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Mountaineer Leadership

Devin Jones, MORGANTOWN -

A blowout loss to the Terrapins last weekend left Mountaineer redshirt senior Shaq Rowell showcasing his emotions. 

"They flat out beat us on all three sides of the ball," said Rowell. "I'm embarrassed."

It was an ugly loss on Saturday afternoon, but the leadership showed through. Despite losing 37-0, the team never gave up. Defensive Coordinator Keith Patterson credits his seniors.

"I was happy with the leadership by our seniors," said Patterson. "It's great seeing your players continue to play the game regardless of the score."

The loss is history, as the Mountaineers returned to practice on Tuesday afternoon at Milan Puskar Stadium in preparation for this weekend against Oklahoma State. Coach Patterson was impressed by the practice.

"It might have been the best practice we've had all season," said Patterson. "The guys showed a lot of spirit and heart. You could see their focus."

Each practice becomes more important as conference play is set into motion. The competition level also increases, as the Mountaineers face five teams that are currently ranked over the next eight games. The challenge will be tough, but leadership from the seniors will become even more critical in the coming weeks.

The offense has been a disaster in the first four games, and senior Cody Clay hopes that he can help get the younger guys back to just playing the game.

"We all need to get back to the basics," said Clay. "The younger guys can't be afraid to make mistakes. As a leader on this team, I have to help these guys to relax and have fun."

Will Clarke, senior defensive end, is coming off his best performance of the season. Coach Patterson said that it was the best game Will has played in his time at West Virginia. Clarke is a leader on the defense, and knows that the season is far from over.

"We still have eight conference games," said Clarke. "We have to just fix our mistakes, and get better each week."

The game this weekend is a chance for redemption. Pulling off the upset would be huge for the Mountaineers confidence going forward, and could possibly provide a spark. West Virginia will face another dual threat quarterback in J.W. Walsh. Defensive Coordinator Keith Patterson said that games earlier in the season against Oklahoma and Maryland will help in preparing for the Cowboys.

Tempo is the definition of the Oklahoma State offense, and Coach Dana Holgorsen says the Cowboys bring a whole new definition to the word.

"These guys love to go fast," said Holgorsen in his press conference Tuesday afternoon. "They like to go faster than Oregon."

The Mountaineer defense will have the task of slowing the Cowboy offense. Cornerback Ishmael Banks said watching film will help slow the game down for the unit.

"The more film the better," said Banks. "It'll help slow the game down."

Ford Childress will be getting his first Big 12 start this weekend. Coach Patterson hopes his defense can create some opportunities for the offense.

"We have to get some turnovers or win the field position battle," said Patterson. "Getting our offense some chances would help our team."

The Mountaineers begin a brutal stretch over the next month this Saturday against Oklahoma State. The "Gold Rush" against the Cowboys will be televised nationally at noon on ESPN.


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