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Quotes from Coach: Tough Test against Improved Texas Tech

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All smiles as the Mountaineers take the field in Fort Worth. (PHOTO: Geoff Coyle) All smiles as the Mountaineers take the field in Fort Worth. (PHOTO: Geoff Coyle)

MORGANTOWN – The West Virginia University football team returns home after a month away from Milan Puskar Stadium. Disappointment still lingers from the 31-24 loss at then-No. 8 TCU on Saturday, but Coach Holgorsen said his team responded with energy and excitement for the next opportunity.

“We need to continue to practice and continue to improve. We are probably going to be in that situation again here moving forward this year. When we are, hopefully, we can finish it,” Holgorsen said on Tuesday in his weekly press conference.

Finishing drives with points is another thing Holgorsen would like see out of his team. The Mountaineers have been more consistent in that area this season, and on Saturday field position was a big contributor as WVU was pinned inside the 10-yard line four times.

“In that game, field position probably matters. Two turnovers matter, and how you finish drives matter. Those things were probably the difference between winning and losing. In close games, those things matter.”

Another thing Holgorsen would like to see is production from the backup receivers. It’s been an issue all season and proved to be an issue on Saturday as only four receivers reeled in Will Grier’s passes. Ka’Raun White paved the way with 138 yards and one touchdown, David Sills V finished with 116 yards and two TD’s, and Gary Jennings caught 10 passes for 80 yards. The trio has combined for 1,377 yards and 13 touchdowns this season. Marcus Simms is also a big contributor.

The Mountaineers are focusing on those second team guys and hope they can contribute when needed.

I think we have some good backs that for whatever reason aren’t doing what we need them to do. It was addressed after the game. It needs to happen now,” Holgorsen said. “Whatever is preventing them from helping us win, we are addressing it now.”

Wide receivers coach Tyron Carrier added on Tuesday that Reggie Roberson is progressing quickly and he is the next man up.

*After the trip to Fort Worth, the 3-2 Mountaineers find themselves on the outside of the AP Top 25 and looking in, their next opponent, Texas Tech, snuck into the national ranks after its 4-1 start. The Red Raiders, lead by quarterback Nic Shimonek, have the highest-scoring offense in the league. Shimonek is completing 71.8 percent of his passes for 1, 811 yards, 14 touchdowns and four interceptions. Keke Coutee, Dylan Cantrell and Derrick Willies have been the top targets this season. TTU’s ground game, lead by Justin Stockton (385 yards, four touchdowns), is averaging 163.2 yards per game.

“It seems like he has the No. 1 offense in the country every single year. They are really doing a good job with their o-linemen, as far as the pass protection aspect of it. The thing that is different is they are running the ball,” Holgorsen said. “The amount of times that they are handing that thing off is more than what they have been doing. They have four wideouts that can go. They are all very capable of being able to score any time they throw them the ball. Then you add that running game element to it, it is a different deal.”

*Defensively, the Red Raiders have showed a lot of improvement. The TTU defensive is giving up 27.8 points and 437 yards per game, which is an improvement from last season as it allowed 43.5 points and 554 yards per game in 2016. Coach Holgorsen credited the TTU linebackers as a contributor to the success.

“They do a great job against the run, but they pressure the quarterback and go sideline-to-sideline as well. They are playing a lot better. It’s not surprising because I know Coach Gibbs, and they are going to play hard for him. He has always done a great job at creating turnovers, so that is going to be a big thing moving forward.”

West Virginia faces No. 24 Texas Tech on Saturday, October 14 at noon. Make sure to join us this weekend for more on the matchup during a new episode of the Dana Holgorsen Show and Mountaineer GameDay (check your local listings).

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