In the past five years West Virginia hasn't always been able to bounce back and play its best football after suffering a tough defeat. Most notably the 2012 and 2014 seasons come to mind. in 2012 the Mountaineers started out 5-0 before suffering their first loss in a 49-14 blowout to Texas Tech. That loss was the first of five straight for the Mountaineers and they would finish the season a rather pedestrian 7-5. In 2014 West Virginia started out 6-2 before losing a huge conference showdown with TCU. A week after the tough loss to the Horned Frogs the Mountaineers played their most uninspired game of the season and fell to Texas by a score of 33-16 in Austin and would finish the year 7-5. But this year's team seems different and more complete than those of years past and Dana Holgorsen feels his ball club will immediately bounce back from last Saturday's 17 point loss to Oklahoma State.
"They have been good," Holgorsen said. "The thing that I don't have to worry about is that these guys like to play ball and they prepare to get themselves in position to play. It was a normal day yesterday and everything seemed to be OK. They went out and practiced hard and I think they're anxious to get back to work and try to get another win this week."
Part of the reason that the Mountaineers' should be able to maintain their focus is that they are very much still in the hunt for the Big 12 championship. In fact, there have been very few teams to win the Big 12 to finish 8-0 (before the conference played a round robin slate) or 9-0. That's a point that Holgorsen brought up with his team immediately after they fell to the Cowboys.
"That was mentioned after the game," Holgorsen said in reference to Big 12 champions rarely running the table in conference play. "If you lose one you're sill in good shape. Even if you lose two you have a chance. It's just the way the Big 12 is and in a round robin situation everybody gets a crack at everybody else and there aren't any scheduling advantages. You have to take that into consideration but the biggest thing is that all nine games are going to be tough and that's just the way it's going to be. You have to do your best each week and if you don't then you're going to put yourself in a position not to be successful. You have to worry about the next one and do your best."
The next one is against Kansas, who has been the conference doormat for the past several years. The Mountaineers open as a 34.5 point favorite against the Jayhawks in what will be the first night game of the season for West Virginia. That fact alone should help the Mountaineers generate enough energy to play inspired football after coming off their first defeat. But even though WVU is a five score favorite Holgorsen knows the team can't take anyone for granted and despite holding a 1-7 record, Holgorsen said this Kansas team is a improved one from the team that WVU beat 49-0 in Lawrence last year.
"(Kansas) has gotten better," stated Holgorsen. "You can tell that on all three sides of the ball they have gotten better. They have had a lot of energy early and they have had chances to win. One thing that we learned last week and the biggest point I made last week was that we have to play our best every week. In the Big 12 you have nine opportunities and you have to play your best every week or you will get beat. It's no different this weekend. We have to improve, prepare and we have to play well on Saturday if we want to win."null