Suddenly struggling Mountaineers take stock of troubles
MORGANTOWN -- Following 25th-ranked West Virginia University's football loss to No. 4 Kansas State, head coach Dana Holgorsen saw a number of things his team could have improved on.
Of those things, the big one that stood out was the Mountaineers' level of maturity in the 55-14 defeat. With a big group of freshmen contributing on both sides of the ball, they don't have as much experience as they might like.
"We need to, from a mentality standpoint, grow up," Holgorsen said. "We have to grow and play older than we are. We need the older guys to act older. We need the older guys to bring along the younger guys.
"We need them to be tough when adversity hits."
West Virginia (5-2) has the weekend off. The Mountaineers play next Nov. 3 at home against TCU (5-2). The TCU Horned Frogs play Saturday at Oklahoma State (4-2).
Holgorsen saw his team struggle against a Kansas State squad that embodies the maturity level he'd like to see.
"We played a team that has that mastered. They are the most mature team in college football," he said. "They are mentally tough, and their technique is not lost during the heat of the battle. We can learn a lot from playing a team like that. I have a lot of respect for how they run their program."
WVU used this week to fine-tune some things before turning its attention to TCU.
Holgorsen said the Mountaineeers will get healed up and re-energized for the final five weeks of the season, which will be a grind.
As they usually do in bye weeks, the Mountaineer coaching staff hit the road recruiting players at the high school and junior college levels.
After suffering its second loss of the season, WVU is off to its second-straight 5-2 start. But Holgorsen said this year's 5-2 record with losses to Texas Tech and Kansas State is a little different than last year when the Mountaineers had losses to Syracuse and Louisville.
"Whenever you put two losses like that back-to-back, it is a little different," Holgorsen said. "There are some challenges this year that didn't exist with last year's team, and there were some challenges last year that don't exist with this team."
One of the most obvious differences is the fact that their Big 12 Conference competition is a little different than the Big East teams on the schedule a year ago.
West Virginia has already played as many ranked teams this season as it did last year.
"Basically, it boils down to having to bounce back, and that doesn't happen overnight," Holgorsen said. "This is different because of who we are playing. It is going to take a whole year of going through the Big 12 for everyone to understand the Big 12.
"We are going to focus on trying to get better at things that we are already good at. We will build some confidence because of that."