West Virginia football notebook: Players have letdown vs. Texas Tech
LUBBOCK, Texas — Even before West Virginia took the field against Texas Tech, something didn't feel right.
Emotion, for one. The Mountaineers didn't play with their normal intensity in Saturday's 49-14 blowout loss.
“We needed to bring our own energy, and we didn't from start to finish,” said freshman Isaiah Bruce, who suffered a hip injury in the game. “That's just something we have to improve on is keeping our energy, especially when we're on the road.”
West Virginia was playing its second consecutive road game. A week after defeating Texas in Austin, the Mountaineers fell flat in Lubbock.
They paid the price in the Associated Press Top 25 poll, dropping 12 spots to No. 17 this week. The Mountaineers opened at No. 13 in the first BCS rankings.
“Any time you play — and we only have (13) opportunities to play — and leave the game and say they played harder than us is something that's very disturbing to me,” Mountaineers coach Dana Holgorsen said.
“They were flat going in, which was amazing,” West Virginia defensive coordinator Joe DeForest said.
To a man, the players said practices leading to the game were among their best of the season.
What the coaching staff was unable to do was psyche up the players.
“When it goes bad, you can't have a bad demeanor,” offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson said. “In the first half we were getting down. I felt our energy was a little better in the second half, but we never got over the hump.”
The Mountaineers said they will apply lessons learned from the loss to future games. But they weren't quite ready to let go of the one that got away.
“Coach Holgorsen told us things happen,” receiver J.D. Woods said. “His main point to us was to overcome adversity and create our own energy. Just keep our heads up. We overcame a lot last year. It's a long season.”
Injuries are beginning to add up for the Mountaineers.
Senior running back Shawne Alston and junior defensive tackle Will Clarke didn't play, while junior receiver Stedman Bailey, senior guard Jeff Braun and Bruce suffered injuries during the game. Their status for Saturday's game against Kansas State is unknown.
“I'm never going to use that as an excuse,” Holgorsen said. “It's the nature of college football. Guys go down. People have to step up.”
Two freshmen made their first career starts.
Eric Kinsey started for Clarke at defensive tackle and did not record a tackle. Dante Campbell started at inside receiver. He had one reception for 9 yards.
“Everybody plays true freshmen. I think we're up to about 13,” Holgorsen said.
Other freshmen making contributions against Texas Tech included receiver Jordan Thompson, who finished with a career-best 27 yards receiving and had a career-high 15-yard reception.
On defense, safety Karil Joseph recorded his first career interception in the first quarter and added a team-high nine tackles and one pass breakup.
John Harris is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.