Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Sports column

October 24, 2012

Column: Holgorsen wants 'mental toughness'

MORGANTOWN — “We need to grow up. We need to be a mature football team.”

That’s what second-year head coach Dana Holgorsen said of West Virginia’s Mountaineers, who have an open date this weekend.

After sweeping its first five games handily and being ranked No. 5 in the nation, WVU was upset at Texas Tech 49-14 and then lost at home to Kansas State 55-14 last Saturday night.

As a result, the Mountaineers are 5-2 overall, 2-2 in the Big 12, and have fallen all the way down to No. 25 in The Associated Press poll.

It is believed to be the longest drop of a team in mid-season of college football polls history. But the coaches insist there’s nothing wrong with their schemes.

“No one is happy about it in talking about it from a program standpoint with the coaches and players.

“But we need to grow up. We need to become a mature football team. We got beat by two mature football teams.”

He called Texas Tech a very good team and Kansas State “maybe the nation’s best team.” Time will tell, he added.

“We need to be tough, physically tough,” Holgorsen continued. “You’re not going to just wake up and fix things without hard work.

“So you’ve got to get up early and get back to work. We’ve got to get our fundamentals better, our techniques better, and we’ve got to get our confidence back.”

The Mountaineers practiced Tuesday and will do so today and Thursday. Most of the WVU coaches will be recruiting Friday and Saturday.

Holgorsen hinted that West Virginia may start bringing in recruits who are more mature, a recently new twist to college football recruiting.

WVU could be widening the scope of recruiting, far beyond that of past years before collegiate athletics became big, big business.

“We have to improve ourselves each and every day,” Holgorsen stated. “We must get ourselves in that position.”

He believes the Big 12 is a major move from the Big East by comparison and poses problems that are new to WVU

“It is a challenging conference, which we already knew it would be,” he said. “We’ve got to make sure we can be competitive on all three side of the ball each week, physically and mentally.”

Geno Smith, WVU’s senior quarterback, is especially finding it difficult to handle the two back-to-back blowouts.

“It’s one of those things where we reached our low,” he lamented. “This is about as low as it gets. I’ve never had to deal with adversity like this.

“I’ve never lost two in a row in this manner.”

WVU will resume action on Saturday, Nov. 3, at home against Texas Christian (5-2, 2-2 Big 12). Kickoff time has not been set.

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