Tuesday afternoon Coach Dana Holgorsen addressed the media in one of the coach’s final mid-week press conferences for the regular season. Holgorsen addressed the media on the heel’s of the team’s devastating loss Saturday against Texas. This week the team, and head coach, are focused solely on facing the Oklahoma Sooners. Thanksgiving week leaves the team a great amount of time for football, and that is one thing our head coach is grateful for.
Coach Holgorsen opened his conference with an apparent excitement about the week ahead, despite the evident uphill battle he’s about to lead his team into.
“It’s a football week. There are less distractions and has everything to do with just football and your football family and getting to spend a little more time with each other,” Holgorsen said. “They’re a great team, and we’ve competed hard against these guys for the last five years and it’s been extremely competitive, and we’ve come up short. So, we have an opportunity to go win in Norman for the first time; it’s the only place in the Big 12 we haven’t won. We have an opportunity to beat Oklahoma, which we haven’t beaten Oklahoma around here in a while. All that is what our sights are set on, and that’s all we’re thinking about. We’re not thinking about what’s after that, we’re not thinking about who we’re going to be playing in the bowl game or next year or any of that. It’s about Oklahoma this week, and that’s all that matters here for the next five days.”
Coach Holgorsen was quick to discuss how good of a team Oklahoma is, knowing fair well his team has quite the task at hand. As everyone knows by now, the Mountaineers are going into Oklahoma with quarterback Chris Chugunov making his first career start in light of Will Grier’s injury from the Texas game. The head coach spoke about Chugunov’s preparations for this week, highlighting how he felt his quarterback did well coming in quickly at a time when team morale was down.
“He knows what to do; there wasn’t anything that we did last week that he didn’t know what to do. He’s been here for three years, he’s smart, he’s a 4.0 student, he’s had a lot of reps throughout spring and camp, he’s been through three springs and three camps. He’s ready to go,” Holgorsen remarked. “I was happy with the way he competed last week. He went in there and competed his tail off.”
Holgorsen remarked on how his team’s mood shifted following Grier’s injury, highlighting just how close this Mountaineers team is with one another. Despite the injury to the star quarterback, and the outcome of the game, Holgorsen was proud of his team. This pride shone through the head coach, which goes to show the effort and affection put into this team. Regardless of the outcome, Holgorsen knew his team was down, then watched their morale rally and do their best to overcome the adverse situation no one wanted to be in.
“I think there was an element in the game, that second quarter, I think everybody was like, “Oh, crap.” I think that’s probably the human element of what we do. Everybody saw it, and I don’t know if you could script a play more devastating to a team. From taking points off the board, to the defense having to go right out there, everybody saw the finger. You can’t script it any worse. You guys know it, and I know it. I think the human element was like, “Oh, crap” for about a quarter,” Holgorsen remarked. “Then, I was really proud of everybody at halftime. We went into halftime and there wasn’t panic, there wasn’t give-up, there wasn’t the let’s-take-the-pads-off mentality. I was proud of the coaches and proud of the players. We got together, and we attacked it, and we played our tail off in the second half. We got ourselves into position to where we were only down seven points on a couple of different drives. We just didn’t have enough to be able to close it out.”
Holgorsen was nevertheless realistic when discussing his team facing off with Oklahoma, making it known he knows the odds are stacked against his players. Despite the odds, Holgorsen reminded everyone they should still go out and give it their all, while having fun at the same time.
“I can’t remember the last time we’ve been in this situation. What do we have to lose, you know? Let’s go play ball, let’s have fun, let’s rally around (redshirt sophomore quarterback Chris Chugunov), let’s play our tail off,” Holgorosen commented. “This season changes drastically if we can go win this one. Nobody expects us to win, everybody gets that. They’re a great team.”
Coach Holgorsen gave an update, albeit brief and succinct, about quarterback Will Grier. As many know, the head coach has a strict policy on not discussing his injured players. The head coach clearly sympathizes with those wanting to know some sort of an update on the quarterback, and he managed to dangle just a carrot of Grier details. The coach had not spoke to Grier as of conference, noting the quarterback was making his way back to Morgantown on the heels of a successful surgery down in Charlotte.
“Not yet. I will here this afternoon, he’ll be up here in a little bit. He got back late last night, and he’ll be around all week. He’s anxious to find out what the game plan is and watch practice and be there as another set of eyes. We rarely take injured guys on road trips, he’ll be going. He’ll be on the trip. He wants to support his guys and help be a coach on the sidelines. That’s the kind of kid that we’re dealing with,” Holgorsen said. “We all know Will, and what kind of a teammate he is, and his football IQ. It’ll probably be pretty comforting to (redshirt sophomore quarterback Chris Chugunov) to have him on the sidelines to be able to talk to him.”
Overall, Coach Holgorsen showed the media Tuesday afternoon that he is going into this Oklahoma week with a thankful, happy attitude and is focused on his team putting their best foot forward despite the apparent obstacles. Who knows, maybe the head coach will have a big victory to be thankful for on Saturday evening.