'Getting Our Mind Right'

Three weeks ago, it looked as if no one would stop the West Virginia offense.

The Mountaineers were on the verge of something great offensively. After five straight wins and scoring 42 or more points in all but one games, it looked like nobody could keep tabs on all the weapons.

WVU was first in passing efficiency, second in passing offense, third in total offense and fifth in scoring offense. And it was a sight to behold.

Two weeks later, the Mountaineers have put up only 14 points in two-consecutive contests. That hasn't happened since 2010 when it put up 14 and 13 in losses to Syracuse and Connecticut.

It's like a completely different team.

So, what's the deal with that?

West Virginia has gone through a slew of injuries on offense that has caused for some swapping of roles. The biggest two are wide receiver Stedman Bailey and running back Shawne Alston, but the bye week could've been the perfect medicine for these two. There are other injuries that have popped up throughout the season, and they've made it tough for a team that lacks depth overall.

Head coach Dana Holgorsen doesn't use that as an excuse.

"I didn't know that our offensive problems were incredibly affected by one guy. Are we better with Stedman out there at 100 percent? Yes. Are we better with 100 percent out of Shawne Alston? Yes. Is that the reason we lost? No," Holgorsen said. "There are a whole bunch of things that go into, but we are working hard to fix it." Some players this week said that West Virginia was simply "not having fun out there" and "not using the fundamentals we learned."

"With the bye week, that's all we focus on, just getting back to the fundamentals of the game, getting back to square one," said center Joe Madsen. "The bye week is a lot like camp, you're almost coming in to the first week again. It's kind of nice to get back into the film room and start studying."

Perhaps one of the biggest, most glaring issues in the two losses was the fact that they came in blowout fashion. The Mountaineers were considered by many to be out of the contest at halftime.

"You just have to keep playing. That's all we can do. If we keep winning, we'll finish 10-2, and that's the best record that we've had since I've been here," said offensive lineman Jeff Braun. "You just have to keep playing and keep pressing and try to win games."

The bye week could've been exactly what this offense needed to be able to focus back on the things that were working and forgot those that weren't. Madsen said West Virginia got away from what it did so well in the first few games of the season – working quickly and tiring other teams out. That is something that could come back versus TCU this week.

Braun said the extra week – and a few days away from the football field – ignited the fire for the team once again.

"There might have been a few players the week before that could see that we were pressing and overthinking things, but after that bye week I think we've gotten everything straight," Braun said. "Those few days just refreshes everyone. We were able to refocus on the team's goals and individual goals and push through the last few weeks of the season."


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