Halftime the Turning Point in WVU Victory - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Halftime the Turning Point in WVU Victory


What could a group of coaches have said to a team to get it from 10 points in the first half to 45 in the second?

"Do you really want me to repeat it?" Dana Holgorsen asked in his postgame press conference Saturday.

Well, yes, we did. Whatever he said should be used at the start of any future game in which an FBS power takes on an FCS opponent. Whatever he said took a 12-10 deficit and flipped it on its head for a 55-12 blowout victory.

It wasn't just the offense, though that may have been the more obvious of the impotence WVU displayed through 30 minutes. The defense didn't allow a touchdown the second-straight game, but it sure did let NSU rack up the yards.

On 38 plays, the Spartans put up 242 yards while holding onto the ball for over 19 minutes to WVU's nearly 11. The Mountaineers offense couldn't put together a drive and the defense couldn't stop one.

West Virginia's fans were showing their frustration, too, with a chorus of boos raining down from the stands. Holgorsen says he didn't hear them, but he can't say he blames them.

"I probably would have booed, too," he said.

In the second half, though, the jeers became cheers. In 33 first half plays, the Mountaineers scored twice with just one touchdown. There was even one sequence in which six-straight plays from the one-yard-line yielded zero touchdowns. Holgorsen called it "flat out embarrassing."

20 plays into the second half, WVU had five touchdowns and only had one third down along the way. It was a completely different team.

But Holgorsen says all the play calls were the same. It wasn't the scheme, it was the execution and the effort.

"I can assure you it's nothing schematically," said Holgorsen. "I'm not saying that we know everything about coaching… We just didn't decide to put a bunch of plays together than haven't been proven to work. It's about being a work in progress and just getting better."

Devon Brown, who led the WVU receivers with 109 yards on four receptions, says the team was shown a highlight video the morning of the game that was filled with FCS teams beating FBS opponents. The coaches had been drilling into their heads all week not to underestimate Norfolk State and this was one last attempt at conveying that message.

Apparently it didn't work.

"[Holgorsen] tries to preach each week [to] always respect your opponent, no matter who it is," says Brown. "He was trying to instill that in us and I just don't think that we all bought into it at the beginning. Then in the second half we realized they can beat, we're losing right now at half. I think everyone realized in order to get where we want to be, we have to play better than we did in the first half."

Although Holgorsen wouldn't share any of his personal halftime message, true freshman running back Dustin Garrison did reflect on his quarterback's mentality at the break. An unquestioned leader on the team, Geno Smith told his teammates that they had to come out and play their game, regardless of who lined up across from them.

"Going into the locker room at halftime, there were a lot of emotions in there," says Garrison. "A lot of people were upset – coaches, players, everybody was upset. We had to come in at halftime in the locker room and just get mentally prepared for the second half."

It's amazing what a quick score can do for a team, and to pile on six more after that took a tension-filled sideline and turned it into a place for laughter and celebration.

But while some of the players could take pleasure in the idea that a win is a win and the second half was far better than the first, Dana Holgorsen cannot.

"We're going to keep them accountable for what the team does, what the unit does and there's not a whole lot of satisfaction that's involved in it now. We've got a long ways to go," said Holgorsen.

"I'm not pleased with anybody right now."

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