Not Much To Say After WVU’s Loss In Stillwater
Entire text of West Virginia football coach Dana Holgorsen’s post-game on-field radio interview with Jedd Drenning after the Mountaineers squandered a 17-point halftime lead and lost to Oklahoma State, 45-41.
DRENNING: Coach, you don’t see a game end much tighter than that one.
DRENNING: That’s about it here guys. Back up to you.
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MORGANTOWN — Was there really anything Dana Holgorsen could have said at the moment?
To steal his reply, “Nope.”
What do you say when you are hit over the head by a sledgehammer? When you are run over by truck? When the girl you’ve been dating since you were 13 years old runs away and marries your best friend?
What do you say when you are a West Virginia coach?
In truth, the first question that should be asked when you go for your job interview is what you are going to say when your world collapses around you, for it always does.
Ask Rich Rodriguez. Ask Bob Huggins. As Nikki Izzo-Brown. Ask Fred Schaus.
Even when you start up to the mountaintop, you feel as if whichever way you go is uphill.
This was going to be a special year in football. The Big 12 was down, West Virginia was up.
Holgorsen had gathered together the quarterback he always longed for, the receivers who could take the ball into the end zone. He had grown through his years as a coach, his recruiting had gotten to a stage where he could compete talentwise.
Even that loss at Iowa State was bearable, maybe because everything had gone bad at once and there was time left to recover.
But now you were a game away from playing the most important game of your coaching career, the most important game of your players playing careers, and you were facing a 5-5 team, a school where you used to coach.
Yeah, you knew it was going to be a tough game.
“We knew they were going to score a lot of points,” you admitted in your postgame press conference. “That’s what these guys are. Their average Big 12 game is 40 to 39. They have been in all kinds of these games. We haven’t.”
But for some reason you felt with such a mature team, with senior leadership, with a home showdown against Oklahoma looming less than a week away you could handle it.
And you started off as if you would.
By halftime West Virginia had a 31-14 lead. It was running at will, 162 first-half rushing yards.
Kennedy McKoy had become the real McKoy, slashing off double-figure yardage runs one after another. He finished the game with 148 rushing yards and three catches for 54 yards.
Grier was getting you into the right plays and the running game was setting up the passing game and the defense had Oklahoma State not stopped but at least thinking that this would not be as easy as it has been
Then halftime came.
Did it give WVU too much time to think? Was its locker room bugged? Did someone come along and kidnap the real players and substitute some CYO team.
From 162 first half rushing yards they went to 27 in the second half.
All of a sudden the few bad moments of the first half were coming back to haunt you.
In the second quarter you had fourth-and-inches at the OSU five and couldn’t make it on a quarterback sneak.
“You can’t convert on third and fourth and an inch, you are going to get beat,” Holgorsen said.
And then there was a third-and-one play where Grier ran and bootleg, was hit, brought down as the ball came out. Ruled down at first, replay showed he had fumbled and instead of fourth-and-five at the OSU 14 with a chance at a field goal, Oklahoma State had the ball … and when the Cowboys had the ball, they were trouble.
This is especially true when Oklahoma State is converting on third-and-20 and third-and-13 and OSU quarterback Taylor Cornelius made it look like third-and-inches.
At 6-5 and 230 pounds, he made both great throws and great runs and, in truth, was the difference in the game.
Especially at the end, on the last drive when he ran for 17 yards, 14 yards and then threw 11 for the winning touchdown.
Another game, another season, another oh so close to something really special …
If the Mountaineers can bounce back and beat Oklahoma, maybe that will salvage some of it, but it won’t be the same.
It never is.