West Virginia football seniors vow to step it up
West Virginia has tried everything to halt the school's longest losing streak since 2001. It's times like these when senior leadership is essential.
“You start to lean on some of your seniors at this point to finish the year strong,” coach Dana Holgorsen said.
The Mountaineers started 11 seniors in a 55-34 loss at Oklahoma State.
“The coaches have done as much as they can do. Right now, we need some leaders to step up,” senior guard Jeff Braun said. “We need to stand up as seniors, come together as a senior class.
“Now it falls on our shoulders.”
At 5-4 overall and 2-4 in the Big 12, the Mountaineers are out of the running to win a conference title in their first year in the league. However, there is still plenty to play for, including becoming bowl eligible.
The Mountaineers must win at least two of their final three games to qualify for their 10th consecutive bowl appearance.
“I agree with Jeff 100 percent,” junior defensive end Will Clarke of Allderdice said. “It's time for us to look each other in the eye and see what we're made of.
“Everyone wants to go to a bowl game. We have three regular-season games left. Try to tack up those three wins and continue with a bowl game.”
Senior quarterback Geno Smith was disappointed with more than the outcome against Oklahoma State.
Smith said some of his teammates have performed recently like the games have meant more to them than it has for others on the roster.
“You had guys step up. You had guys who the game actually meant a lot to,” Smith said. “To be honest, the game is all I've got, which is why it hurt so much. I don't think it means that much to everyone as it (does) some of us.”
Added junior receiver Stedman Bailey: “In some cases, effort was questioned. We'll watch film and see guys slacking, including myself. That's things we can fix. Effort is something you can't coach.”
Smith: “I've been angry for two weeks. I've been angry every day in practice. I've been angry before I go into that building (football office), because I want to win.”
According to Braun, one of those senior leaders who has started 35 of 46 career games, “Everybody needs to be held accountable. You're going to make mistakes. You're going to have bad technique, and you're going to have a bad play.
“But you need to execute to 100 percent of your ability. If that fails, you need to be giving 100 percent effort.”
John Harris is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.