found itself in a glass half-full/glass half-empty debate during its open week.
Was it better to have a week off to re-calibrate things after getting thumped 30-14 at Iowa State, or was it worse to have a few extra days for the scent of the loss to linger?
“It’s frustrating because it’s long until you get to play football again,” said safety Dravon Askew-Henry.
“I don’t think it’s the worst,” said right tackle Colton McKivitz. “I actually think it’s the best for us. Because it doesn’t matter who we’re going to play this week. It’s just that determination of it’s time to go get a win. That loss is festering and we’re antsy to get back on the field. That’s been pretty evident in practice.”
It is Baylor (4-3, 2-2 Big 12) that the No. 13 Mountaineers (5-1, 3-1) play on Thursday night at Milan Puskar Stadium, and Dana Holgorsen suspects his team is ready to rebound.
“I’m anxious to see how we’ll respond,” Holgorsen said before upgrading his own confidence level. “I know how we’re going to respond. We’re going to get out there and play our ass off.”
Quarterback Will Grier said the biggest lesson from the Iowa State game is to play more like the Cyclones.
“As a team, their energy and excitement needs to be the way we play football,” Grier said. “I think they out-energied us. We need to be the team with more energy. That falls on me and falls on the leaders. We have to play every snap with that energy like they did and like Purdue did [against Ohio State]. That’s how you win in college football. You play with crazy energy every snap.”
Crazy energy is easy enough to generate at home in front of a national TV audience on a Thursday night.
“At a place like West Virginia, our crowd is awesome,” Grier said. “At places like here and Penn State and others, they affect games with their energy.”
Grier says his most important role as a leader is to make sure that energy carries over to the remainder of the schedule, when West Virginia won’t always have the same advantages that it will this week.
“When you go out on the practice field, you have to have energy every snap,” Grier said. “It’s not easy sometimes. But you have to try and push that into everybody. It’s important. That’s how you win football games.
“If you don’t have that energy and excitement on every play, it’s tough to win. It’s on us to prepare with that energy and show how to attack practice, meetings, strength and conditioning. All of it. It all matters.”
McKivitz agreed with his quarterback’s assessment.
“They wanted it more than us. The energy was there on the sidelines, but we didn’t have it out on the field,” McKivitz said. “That’s something we’ve addressed. And it’s going to be pretty evident on Thursday.”