West Virginia notebook: WVU, Okla. St. similar in all phases
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — It's no secret that West Virginia and Oklahoma State are similar teams. Head coach Dana Holgorsen, who was the Oklahoma State offensive coordinator in 2010, said it's like looking in a mirror on offense, defense and special teams. So when two teams know each other that well, what's the difference in the game? “It comes down to the effort being there,” Holgorsen said. “They play with tremendous effort, so we have to play with tremendous effort.”
• That also means play-calling signals are similar, too. Holgorsen said his team changes its signals every week, but it will be even more important this week. “I've watched a couple of their (Oklahoma State's) TV copies here, and I can call out about 90 percent of their plays,” he said, “I'd assume that's something that is on their mind, as well as it is on our mind. We have to be careful what we do from both an offensive standpoint and a defensive standpoint.”
• Holgorsen said the defense showed improvement in Saturday's loss to TCU. A possible reason was defensive coordinator Joe DeForest moved from the field to the press box to call the game. “I thought it would help Joe to be in a sterile environment,” Holgorsen said. “There are a lot of bullets flying on the sidelines and there is a lot of stuff going on. It is not uncommon for an offensive or defensive coordinator to call it from the box. It's because it is quiet and he can see better.”
• This week's road game could be good for West Virginia. Road teams in the Big 12 have won 16 of 27 (.593) conference games this season, a record pace. “It's crazy,” Holgorsen said. Over the first 16 years of the Big 12, home teams have a .594 winning percentage. West Virginia team is 1-1 on the road this season but 1-2 at home.
• Running back Shawne Alston (thigh) played for the first time in four games Saturday, finishing with seven carries for 16 yards and a touchdown. Though Holgorsen appreciated Alston's effort, it was clear the senior wasn't healthy enough to contribute. “Presence was good. Mentality was good. Health was not good,” Holgorsen said. “He's a different guy now than he was the first couple of games.”