To correct the litany of “junior-high mistakes” West Virginia committed against Oklahoma State, Dana Holgorsen and his staff went back to teaching junior-high principles.
For a bounding kickoff, Holgorsen told his returners: “It’s a live ball, so field it and run forward.”
For the players covering punts: “When they get inside the 5, they catch it and down it before it goes into the end zone.”
For his own kickers, whose squibbers looked more like onside kicks: “We worked on our kickers putting their foot on the ball and then going downfield.”
Though it sounds mind-numbingly basic, these types of mistakes basically cost West Virginia a chance to beat Oklahoma State on Saturday.
“It’s all elementary stuff,” Holgorsen said during Tuesday afternoon’s news conference. “Should we have to work on that? Yes, I guess. We kind of took some of that stuff for granted, which I’ll take responsibility of that.”
Holgorsen’s responsibility now is re-energizing a team that has lost four consecutive games and sunk toward the bottom of the Big 12. And it’s a journey of problem-solving discovery for Holgorsen himself, considering he has never been through this type of slump as a college assistant.
“No, I haven’t,” he said. “It’s not a lot of fun for anybody. But the only way to get out of it is to work hard, and that’s what our coaching staff’s doing. We put in a long day Sunday, we put in a very long day yesterday and we’ll put in a very long day today.”
All that, in hopes of avoiding a long day next Saturday, when No. 12 Oklahoma makes its first trip to Morgantown.