Playing For Each Other

The comment from West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen was telling. Echoed as it was by other players and coaches, it explains a good bit about West Virginia's four-game losing streak.

In his post game comments following the 55-34 loss to Oklahoma State, Dana Holgorsen noted that the team-wide level of commitment at WVU is not where it needs to be.

"I didn't think our effort was where it needed to be," Holgorsen said of West Virginia's play during the four-game losing streak. "I didn't think we were playing with 11 people that it meant a lot to."

If that wasn't pointed enough, Holgorsen went on to compare the buy-in of his team to that of Oklahoma State.

"That team we played plays with a tremendous amount of effort. They have a tremendous amount of pride and play hard for each other. They play hard for their school and they play hard for their teammates. They have been doing that at a very high rate for the last three or four years. That's what we have to get to."

Holgorsen indicated that changes have already been made, and that more will be forthcoming.

"It was good to see Cody Clay get in there and play a bunch and Ryan Nehlen make some plays because it means a lot to them. [And to see] Connor Arlia get in there, because it means a lot to him. When we get about 70 guys that it means that much to, we'll line up and play better."

It can't be much plainer than that. This West Virginia team doesn't have the full commitment of everyone that's needed to be successful in a league like the Big 12. Talent alone isn't enough, and overall West Virginia isn't as talented as many other teams in the league. Throw in commitment issues, and the Mountaineers are facing an uphill battle every week.

"We'll watch tape and dissect it very carefully and see if guys are 100% bought in and see if they want to get back to work," Holgorsen said of possible fixes. "We'll work and fight with whoever's with us."

WVU offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson had a similar outlook.

"You'd like to play with guys that want to play for their teammates and not just for themselves," he said when asked if he sees the same problems. "We have to get to that point where we have guys that love to play football. It has to be a team deal. Until we get 11 guys on both sides of the ball playing for each other, we are not going to be successful."

Asked directly if WVU has that at this point, Dawson was blunt: "To be honest with you, no."

Players weren't quite as direct, but it was clear from the manner of answer that they see some of the same issues too. They aren't going to call out teammates by name, but the uniformity of some of their responses speaks volumes: there's more to this losing streak than just physical mistakes on the field.

Offensive lineman Jeff Braun thinks the effort is there, but that more has to be done.

"I think guys are playing hard, but it's not enough. We need some leaders to step up and we have to fix everything. We have to do everything right, not just on the field but off the field."

Another veteran,Terence Garvin, is mystified as to what's occurring.

"We have to try and figure it out," he said, with pain and confusion chasing each other across his normally happy face. "I have never been a part of anything like this. We have to try to figure it out before it's too late. We're just trying to figure out what is wrong, because what we're doing now isn't working.

"You never want to quit playing," he continued, when asked if the team has anything to keep playing for. "We are still playing for pride and playing for each other. That's what it is about -- playing for each other. That's all we have right now. We have to try to come together these last couple of weeks. You don't want to go out on a losing streak like this."

"I'm not sure," Garvin concluded in response to the question of total team commitment. "It could be. It might not be. We do love each other and want to play for each other."

If veterans can't figure out the issues, there's at least one younger player who promises to do everything he can to right the ship.

"I think it could be one of the problems," Isaiah Bruce said of Holgorsen's observations. "Whatever it is, something has to change. Everyone has to play for each other, everybody has to play as a unit and we have to play for fun. We're not having fun any more. It's not how it used to be. I'm going to do my best to make a change going into next week. I'm going to do something to help this team get better."

Mountaineers Daily Top Stories