I'm going to dispense with the pleasantries and just get right to it. If you're reading this, you know what happened. The West Virginia Mountaineers visited a moribund football program that hadn't won a conference game in over 3 years and had was unable to secure a win. On a field surrounded by a running track the Mountaineer season ended for all intents and purposes. No bowl for the first time since 2001 and an offseason of questions about the state of the program. But before we look forward to the future let's look back at one of the most inexplicably frustrating days in recent WVU memory.
Tailgating with some WVU fans before kickoff pic.twitter.com/bzpZQJhBbs— Jon Kimble, Mtnr (@WVUMascot) November 16, 2013
"You're looking LIVE at Lawrence, Kansas!!!"
I'll say this, Kansas had a helluva strategy. Create the most dull atmosphere imaginable and lull an opponent to sleep. I'm surprised the band didn't just play Mazzy Star songs all game. What an awful, awful environment for a football game.
(And my snark aside, I 100% believe that setting was a major component in WVU not showing up to play. This is a team that has struggled to self-motivate for a couple years now and that was on display Saturday.)
Hey, speaking of tombs.....
If it doesn't turn out that this whole thing was orchestrated by the caretaker's son dressed up as a mummy, I'll be very disappointed. And I bet he would have gotten away with it if it weren't for those meddling kids!
(sorry - we needed a laugh before we got going. Back to the morgue.)
Clint Trickett made the trip to Lawrence. Will not dress for WVU.— WVU IMG Sports (@WVUIMGSports) November 16, 2013
I'm very glad Clint Trickett is OK. Concussions are scary and there's no rhyme or reason to how they effect different people and it's great that Clint was well enough to get on a plane and travel halfway across the country. 100% agree with the decision to hold him out for the game. That's something that might not have happened even 5 years ago and it's important that young men are protected from themselves more than they have been in the past. I'd guess if left to his own devices, the same guy who refused to take an injury timeout for a separated shoulder against Oklahoma State would have wanted to come back against Kansas. I'm glad he didn't. Life is long and you only have one brain (or in the case of Mark May, maybe even less than that). Take care of it.
This team really missed K.J. Aside from his skill, he brings the type of intensity that was sorely missing from the defense.
And while we're handing out well-wishes, glad K.J. is doing better as well. From what I've heard his situation was very serious after the Texas game (he actually spent time in the I.C.U.) and there were some scary moments. He seems like a great kid and I'm glad he's come out on the other end. Hope he can get some rest and get right.
My guy @reddubvu12 made a great call on Memorial Stadium. This is Pitt Stadium without the wooden press box and the dirt floors ...— John Antonik (@JohnAntonik) November 16, 2013
Sounds like a real gem. It's just too bad we can only play there once every other year.
Once again, WVU's game captains are the holder, snapper, punter and kicker.— Mike Casazza (@mikecasazza) November 16, 2013
Well that worked out really well last week. Hey, I'm feeling pretty good about this game!
Plenty of seats available. pic.twitter.com/JXxWND3WgH— Allan Taylor (@AllanTaylorWVU) November 16, 2013
If you embarrass your program nationally and nobody is around to see it, did you really embarrass your program nationally?
I'm with @HoppyKercheval - Pass up any bowl bids and sell out a stadium for a Backyard Brawl on Dec. 27th. Sweet!— Ben Tuel (@BN2L) November 16, 2013
I'm all in on this, but only if you pick the most absurd, obscure charity and donate the proceeds. Like "Victims of Raccoon Attacks United" or something. Can we do this? We can do this, right?
Flag on the play.... Nevermind, it's just an Oak leaf. #WVUvsKAN— Randy Gyorko (@gyorkocfn) November 16, 2013
We lost to a team with a field surrounded by a running track who couldn't even be troubled to keep leaves away from their field. Seriously, have you ever seen leaves blowing across the field of a game on national TV? Ever? It's great to know a pair of multimillion dollar athletic departments were playing under conditions you could find at your local middle school.
Paul Millard has taken his share of criticism, but his November beard game is strong.— Ben Kercheval (@BenKercheval) November 16, 2013
And his arm is not.
— Keenan Cummings (@rivalskeenan) November 16, 2013
Mario Alford doing the Mario Alford things that I've wanted all season.— Matt Kirchner (@MKirchner12) November 16, 2013
My favorite theme from the Texas game was the emergence of Mario Alford. One of the more inexplicable themes fo the Kansas game was the lack of Mario Alford. How do you not even attempt to get him the ball on an end around or take more shots with the quick slant that went the distance a week ago. There wasn't much about the playcalling that made sense to me.....
Not sure why Millard was throwing off his back foot and falling away there. No pressure. Cost #WVU a big play.— Chris Anderson (@CMAnderson247) November 16, 2013
Well I'm not sure why he was doing most of what he did. Millard was as awful in Lawrence as he was masterful in Morgantown. The quick decisions and short throws that minimized his limitations were nowhere to be found when he was doing his best Evil Clint Trickett impersonation by heaving the ball as far as he could and calling it offense. He held the ball too long, never set his feet and in general looked nothing like the poised upperclassman we saw 7 days before. I was mystified.
WVU had a nice pass game going in first quarter. Changed approach after changing fields/wind w/ quarter change. Short & simple was working.— Mike Casazza (@mikecasazza) November 16, 2013
I will never understand the mindset here. You're doing simple things, everything is working and you're marching down the field. Then you out-think yourself and make it harder than it has to be. I don't get what they were thinking.
Huge run from James Sims. KU is inside the 15 with a chance to take the lead. It must be said: Is today the day?— David Ubben (@davidubben) November 16, 2013
Overhead in the Titanic's crow's nest: "Hey there sure are a lot of icebergs out here. Man, you don't think we could ever hit one of those, do you?"
(realizes confetti is actually grbage)
(realizes party is actually a funeral)
The fact that Charles Sims has only seven carries and Paul Millard has thrown 15 passes at this point makes zero damn sense.— Patrick Southern (@patricksouthern) November 16, 2013
Patrick is snarky and Patrick complains a lot and Patrick seldom has anything positive to say but Patrick is 100% right about this.
(To be clear, I like Patrick. I just pick on him because he can take it. Go Cats.)
Another big penalty! Holding eliminates a near 60 yard kick return for WVU. Mountaineers start the drive at their own 10.— WVU IMG Sports (@WVUIMGSports) November 16, 2013
For the record this is when I started to actually worry, because this is the type of "hey the computer just isn't going to let you win this Tecmo Bowl game today" shit that happens when you lose to a team that hasn't beaten a conference opponent since before realignment.
West Virginia is running out of players ... Feigt walks off the field ... slowly ...— John Antonik (@JohnAntonik) November 16, 2013
Here is WVU's season reduced down to a 14 second video clip:
If this team isn't motivated, who does that fall on?— JL McGhee (@TheDeuceWVU) November 16, 2013
Very fair question. Is it easy to pick a banged up team off the floor following a gut-wrenching loss like they suffered last week? No. But if it were easy, they probably wouldn't pay him $2.3 million a year to do it.
This Defense needs to step up and change the momentum.— Wolfman (@Wolfley64) November 16, 2013
I kept waiting for a game-changing play. Something. Anything. Clearly the offense wasn't going to do it after they squandered not one but two possessions that started on their opponent's side of the field. I was hoping for an Ishmael Banks type play that we saw in the upset of Oklahoma. This defense had forced at least two turnovers I think every game this season, I thought surely they'd make a play. I'm still waiting.
this is unpleasant— Holly Anderson (@HollyAnderson) November 16, 2013
Oh, you haven't even SEEN unpleasant yet.
Kansas! James Sims goes 68 yards for the score. Jayhawks have their third double-digit lead in Big 12 play this season. Lessons learned?— David Ubben (@davidubben) November 16, 2013
THAT was unpleasant.
Sure this entire TD was the product of lazy tackling (namely normally reliable Will Clarke who had Sims dead to rights in the backfield) and crappy angles, but it really had it's roots about 5 minutes earlier. Facing a 4th and inches from his own 38, Dana Holgorsen decided to punt. With a running back in Charles Sims who was at the time leading the Big 12 in all purpose yardage, he decided to punt. Facing the 92nd best rush defense in the nation, he decided to punt.
This is when things shifted and Kansas began to believe, and it was because WVU gave them an opening.
Like most of what we saw on Saturday, it defied explanation. The same Dana Holgorsen who famously was 5 for 5 on 4th downs last year in Austin, the same Dana Holgorsen who time and time again challenged his team to get that extra yard in short yardage situations, the same Dana Holgorsen who SAID PISS ON THE FIELD GOAL IN 4TH AND 10 AGAINST TEXAS TECH has now been reduced to being afraid of 4th and inches in Lawrence, Kansas.
I have no idea what I'm watching. I'm not saying that to be cute, I genuinely have no idea. Is it a riverboat gambler? Is it a conservative field-position monger? I have no idea.
Welp. Run the Wildcat?— Caleb Wygal (@calebwygal) November 16, 2013
This would have made as much sense as anything else they tried. More than most.
Why do our own writers disparage us so much?— Country Roads (@CountryRoadsWV) November 16, 2013
They really are a grumpy bunch. And worst of all they bring NO insight into things. I think a lot of Mike Casazza, I do. He's smart, he gives good insight and he's fair. But there's a reason you don't see much from the rest of them in these things.
Good news: Kansas has been in games at the half this season. They've imploded in the 2nd half. Here's hoping...— Sam Crowe (@ClarenceOveur1) November 16, 2013
I know we lost a recruiting class etc... yes I know we have all these other excuses... this is Kansas— Bearded One (@THEChrisKessell) November 16, 2013
I completely get all the reasons this team has struggled for the last two years. I subscribe to many of them. They are valid and they exist. But you've got to be able to beat Kansas with a bowl on the line. Have to.
So is she light on her feet? Can she move laterally? Think she could fill in at right tackle?
Plenty talent at WVU. God dnt like ugly.— 12 (@RonaldCarswell) November 16, 2013
I have no idea what this meant. Felt like a swipe at the coaching staff but it's probably not fair to Ronald to assume that, so I'll exercise some restraint and simply remind Mr. Carswell that he's got a few more characters to work with if he'd care to make a salient point.
Paul Millard throws INT at point-blank range. Returned by Kansas to the WV 15.— WVU IMG Sports (@WVUIMGSports) November 16, 2013
I had some clever things to say about throwing velocity here but that's not fair. Paul was the best option we had at QB. Not his fault he was put in positions to fail all afternoon.
Dudes playing with NO heart out there Idc how many starters are out— Douglas Rigg (@bigrigg47) November 16, 2013
This killed me because you know Doug would give anything to be out there. But he took an unlucky shot to the head and probably won't be playing football again because of a quirk of fate and physics and a few seconds. This team has been bad at times, but they have also been royally unlucky.
It'd be a shame if WVU fired Holgorsen, and not just because a major program desperately needs an offensive coordinator.— Spencer Hall (@edsbs) November 16, 2013
Oh you just shut the hell up.
100% true story: I just changed the channel from Trading Places back to the WVU/Kansas game as was booed by everyone in the living room w/me— Fake Bob Huggins (@FakeBobHuggins) November 16, 2013
An understandable sentiment. Not gonna lie, I was in the house alone and HBO's "Sinful Passions" On-Demand was looking pretty good.
(I totally made that movie name up but you 100% thought it was real, didn't you. You're laughing!!! I made you laugh! See, just because our football program has bottomed out, doesn't mean we can't have fun.)
Fire everyone. Out of a cannon. Into space.— Matt Kirchner (@MKirchner12) November 16, 2013
It was one of those days.
#WVU, down 24-7, will start at midfield after another bad punt from Kansas.— Chris Anderson (@CMAnderson247) November 16, 2013
When Kansas is falling all over themselves to let you back in a game and you can't seem to do it....that's a bad place to be in, folks.
Oh my, the full-out meltdown is on at WVU. It hasn’t been this bad since that UConn game in Stew’s last year.— Tony Dobies (@DOBIEST) November 16, 2013
This was worse than that. At least then you were in the middle of the season and could talk yourself into a rally. This was so final. I have to keep reminding myself that there's another game. Speaking of that....
The tailgating scene is getting less and less impressive for @WideRtNattyLt as this game goes along— SmithFire13 (@SmithFire13) November 16, 2013
This was the saddest part for me. WVU fans and Iowa St. fans are so much alike and one day both teams will be slightly better than competent and we'll get a pair of 8-3 teams putting on a fantastic encore for some epic tailgating. The Riot Bowl deserves as much.
When the tide is pushing you back who will stand up against it? Battle til the end! Never, never give up! #Pride— Wolfman (@Wolfley64) November 16, 2013
I'm going to start printing Wolfman's tweets out and making a daily calender or something. I love that dude.
Bring a new, upwrapped toy to Sunday's WVU-Duquesne game for a ticket to an upcoming game. pic.twitter.com/uGQfWynvFr— WVU Men's Basketball (@WVUhoops) November 16, 2013
Dana Holgorsen will be bringing Charles Sims and Mario Alford.
#WVU goes three and out and after three straight deep chucks from Paul Millard to covered receivers.— Chris Anderson (@CMAnderson247) November 16, 2013
I want to be a Dana guy. I do. But he's gotta give me some help. That was the worst conceived possession of the season— Brandon Priddy (@abpriddy) November 16, 2013
I was incensed. I can't remember a more blatant panic series in recent history and this staff is too damn smart for that. I will never understand what can allow you to rationalize that Paul Millard chucking it into the Kansas winds is better strategy than running Charles Sims or Dreamius Smith. Or really anything else.
Gotta make that catch. Man...— JL McGhee (@TheDeuceWVU) November 16, 2013
I like Kevin White a lot, I really do. He comes across as a really good kid and he's a physical specimen. But at some point he's got to start hauling in jump balls or all that size is for naught. It feels like at least once or twice every game he's got a game-shifting reception that he gets two hands on and he looks like he comes down with it and you're happy......and then the ball comes rolling out of the turf. I don't know how you work on something like that, but he's got to figure it out. So much untapped potential there....
So, it could be worse for Pitt RT @DanWolken: What an embarrassing way for WVU to eliminate themselves from bowl contention. Kansas? Really?— Chas Rich (@ChasRich27) November 16, 2013
No, dammit WE'RE the ones who take solace in YOU sucking! Not the other way around! That's not how this works!
Sounds about right. Or 'One' where a man without arms, legs, speech, sight or hearing would pretty accurately sum up this offense.
Kansas has more than 20 points against an FBS team for the 1st time in 364 days. The Jayhawks lead West Virginia 24-7 at the end of the 3rd.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) November 16, 2013
pours a stiff drink....
Weiss obviously has a schematic advantage today— Bearded One (@THEChrisKessell) November 16, 2013
aaaaaaand better make it a double.....
James Sims over 200 yards for the day. Just the second time that has happened against #WVU since 2001.— Michael Carvelli (@Carvelli3) November 16, 2013
actually why don't you just leave the bottle.
Nothing worse than trying to get drunk and it not working at all. #needmoonshine— Smoking Musket (@SmokingMusket) November 17, 2013
Oh hell I give up. Let's get to our parting shots.
"Sixty-one passing yards, 5-for-12, 33 percent on third down? We did everything right but give up those 300 rushing yards." -- Shaq Rowell.— Mike Casazza (@mikecasazza) November 16, 2013
Wow. If that's not your "but other than that, Mrs. Lincoln how was the play?" quote of the year I don't know what is. I'm guessing (hoping, praying) that Shaq was being ironic.
Losing to Kansas is a fireable offense.— The Sports Dude™ (@ImTheSportsDude) November 16, 2013
Maybe it is, maybe it isn't. So let's go ahead and talk about this now. I'll give my brief thoughts as I'm putting together a longer post on the subject.
First, I don't think you fire a coach for a singularly bad performance. I think you assess the overall program, step back and make a decision. Having said that the state of this program is very, very difficult to judge. I don't see how you can condemn this staff for some of the bad things that happened without giving credit for the historic good things. Also, there are injuries, conference changes and a whole host of variables that give either side plenty of ammunition.
I'll just say this: this staff was always going to be judged based on next year. We've known this was a rebuilding effort since the opening kick on August 30th. Do I think they made their climb to success next year more difficult? Certainly. Do I think they can still get it done? Yes. Yes I do. But again, more on this coming soon.....
Ahem. Auburn was 3-9 last year and look at them now. It's called patience in this instant gratification world.— Jaci Slone (@JaciSloneWVU) November 17, 2013
(yeah, but they fired their coach to do it.)
Listen, I want to think Jaci is right. She is right. People want to see results now and there's not a lot of patience for building a base. But again, a loss like that makes the job that much more difficult. There was no reason for them to lose that game.
I failed to mention Art Briles, Baylor Head Coach. 41-30 over all, 23-25 in Big 12 in 6 yrs. First 3 yrs. he was 7-17 in Big 12.— Wolfman (@Wolfley64) November 17, 2013
And that's a guy who probably entered a program needing a rebuild very similar to what we're seeing in Morgantown.
Among scholarship players, WVU redshirting 10 freshmen, one junior college transfer, two injured defenders, one Andrew Buie for full season.— Mike Casazza (@mikecasazza) November 18, 2013
That's 16 bodies WVU was without for most of this season. True, most freshmen aren't ready, but 16 is a big number for the purpose of depth.— Mike Casazza (@mikecasazza) November 18, 2013
Add juco LB and WR from '13 class, 10 players from '12 class not with team. That's 26 of max 85 scholarship players unavailable this season.— Mike Casazza (@mikecasazza) November 18, 2013
Those are big numbers and those are meaningful numbers. I don't like when Holgorsen says things like "we're not equipped like a Big 12 program" but he's saying those things looking at numbers like that. Again, there are a lot of circumstances at work here and anyone who thinks it's cut and dry is oversimplifying a very complex situation.
That's all we've got from the Retweet for this week. Stick around the Musket as we're going to keep delving deep and trying to figure where we stand. We had a great discussion in the comments thread of the game recap and I'd encourage folks to stop by and chat.
Enjoy the off week and pick yourself back up for the Riot Bowl against Iowa State.