WVU Defense Claims No Moral Victories - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

WVU Defense Claims No Moral Victories

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MORGANTOWN -

West Virginia will claim no moral victories. A loss is a loss and no matter if the game is in the bag by the half or if it is allowed to survive until the final play, it counts all the same.

For the Mountaineers, though, there was a chance in this one. After two-straight blowouts, Dana Holgorsen's players and coaches were able to stay with Texas Christian until the end.

The problem is, those on WVU's sideline will tell you it never should have reached the point where overtime decided the outcome. It never should have hinged on a two-point conversion.

And it never should have resulted in the program's first three-game losing streak since 2004.

Joe DeForest and Keith Patterson's defense came out with a few obvious changes from previous weeks, including the two switching positions as DeForest manned the box and Patterson stepped down onto the field.

"I thought it went really well today," Patterson said. "You're trying to get people form the press box to the field and information out onto the field and we've just got to make sure that we communicate and I thought we did a really good job of that today, making adjustments. Our players did a really good job of communicating together."

Whatever the reason and whether it had any impact on the play in front of them, the two coordinators must have seen progress from their unit.

A three-and-out on TCU's first drive brought on a boisterous standing ovation from the crowd, which may have been unaware of what such things looked like after losses to Texas Tech and Kansas State.

Holding the Horned Frogs to just 14 first half points was a great improvement as well, and the energy from the sideline reflected that. The Mountaineers yielded just 128 yards in the first half, keeping the visitors at bay despite another slow start from the WVU offense.

"They played great. They played spectacular. This is probably the best game they've played all year as far as just making plays," quarterback Geno Smith said. "They came out with intense energy. Those guys were very motivated and I think they played a great game. At times when we should have stepped up as an offense and they got us the ball back, we didn't."

Smith may have been able to point out the positives from his teammates on the other side of the ball, but those playing defense wouldn't acknowledge it with any pleasure.

"We're here to win football games, so we've never subscribed to moral victories. We know that when we watch the tape, we're going to see some aspects of the game that we can learn from, both in a positive and negative light. For us, you just have to always put your team in a position to win."

Through the game, West Virginia's defenders allowed TCU to convert on just 4-of-17 third down attempts. Three of those came on one drive in the first quarter.

They did their job to a certain extent, and to a far greater one than for much of the season leading up to that point, but a special teams fumble-turned-touchdown, missed field goals and an offense doing its best to match TCU at failed execution on third downs kept the game in question.

With just over two minutes remaining, WVU had the Frogs' quarterback right where it wanted him. Back up to his own end zone, fresh off a sack and with the pressure on, Trevone Boykin scrambled and found Josh Boyce racing back in bounds and down the sideline, evading any would be defender in a race to the opposite end of the stadium.

If you blinked, you missed it. Evidently, the 11 in gold and gray had blinked.

"We had pressure on the quarterback and the way it looked, maybe the guys thought that we might have had him and the receiver slipped behind us. That's the way it looked," said defense end Will Clarke.

The rest was written with a double overtime two-point try and a loss, scratching out any positives that could have been taken from what transpired and continuing what has been a fast fall from grace in Morgantown. Still, the bright spots allow a defense that once looked lost in the dark the opportunity for optimism, even if it may not have yet come into focus.

"We felt like we were in control the whole time," said Patterson. "It just felt like things were going really well and kids had a good look on their face and were playing hard and kept believing all the way to the end."

That belief only pushed Patterson's troops so far. But it could have restored faith that had vanished in previous weeks. There are sparks to what had fizzled out more than a month ago and for any momentum to carry over to Stillwater in seven days, the faith must remain.

"We're going to see what we did right and capitalize on them," said linebacker Isaiah Bruce. "We're going to see what we did wrong, correct those mistakes and come out with a different mindset. We've got to hate to lose more than we hate to win, so we're going to go into next week with even more excitement and even more drive to win."

For now, though, a loss is a loss.

West Virginia will be back to a search for answers, this one focused so much on what led to a 94-yard strike at the most inopportune time.

With four games remaining, little more than pride stands as motivation.

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