Writing the Story of WVU – TCU
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The shoe was on the other foot.
Dana Holgorsen is pretty comfortable as a football coach, especially on a Saturday afternoon when his West Virginia Mountaineers had beaten TCU, 47-10, before 60,007 shivering fans at Milan Puskar Stadium, to go 8-1 on the season.
So it was, as he did his Saturday sparring with the press, who often are more offensive than were the Horned Frogs in this Big 12 game, that a reverse was thrown to him.
“Let’s say that we do a little role reversal,” piped up a veteran — which is an synonym for elderly — reporter. “If you had to write my story today, what would you center on?”
“I don’t want your job,” he began.
He might have added that he didn’t want to trade salaries, too, but after pausing briefly to think about it, he offered up this as his story angle.
“TCU doesn’t get beat like that. Gary said that as we shook hands after we beat them here (34-10) two years ago. This is like their worst loss in three decades. I think that tells you where our team is right now, where our program is right now.”
Indeed it does.
WVU finished 7-6 last year but there were a lot of extenuating circumstances, not the least of which was Will Grier’s injury in the Texas game that led to three straight losses.
This year, things are different, save that rather embarrassing hiccup at Iowa State.
The offense is an eight-cylinder Porsche, humming along with Will Grier at the wheel, a Heisman candidate who weekly has at least 300 passing yards in his right arm. With 343 yards in this one, he has tied Geno Smith’s WVU record of 17 300-yard performances.
His three touchdown passes gives him 15 games in which he has thrown three or more in a game.
But he surely is not alone. The offense has been retooled and fine tuned, running and passing the ball.
While the running numbers are not gaudy, they serve the purpose of setting up things in the passing game or keeping teams from dropping too many back deep. Kennedy McKoy, Martell Pettway, Leddie Brown and Alec Sinkfield may not be “The Four Horseman” but they aren’t the Budweiser Clydesdales either.
And, with the Mountaineer defense nearly pitching a shutout, the only touchdown coming after a punt touched a Mountaineer blocker downfield, which allowed TCU to recover deep in West Virginia territory and score, they are number one or two with Iowa State as the best defenses in the league.
Certainly Holgorsen would include his defensive coordinator Tony Gibson in any story he would author about his team.
“Tony Gibson has arguably done as good of a job as any defensively coordinator in college football,” he remarked.
There were no nays in the room, and certainly none in a TCU locker room that had just been held to minus seven rushing yards, the first time a WVU defense has held an offense to sub-zero rushing yards since Sept. 18, 2010, when Maryland managed to gain (?) -10 rushing yards.
“Another day at the office,” is the way linebacker supreme David Long put the performance.
“The defense continues to show up and play with passion and with juice and we feed off that,” the appreciative Grier said. “As a team, we have to continue to build off this as whole, play off that passions and energy and effort and finish strong.”
Gibson, the Mountaineers’ “Doctor of Defense” had a rough week at Texas, giving up 41 points but surviving, 42-41.
“After what happened there we were obviously relieved this week,” Gibson said.
Relieved, but not surprised.
“I knew we would play like we did today,” he said. “If we hadn’t I would have been shocked. We were coming home. We owe TCU. They were ready to play.”
Do not understate the importance of the venue to the performance.
“We’re really good at Mountaineer Field,” Gibson said. “I think the most points we’ve given up at home were to Youngstown State.”
That’s kind of correct. Kansas actually scored 22 but there should be an asterisk on that score as they not only scored on the game’s last play but then went for and made a two-point conversion that meant absolutely nothing.
Other than that WVU gave up 17 to Youngstown, six to Kansas State, 14 to Kansas (except for that last score with no time left and backups in), 14 to Baylor and now 10 to TCU.
If they can beat Oklahoma State on the road next week, they have Oklahoma and its high-powered offense at home for the season-ending showdown.
That will put a -30- on the story Dana Holgorsen is writing this year.