MORGANTOWN - Dana Holgorsen has spent a lot of time this week talking about the things West Virginia has to play for Saturday against Iowa State.None of those things, however, are tangible.He's mentioned playing for the team's 14 seniors and for pride. He's tried to remind all who would listen that this is still a Big 12 football game, even if it's the bottom of the Big 12."You play for pride,'' Holgorsen said. "Shoot, you're playing a Big 12 football game. So get out there and have fun with it and play. At some point it just comes down to having enough pride about you to fight and strain to get the victory.''
There's one thing, however, that Holgorsen refuses to treat this game as - a chance to get a head start on 2014.In truth, it might not be a bad idea. After all, West Virginia (4-7, 2-6 Big 12) has nothing of substance for which to play. Bowl eligibility isn't possible, nor is a winning season. And between Saturday and the start of next season - with a game against Alabama in Atlanta - there will be no opportunities to really test anyone outside of practice.But Holgorsen insists he won't treat this game against Iowa State (2-9, 1-7) as an opportunity for players to prove themselves heading into the offseason. Naturally, the underclassmen all have precisely that opportunity, but this won't be treated like open tryouts."We won't take that approach,'' Holgorsen said.And with good reason.
"You only get a certain amount of games and they're all important,'' Holgorsen said. "It wouldn't be fair to our seniors or fair to the fan base if we don't put our best foot forward and try to win the game.''Of course, even if Holgorsen wanted to use Saturday's game to look to the future he would have a hard time doing so. Given all the injuries the Mountaineers have suffered this season, it's not as if there are a lot of available, healthy players with which to experiment."We've only got about 50 bodies that we're going to play with anyway,'' Holgorsen said. "Yes, there are a lot of young guys out there that need to step up and play ball. But whoever deserves to play is going to play. Whether that's through practice, whether that's through preparation or it's just the next guy up."It's just like it was at Kansas and just like it was against Texas the week before. We'll come up with what we feel like gives us the best chance to win and we'll go out there and do what we can to try to win the game.''BRIEFLY: Don't expect any surprises from either team Saturday. After a combined 22 games have produced just six wins, it is logical to assume that if either team had any tricks up its sleeve they would have been used before now."There's no secret to the schemes that are going to be out there,'' Holgorsen said. "It's about who wants to get out there and play and who'll get out there and play the hardest and give the most effort and fight and strain to where you can get a win. Hopefully that will be us.''
West Virginia's injury list isn't much shorter after a week off than it was at the end of the Kansas game, but at least one senior who didn't expect to play seems ready to do just that.
Holgorsen said this week that linebacker Doug Rigg has been cleared to play after a series of concussions sidelined him much of the season.Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him at twitter.com/dphickman1.