WVU looking to find consistency, fix mistakes

West Virginia does not have a game this week, getting its first bye week of the season after a 2-2 start.

And up to this point in the year, it's easy to see that this is a much-improved Mountaineer team - especially on the offensive side of the ball.

West Virginia is back in the top five nationally in passing offense and is No. 10 in total offense. But make no mistake about it, there is plenty of room for WVU to grow once it returns to the field in a week to host Kansas.

Head coach Dana Holgorsen said this week that, with the exceptions of quarterback Clint Trickett and wide receiver Kevin White, there have not been a lot of skill players on the offense who have been able to string together strong performances on a consistent basis. With just a third of the season out of the way, the two seniors have already surpassed most of what they did all of last season. After throwing for 1,605 yards with seven touchdowns and seven interceptions last season, Trickett has already thrown for 1,600 yards with nine touchdowns to just three picks in WVU's first four games. Meanwhile, White already has more receptions and yards than he did in 2013, leading the nation with 57 targets while catching 42 passes for 633 yards and three scores.

But as the Mountaineers try to find a way to gain the same consistency they have gotten from Trickett and White, the equation is not that hard to figure out.

"Get out there and practice. Keep working hard," Holgorsen said. "It doesn't happen overnight. It's been a long process with Kevin. He's been here a year and a half. It's been a lot of meeting time and practice time to be able to get him where he's at.

"I don't know when the light is going to go on for some of these guys. Sometimes it never does ... You have to show up every day in the right frame of mind. You have to practice hard and expect good things to happen."

As West Virginia gets into its bye week that players and coaches agreed should be good for a team that had some difficult games to get through and will allow the team to find a way to get healed up and ready to enter the meat of the Big 12 Conference schedule. But there's one thing that has been made apparent: Just because there is no opponent waiting at the end of the week, this is not a week for West Virginia to do nothing.

"Everything we do is critical, you can't ever relax on anything. We made it loud and clear with the guys that this is not an off week," Holgorsen said. "We have to get back to work. You never have things figured out. You can never relax. If you do that, you're not going to improve. This is a big week, and we need to get ourselves in a great place starting Sunday heading into next week, which is a big game.

A big focus this week, and something that has been preached by the coaching staff since WVU struggled to win close games a year ago, has been finishing games and capitalizing on the mistakes of its opponents. Costly mistakes, including turnovers and red zone inefficiency, proved to be the difference in both of the Mountaineers' losses this season and kept WVU from running away with a big win against Maryland a few weeks ago.

So, even with the improvements the offense has made overall so far this season, they know they are just a few plays - whether it be a fumble in the red zone, a costly interception, a handful of other miscues - away from being in a much better place than they are in already.

"You never accept a loss," Trickett said after losing to Oklahoma. "You can say it was against two top-five teams, but it still doesn't matter. We're a pretty damn good team, too. We've just got to be able to finish."


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