West Virginia football notebook: WVU still has long journey ahead

MORGANTOWN, WV - NOVEMBER 03:  Head coach Dana Holgorsen of the West Virginia Mountaineers reacts during the game against the TCU Horned Frogs on November 3, 2012 at Mountaineer Field in Morgantown, West Virginia.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
MORGANTOWN, WV - NOVEMBER 03: Head coach Dana Holgorsen of the West Virginia Mountaineers reacts during the game against the TCU Horned Frogs on November 3, 2012 at Mountaineer Field in Morgantown, West Virginia. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Photo by Getty Images
| Sunday, Nov. 11, 2012, 9:22 p.m.

STILLWATER, Okla. — A 5-0 start to the contrary — including a 2-0 start in the Big 12 — West Virginia has a long way to go before becoming a force in the conference.

In its first year in the Big 12, the Mountaineers (5-4, 2-4) have lost four consecutive conference games while making the transition from the Big East.

“To win on the road in this league is tough. To win at home in this league is tough. I think as a team we're finding that out,” said WVU coach Dana Holgorsen, whose team has been outscored, 152-93, in three road conference games.

“It's uncharted territory for a lot of people that are involved.”

Holgorsen said West Virginia's first year in the Big 12 has been spent acclimating his players to the difference in talent from when the Mountaineers won the Big East in their final year in the league.

“It's going to take some time for everybody to truly understand what this conference is all about. There's a lot of good quality teams,” Holgorsen said. “We consider ourselves to be a good quality team, but I think there's some things that we need to obviously get better at.

“It's not just one glaring position, one glaring side of the ball. It's all parties involved.''

Austin likes WVU

Asked about the talent disparity between the Big 12 and Big East, senior wide receiver Tavon Austin replied, “It's not that much higher. Every game we had a chance to win. Little things stopped us from winning. It's not like we're not putting up points.”

Lineup changes coming

Holgorsen promised to make lineup changes if players don't buy into his program.

“We're watching tape and dissecting it very carefully,” Holgorsen said. “See if guys are 100 percent bought in and see if guys want to get back to work next week. If they're improving, we'll play them. If they're not, we'll move on to somebody else.”

Crunch time blues

When WVU opened the season with five straight wins, players made plays in clutch situations. During the team's four game losing streak, some of those same players are breaking down in crunch time.

Offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson doesn't know how else to explain the Mountaineers' slump.

“It's attention to detail when times get tough — in my opinion,” Dawson said. “Got to be able to keep our head in a chaotic situation. Right now, we're not doing a very good job of that.”

John Harris is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at jharris@tribweb.com.

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