After a game in which the Mountaineers played just about everyone they had to offer on defense -- 26 players in all, 10 of which were either true or redshirt freshmen -- Holgorsen indicated much of the work moving forward will be focused on preparing those younger players to be better ready to contribute.
“Young kids don’t know how to be mentally tough. It takes being in those situations to truly understand it,” said WVU’s second-year head coach. “It’s hard to compare ourselves with Kansas State because they’re a mature team and we’re not right now. From a program standpoint, that’s kind of the model from a teamwork standpoint, and we’ll strive hard to get ourselves in that position.”
That starts this week, as WVU has no opponent to worry about game-planning for until a Nov. 3 game against TCU.
Holgorsen indicated the team will do a bit more “live action” in practice this week -- but that much of it will be focused on those younger players who will contribute in the weeks (and years) to come.
“A lot of the things we need to do -- especially with as many young guys as we’ve got playing -- is get those guys to focus on their technique a little bit,” he said. “There are some things we can improve technique-wise, and every day gives us an opportunity to do that. And we’ll put the ball down and play a lot with the younger kids, because player development from a young guys standpoint is going to be critical moving forward.”
After consecutive blowout losses to Texas Tech and Kansas State, the Mountaineers have lost some of their confidence, according to their head coach. But he said the only way for that to change is through hard work in practice and success in games -- that no motivational speeches or any other factors can cure what currently ails WVU.
“The mental aspect of reaching your team, that’s something that’s always a challenge. But we’ve got to get their confidence back,” Holgorsen said. “The only way you do that is by bringing them in, talking to them, getting out there in practice and specific things, then preparing as well as you can to get out there and be successful.
“You’ve got to take them one at a time. We play in a good league. I think everybody understands that. We got off to kind of a hot start, but we had some issues that a pretty good Texas Tech team and a real good Kansas State team exposed a little bit. Those guys are two quality football programs that ended up beating us. We’ve got to get back to work. There’s no secret, no magical words that can get those guys back on track. We’ll get out there and work hard at it.”
Already, West Virginia assistant coaches were out on the road to recruit -- even if only in areas reasonably close to Morgantown -- by Monday morning. Holgorsen indicated those coaches would be back by Tuesday for practice sessions on that day, as well as Wednesday and Thursday, before fanning out across the country on Friday and Saturday.
The head coach said seven assistants will be on the road this weekend “trying to find guys who can come in and help us right away.”
RB Shawne Alston tweeted Monday morning that he will play in WVU’s Nov. 3 game against TCU. Alston has missed the team’s last five games due to a thigh bruise sustained in the Mountaineers’ win over James Madison.
For his part, Holgorsen said that determination has not yet been made and that Alston will have to prove he is ready to return to action by performing in practice.
“That’s no different than anybody else on the team,” Holgorsen emphasized. “But he makes us better. He does a good job, brings maturity, brings toughness, brings a physical style of play we’re lacking a little bit in the run game. So yeah, he would be good to get back out there. But we’ve got to make sure he’s able to practice a little bit prior to that.”
Kickoff time for West Virginia’s Nov. 3 game against TCU will not be announced until next week, as ABC and Fox exercised their limited rights to a 6-day decision window for that contest -- as well as three other Big 12 games.
The game will either be at 3:00 p.m. on Fox, or at noon, 3:30 p.m. or 8:00 p.m. on ABC.