Second-ranked Alabama did what most expected them to do last Saturday, but putting away West Virginia wasn’t as easy as many believed it would be prior to the game in Atlanta.
West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen spoke on the team’s positive attitude during Sunday’s practice after the close game against Alabama and how it could help the Mountaineers in the remaining 11 games on the 2014 schedule in Monday’s Big 12 teleconference.
“I was pleased with how things went yesterday,” said Holgorsen. “Our guys were disappointed, but very eager and attentive when it came to wanting to watch the film to make corrections and went outside and had a good practice.”
Entering the game as a 25-and-a-half point underdog to Alabama, West Virginia’s fast-paced offense kept the Crimson Tide guessing as the Mountaineers were down just three following an Adam Griffith 41-yard field goal as time expired for the first half.
After drops by normally sure-handed receivers that put the brakes on promising drive in the second half, Holgorsen knows that West Virginia wasted chances at making the game even closer than the eventual outcome.
“Going into the fourth quarter, we had ample opportunities to be able to make plays in critical situations,” he said. “I think the thing that we learned from it is that we’re going to be in a lot of those games. We were in those games last year against a bunch of good teams. We’re going to be in those games again this year against a bunch of good teams. We’re going to need to make plays and make plays calls in critical situations.”
In the fourth quarter, West Virginia’s three drives only took a combined three minutes and 29 seconds off the game clock, while nearly every other Mountaineer drive took more than double that off the clock in the three prior quarters. Alabama’s offense slowly churned out first down after first down that didn’t give West Virginia another chance to make a comeback.
“We can improve and build on the good things that we did and fix the bad things that we did. We played pretty well. We just didn’t play very good in critical situations,” Holgoresen said. “That was problem for us last year on both sides of the ball. Critical situations are hard. Good teams are good in critical situations. That’s why Alabama has won a whole bunch of games.”
With the strong performance against Alabama and practice over the weekend, Holgorsen likes where his team is at ahead of Saturday’s home opener against Towson, who also lost on Saturday in a 31-27 upset by Central Connecticut State.
“Our guys are in a good place right now,” he said. “We’re not interested in any moral victories, but we felt like we could play with those guys and went into the game in a good frame of mind. Both coaches and player were disappointed, but both eager and determined to turn that disappointment into an opportunity to win a game this week.”