Attitude Allows WVU to Overcome Mistakes, Win as Team - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Attitude Allows WVU to Overcome Mistakes, Win as Team

TAMPA, Fla. -

The Mountaineers have proven this season that they have an inability to put together a full game. Ask for 60 minutes and instead you'll get some fraction of the whole.

For the third consecutive game, that fraction was just enough.

Adversity has been a theme this team has not only had to deal with and overcome, but one it has embraced throughout its 12-game season and on Thursday, it came in bunches.

An overturned incomplete pass gave South Florida its first touchdown of the game and three second half turnovers led to 13 points for the Bulls. Despite that, facing a 7-point deficit, the Mountaineers fought back and put together the right plays at the right time to win a Big East championship.

"I think it's just our attitude," freshman running back Dustin Garrison opines. "We want to go out there and put points on the board fast, but sometimes we've got to make adjustments and things like that."

At times in the final 30 minutes of the game, it was looking like South Florida was the only team making any adjustments. Through 17 unanswered points, the Bulls had overtaken momentum and appeared poised to end WVU's chance at leaving the Big East with one last crown.

But just when things appeared their worst, the offense clicked. The defense held and the special teams finished the deal.

"[I'm] just proud of them and obviously glad that we pulled it out, but the way that we pulled it out is just kind of who this team has become and our guys have kind of took to that and just figured out ways to win is the bottom line," says WVU head coach Dana Holgorsen.

Time and time again, Geno Smith and company were incapable of converting on third downs. In __ attempts, they were successful just twice. Drives that showed life stalled out, killing momentum. Even more never really got going at all.

But the other part of that statistic is in what West Virginia accomplished after three of those attempts failed. The Mountaineers were able to get the first down yardage on the next play, making good on each of their three fourth down tries.

Two of those were passes to Stedman Bailey, and the final one – the one that set up the game-winning field goal – was a spectacular play.

After extending his body to reel in the reception, Bailey was hurt and exhausted and couldn't bring himself to his feet. He needed to, though, because an injury timeout was not something the Mountaineers could afford. Fail to legally spike the ball and time runs out, the game goes to overtime.

That's when Shawne Alston came to Bailey's aid, lifting the receiver to his feet and positioning him to allow Smith to stop the clock and set up the game-winner.

I seen him down and I knew we had no more timeouts, so I was just trying to grab him up and just get him to stand on the line and Tyler came in and sealed the game," says Alston.

It was another example of performance under fire. The Mountaineers have been in situations this season when they absolutely needed things to work just right and that sense of urgency has carried them through.

With the game on the line, West Virginia's offense came to life. A 77-yard drive ending in a Garrison touchdown pulled WVU even and then the offense stood on the sideline simply hoping the defense could hold one more time.

It did one better, with Najee Goode forcing a fumble and the Mountaineers taking over just as the Bulls were positioning themselves for a late win.

"We depend on each other now," says Alston. "It builds that trust like okay, if the offense needs a stop, the defense goes out there and gets it. If the offense has to put points on the board, the offense is able to go out there and get it. So it definitely builds a lot of trust in the players."

That's really all Holgorsen has been asking of his players for many weeks now. There was a question earlier in the season regarding how much support the players showed for each other outwardly on game days.

The question no longer exists. The team is finding ways to pull together when it counts, but it continues to fall into situations it shouldn't. The key in turning bad situations into three-straight wins has been the determination to greet adversity, their old friend, and conquer it.

"Above all else, just keep playing. Keep playing and in the end, we'll find a way to win," says Holgorsen. "It's what you call a team and these guys have finally got it."

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