WVU must salvage season quickly
Published: Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, October 24, 2012 08:10
After two consecutive losses by a combined 76 points, the West Virginia Mountaineers’ season is indeed in turmoil, but it’s certainly not over yet.
The Mountaineers’ have undoubtedly faltered and fallen flat in their last two Big 12 conference matchups, but don’t expect the team to completely go away down the stretch, despite its notoriously beleaguered defense and the recent plights of its normally efficient offense, which has recorded season lows in two consecutive games.
Yes, a national championship is virtually out of reach at this point, and with the way "Optimus Klein" and Kansas State are playing, a conference championship for the Mountaineers in their inaugural season in the Big 12 could be just as unattainable.
But the fact that a national or conference championship is potentially unattainable certainly doesn’t mean a season’s goals are now completely impossible. And two consecutive losses, regardless of how bad they were, should never be a reason to just wash an entire season. In fact, the Mountaineers have been consistently inspired and motivated by adversity and collective doubt in recent years.
It’s also important to keep in perspective what’s specifically happened to WVU in their last two games, because it’s not like the Mountaineers dropped two in a row to inferior opponents. On the contrary, it’s been two of the better teams in the country and certainly the conference that has, for the most part, exposed the glaring holes of the Mountaineers’ defense, specifically within the secondary.
Because of these glaring exploitations, the reputation of West Virginia’s new defensive coordinators, Keith Patterson and Joe DeForest, are already coming under fire from West Virginia’s fan base. But as head coach Dana Holgorsen pointed out after getting blown out for the second time in as many weeks, it’s not as though the Mountaineers’ assistants have forgotten how to coach overnight.
The truth is, the Mountaineers are in the midst of several major transitions as a football program, and those transitions are simply proving to be a bit rockier than initially expected.
Remember, DeForest and Patterson have been tasked with implementing an entirely new defensive scheme from what most of the Mountaineers’ defensive players have been used to their during the majority of their careers in Morgantown. The immediate results on the field have been clear; many of the players are still adjusting to where they are supposed to be in coverage at any given time.
To make matters even more difficult, the Mountaineers are also in the midst of another transition: their well-publicized migration to the Big 12.
And although there certainly were some capable athletes in WVU’s former conference homestead, the Big East, the Big 12 has obviously proven to be a completely different realm in regard to speed, talent and production, especially at the wide receiver position. It seems as if the Mountaineers’ defensive recruiting is just a step behind their first year in the conference.
In other words, WVU simply doesn’t have the talent at cornerback or safety to keep up with some of the best athletes in the entire country.
Even though the Mountaineers’ players may be a bit overmatched at some positions and have indisputably been outmatched on the field the last two weeks, that doesn’t mean that the season is not already over or that WVU won’t be competitive down the stretch.
The Mountaineers have the luxury of a much-needed bye this week, where they’ll be able to completely regroup and prepare for a number of quality opponents ahead, which includes the likes of fellow first-year Big 12 member TCU, No. 8 Oklahoma and the incumbent Big 12 conference champions Oklahoma State in Stillwater, Okla.
WVU is obviously going to need more than some quick fixes to take down these talented opponents, but if history has shown us anything in the last few years, adversity has been one of the Mountaineers’ biggest motivators.
And with two of the worst losses in recent memory in West Virginia’s last two games, expect the sliding Mountaineers to be as motivated as possible and play with a chip on their shoulders as they try to salvage what began as one of the most anticipated seasons of football in school history.