MORGANTOWN - Cleaning out a crowded notebook and a cluttered mind as thoroughly as my brother-in-law cleans a turkey, which is to say boiling the bones for soup:Someone asked Dana Holgorsen the other day what he was thankful for at Thanksgiving.
Somehow he resisted what was certainly an overpowering urge to say, "The end of a crappy season.''He shouldn't have resisted. No one would have argued the point.If Clemsoning is a thing, why isn't Oregoning?
Sure, I understand the difference. Clemsoning always meant losing to someone ridiculous, the annual rite of turning in a head-shaking performance against some really average football team. And Oregon - last week's stunning flop against Rich Rodriguez's middling Arizona Wildcats notwithstanding - usually isn't guilty of that.What the Ducks do seem to consistently do is wow the nation and the pollsters with dazzling offense and somehow get into the position of being a sure-fire national title participant if they just win out. And then they don't, usually losing to Stanford.Oregoning just doesn't sound right, though. Let's call it Ducking.Of the 14 players on West Virginia's football team who have combined to score the team's 272 points this season, only two had scored prior to this season. One is a safety, Darwin Cook. The other is Ivan McCartney, who last year quit the team before returning this season.
We bring that up because of this from Holgorsen earlier this week:"I don't ever anticipate being in the situation that we're in this year when it comes to a lack of continuity,'' Holgorsen said. "New quarterbacks, injured quarterbacks, new skill guys across the board, new coaches. I just don't anticipate this ever happening again.''His point is that his offense was essentially starting from scratch, a fact illustrated by that scoring stat: Only two players who had scored in previous seasons scored this season, and one was a safety. Likewise, the team's leading passer, its top five rushers and six of the top seven receivers had never thrown a pass, run the ball or caught it at West Virginia. Of the team's 1,572 rushing yards, returnees accounted for minus-26 yards.Do what you will with those numbers. And have fun either excusing Holgorsen for dealing with a lousy situation or blaming him for creating it. It's your call.Speaking of Cook and McCartney, those are two of the team's 14 seniors. I'm not sure West Virginia has ever had a more diverse group.
Consider that of those 14, only five are traditional fifth-year guys who arrived as scholarship players - Cook, defensive end Will Clarke and offensive linemen Pat Eger, Curtis Feigt and Nick Kindler (all spent their entire careers in the same meeting rooms except Feigt, who was originally a defensive lineman). Another fifth-year senior, linebacker Tyler Anderson, came as a walk-on before earning his ride. And another was a walk-on all along, running back Nate Majnaric, who has spent five years in the program without ever playing a down.
There are two fourth-year seniors who were never redshirted, McCartney and linebacker Doug Rigg. Another fourth-year guy, defensive lineman Trevor Demko, was redshirted and is listed as a junior, but will graduate and has apparently elected to pass on his fifth year of eligibility and get on with his life.Nose guard Shaq Rowell and safety William Marable came from junior colleges and played three years, Rowell the last two as the starting nose and Marable on special teams. Linebacker Dozie Ezemma played two years at New Haven before transferring (and missing virtually all of this season after breaking a leg in the opener), and running back Charles Sims played his three years at Houston before arriving this summer.So if you want to root for a guy Saturday in the finale against Iowa State, I'd suggest Majnaric. Let Rudy play.Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him at twitter.com/dphickman1.