“None of the sides put on a winning performance out there,” said Holgorsen. “It wasn't enough. We did too many things wrong to win the game on both sides. We gained a lot of yards, but we had too many mistakes. We lost the turnover battle, and we gave up an eight minute drive to end the game.”
Not included in that review, but just as much to blame, was the kicking game, which produced two shanked punts and two missed field goals, including the one that was blocked and returned 82 yards for a touchdown.
“The [Louisville] kid cornered, jumped, and played with tremendous effort,” Holgorsen said in explaining the key play. “Our operation time was probably a little slow, and our right wing probably could have gotten a little better punch, but give their kid credit for making the play.”
Holgorsen's comments about extra effort and making plays will hopefully resonate with his team, which showed about as much emotion as an 8:00 a.m. accounting class.
“I don't know how to fix it,” a clearly mystified Holgorsen said. “We talked about it all week. We had no energy. Our sidelines were dead, and we didn't even have any excitement when good things happened.
“I'm watching Cincinnati right now and the reason they are first in the league is they are playing with tremendous effort and confidence. There's not a whole lot of quit to them. They were down to Louisville by 10 and they came out with a tremendous amount of enthusiasm. We were tied at halftime and in the locker room it looks like we were losing.
“We will try hard to fix it. We'll talk about it. We'll get coaches and players and seniors working toward one goal.”
The punting battle, which Michael Molinari had appeared to lock up over the previous two weeks, opened again with the pair of short kicks against Louisville. It's an open competition this week again, with the winner getting the nod in Cincinnati on Saturday.
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Holgorsen often bemoans his team's lack of efficiency, and was asked to describe what factors he is looking at when defining that success. His answer included several factors that he has listed throughout his tenure.
“On defense, it's getting turnovers, getting off the field on third down, and not giving up touchdowns in the red zone – holding them to field goals. On offense, it's sort of the same things. No turnovers, no negative [yardage] plays, keeping manageable third down distances, and finishing drives.”
Holgorsen admitted that WVU's lack of efficiency can affect play calling at times, even subliminally.
“That does happen, although maybe it's subconsciously,” he said of adjusting the offense to mask problems. “Our 3rd down stuff was better this week based on how we approached second down. On second down we just tried to get half of it. We are not a team that can convert third down and long, because our pass protection is not very good.”
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Jared Barber's appearance at middle linebacker was sparked by both his play in practice the past few weeks and some dissatisfaction with others on the linebacking corps. Barber finished the game with two tackles, and figures to compete for more time this week.
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Wide receiver Brad Starks suffered a knee injury and will be out for multiple games. WVU did not comment officially on the injury, and Holgorsen did not comment on any possible timetable for a return. Starks had done well on kickoff returns the past three weeks and had contributed several catches in the passing game as well.