The Mountaineers did it. They traveled back to Austin, took on the Longhorns and quite literally took down the Longhorns in a 24-20 road victory. Now, it is time to focus on the next challenge at hand: taking on Oklahoma this Saturday under the lights at Milan Puskar. In Tuesday’s weekly press conference, Coach Holgorsen made it aware that they have a job to do, and that job is to overcome the Sooners.
Holgorsen has never let the outside factors get to him when preparing his team for that week’s challenge and this game is no different; “. . . what our team focuses on is the next game, that’s what this group has done, lets prepare hard to put ourselves in position, but I know the atmosphere is going to be great. I’m happy for Mountaineer Nation to be able to have this and look forward to on Saturday night. We’ll get ready to play and put a good product out there that they can be proud of.”
The Sooners team really may be the toughest challenge to date, even though this is something we hear from the head coach quite literally on a weekly basis. Tuesday, Coach Holgorsen pointed out just how good their offense is, highlighting both Baker Mayfield and Dede Westbrook as being a force to be reckoned with for the Mountaineers.
“They have an outstanding quarterback. (Redshirt junior quarterback) (Baker) Mayfield just continues to get better, plays with grit, makes plays, takes care of the football, scrambles around, does a great job in the run game, is accurate with his passes. What he’s doing with the (redshirt senior wide receiver) (Dede) Westbrook dude is impressive. I haven’t seen a combo put up these kind of numbers in a long time here recently. Didn’t have the start that they wanted but over the last six games what they’ve done is really impressive, so that will be a challenge”
The Oklahoma offense will be a feat for Coach Gibson’s Dawgs and they will need to help control the game from the defensive end Saturday. “Oklahoma is giving up some yards, but they’re a good defense . . . With that said, they have guys who can fly around and make plays, same secondary went against last year, same scheme. You know Bob (Stoops) and (Associate Head Coach/ Defensive Coordinator/ Outside Linebackers) Mike (Stoops) have been doing it for a long time. Arguably the two best defensive minds in football, so those guys are playing well and know us extremely well.”
Coach Holgorsen was asked about his team’s injuries, specifically those of Justin Crawford and Rushel Shell III. “Guys want to play they have to practice, so we’ll see if they do that. . . It’s the same thing, they have a lower extremity injury down below the waist. They’ve been dealing with the same thing.” Both Crawford and Shell have similar injuries that Mountaineer nation hopes are improved enough to add to the team’s offense Saturday night.
Holgorsen always speaks on the importance of ignoring the rankings, blocking out the media (and social media) and how his team is to stay focused on the task at hand. This week is obviously no different, “I thought our guys did a good job of just focusing in on what it is. It better not affect them, if it does we won’t win, so you have to focus on the next one. If you’re fortunate enough to go win this one, then the most important one is the next week, going to Iowa State, do you think that’s going to be easy? It could be the most challenging game we have, so you have to be in the routine . . .” First, focus on Oklahoma. Second, beat Oklahoma. Third, focus on Iowa State. After hearing Holgorsen’s remarks through the season, one can speculate that these three steps would be vital to the team’s week thus far.
Over the course of this season thus far, Holgorsen has continually spoke of how proud he is of this team. Not only is he proud of the Mountaineers, but Holgorsen seems to be genuinely enjoying himself this season. “I couldn’t be prouder of this team when it comes to just their mentality that exists with each other, just a good bunch of guys who care about each other, like to be around each other as funny as that sounds that doesn’t exist everywhere I can assure you that. It hasn’t existed in this room since I’ve been here, although this room is only two-years old. I’ve been on a lot of teams and those guys, they’re just kind of teammates, they’re not friends, but this group really likes each other . . . They do what they have to do, they expect to win, they do what they have to do to try to find a way to win in the end for the majority of the time, and that’s a great quality to have. Fun to coach.”
Holgorsen and the team seem to be gelling together and all doing what they need to do to win each week, and it has been a great thing to watch.
If the Mountaineers can once again shock the nation, quite literally, then they will be over the proverbial hump of this season. Having not yet beat Oklahoma during Big 12 Conference play, Coach Holgorsen has a large task at hand this week. Should the Moutaineers overcome Oklahoma, Morgantown will be on fire, possibly literally, and this team will deserve every ounce of celebration coming Saturday night. Coach Holgorsen seems prepared and confident; this will be a great game on Saturday and the coach seems to think so too.