Holgorsen makes return to Stillwater as Mountaineers take on Oklahoma State
Published: Friday, November 9, 2012
Updated: Friday, November 9, 2012 08:11
For the second time this season, West Virginia head football coach Dana Holgorsen will lead his Mountaineers into familiar territory as they travel to his old stomping grounds to take on Oklahoma State.
Holgorsen served as Oklahoma State’s offensive coordinator for one season before leaving to become West Virginia’s offensive coordinator and head coach-in-waiting at the end of the 2010 season.
"I felt that in order to get a job like the one I’m fortunate enough to have now, it would take being a coordinator at a higher level," Holgorsen said. "I took that opportunity (at Oklahoma State). I wasn’t going to go there for a year and leave for the same job. It was going to take a job like this for me to leave the situation I was in."
The Mountaineers will look to get back in the win column against the Cowboys after losing three straight games for the first time since 2004.
After two straight blowout losses to Texas Tech and No. 2 Kansas State, West Virginia went down to the wire with TCU last week when it lost 39-38 in double overtime.
"It’s a tough loss," Holgorsen said. "It was tough in the locker room after the game. We got together at 3 (p.m.) on Sunday and told them we have three more hours to be upset. I don’t know how else you deal with it."
West Virginia looks to use Saturday’s game as its chance to return to the form it was in through the first five games of the season. The Mountaineers started the year as one of the most dangerous offenses in the country, averaging 52 points and more than 570 yards per game.
Since then, senior quarterback Geno Smith and company have struggled to continue that momentum. In their three losses this season, the Mountaineers are scoring 22 points per game, and they have scored just six touchdowns in their 39 possessions in regulation during their three losses.
"Trust in the system and trust in people being in the right spots are a big thing," Holgorsen said. "We have to execute, and it’s harder to execute when you play tougher defenses.
"You have to elevate your game, and that’s coaching. We have to get it out of them. When things get harder, we have to play better."
West Virginia will take on another tough defense this week, as the Cowboys are currently ranked No. 38 nationally in total defense.
On the other side of the ball, the Mountaineers will prepare to take on an Oklahoma State offense that has continued to run a similar system.
"It hasn’t changed much at all. Just looking at it on tape, there are some specific things that they do better than what we do," Holgorsen said. "It’s the same offense. If you look at it the very closely, it’s called the same, and a lot of the routes are the same."
That could be beneficial to a West Virginia defense run by co-defensive coordinator Joe DeForest, who spent the last 11 seasons as a coach in the secondary in Stillwater.
The Mountaineers are looking to carry over the momentum they gained against TCU. They forced seven three-and-outs and three turnovers against the Horned Frogs in what DeForest and fellow co-defensive coordinator Keith Patterson called "one of the most impressive performances of the season."
"It comes down to the effort being there. I don’t want to put it all on the players; you can’t put it all on the players. Our job is to get them in the proper mindset to play determined, motivated and with tremendous effort and to get the right people out there and try to put them in the right situation," he said.