“We were outcoached and outplayed,” he reiterated after studying video of the 49-23 loss. “They played with more effort, more energy and more excitement than we did. Schematically on all three sides of the ball they had stuff that was good. That's not to say that we didn't. They just did a better job executing it. Their body language was a lot better than ours. You can see it during the play and after the play. If I knew the answers to why that happens, I would be writing books.”
“You tell the players exactly what happened, and that's what we did [today]. We showed them exactly what happened. It doesn't take kids long to figure that out. You see yourself on tape getting outplayed, it should motivate you. What we focused on today is why we didn't score 49 points, and we showed them all of the mistakes that prevented that.”
Although he was clearly unhappy with the loss, Holgorsen indicated that staying the course, not radical changes, are the keys to putting the loss away and improving.
“We do the same thing every week,” he said. “We've been doing the same thing for seven weeks. I've been doing this for 20 years, and Coach Casteel has been doing this for 20 years. We didn't forget how to coach. We will do everything we can to get our guys motivated to play.
“It's no fun,” Holgorsen said as he described his own feelings after a loss. “It's what we do. We only get 12 opportunities a year and you put so much into it, when it doesn't work out it's discouraging. Our job is to get it over with and move on. We'll be up all night working on Rutgers.”
Holgorsen indicated that WVU's problems with Syracuse's blitz weren't attributable to just one factor.
“Sixteen of their 24 first blitzes were different,” he said. “I give them a lot of credit for that. “We still hatted it up (had blocking assignment correct) for the most part, but they won a lot of those battles. The pocket got collapsed a lot. We have to do a better job of one on one pass protection. Some of the guys that were coming free, we have to do better from a quarterback-receiver standpoint and adjust routes quicker and get the ball out more quickly.”
* * *
Holgorsen indicated that Brad Starks played well on kickoff returns, but stopped short of saying the tandem of he and Devon Brown, who handled most of the duties during the evening, was a permanent switch.
“It all boils down to the same thing. The physical nature was the same as their offensive and defensive lines. Their kickoff team got down the field better and was more physical than our kickoff return team was.”
* * *
Holgorsen did get explanations for two plays that vexed West Virginia fans, although one appears to be more than a bit hazy. The first involved a number of extra Syracuse defenders on the field for a play late in the first half, while the second involved a personal foul on Bruce Irvin when it appeared that he had his glove stuck in the shoulder pads of a Syracuse opponent.
“I know there were 13-15 guys on the field, and I was trying to get it reviewed. They told me it couldn't be challenged,” Holgorsen said. “I guess you learn something new every day.”
However, Section 3, Article 5A of the NCAA Rule Book states:
Article 5. Situations that may be addressed by the replay official:
a. The number of players on the field for either team during a live ball.
Regarding Irvin's situation, Holgorsen said he was told that Irvin did something prior to the stuck glove incident that precipitated the call. If that's the case, the flag for that infraction was late even by Big East standards.
* * *
Julian Miller and Ivan McCartney both went down during the game but returned to action. McCartney suffered what appeared to be a painful knee injury, but he made it back onto the fie;d for the next series. Miller's helmet was ripped off and it hit him in the head, but he was also able to return.
Ryan Clarke wasn't so lucky. He played just two snaps before getting a stinger. He watched the rest of the game with an ice bag on his neck. He will be evaluated on Tuesday.