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West Virginia TCU Football

TCU safety Nick Orr (18) intercepts a pass in front of West Virginia wide receiver Marcus Simms (8). Despite losing to the Horned Frogs, WVU coach Dana Holgorsen liked the team’s body language in the days following the game.

MORGANTOWN – WVU football coach Dana Holgorsen briefs the media each week on his team’s next opponent, and Tuesday was no different.

“Texas Tech is playing probably as good or better than we’ve seen since the first year we played them four years ago, when they beat our tail,” Holgorsen said. “They’re confident. They’re playing well. They’re playing hard. They’re playing together better than I’ve seen them play.”

Yet the most pressing question of the day centered on the coach’s Mountaineers. The team just lost its second game of the season Saturday, falling to then No. 8 TCU 31-24. Las Vegas bookies, according to Bovada, have completely removed WVU from the board in regard to national championship odds. The string of losses to Top 25 opponents has now reached nine. And, yes, Texas Tech is ranked No. 24 for Saturday’s matchup.

So how has this WVU bunch reacted to the situation?

“Good,” Holgorsen said. “Good. I think we’ve got good leadership with some older guys. It means a lot to them and they’ve been around here for a while.

“I kind of stood right [at the podium in the team room] in front of the group on Sunday and gave them my two cents worth. I mean, they were attentive. We watched video. We went downstairs and lifted weights and went outside and were bouncing around pretty good.

“They’re excited about playing football,” he continued. “That’s all you can ask for. The effort has been good. I thought we prepared for that [TCU] game as hard as any group I’ve been around, just the way we practiced and the way the meetings went, especially Friday. I liked how we traveled and how they acted at the hotel. I can kind of sense sometimes disinterest, but it was nothing but locked in and ready to go. I couldn’t be happier with the way they prepared and I couldn’t be happier with the effort they played with.”

Holgorsen said the result was the spoiler.

“It gets discouraging when all that happens and you just don’t get a few breaks and win,” he said. “It was a game we had a chance to win, but TCU played pretty good too. And they’re a Top [6] team. We had a chance to win. We need to make a few corrections and improve in specific areas.

“We’ll probably be in that situation again moving forward. When we are, hopefully we can finish it.”

Briefly

n Holgorsen was asked when he’ll get help for his starting receivers.

“Aug. 1,” he said, referring to next season. “How many times do I have to complain about it? Depth is still an issue. It’s an issue at receivers. It’s an issue at O-line.”

n Against TCU, Jonn Young punted once in place of starter Billy Kinney. Also, field goal kicker Mike Molina took a turn kicking off in place of Evan Staley.

“Well, Billy cramped,” Holgorsen said. “I don’t understand it, but he did. Jonn Young has been hurt. I said, ‘Jonn, get in there and punt.’ I liked his demeanor. Evan [Staley] has been doing a really good job for us, but going into the wind I was a little nervous about No. 25 [KaVontae Turpin]. … We were going to try and squib it.”

It’s the second time this season Kinney has had trouble with cramps.

n Holgorsen said he’s not big on sending video to the Big 12 office for reviews of officials’ calls.

“It’s a waste of time,” he said. “I’m not saying we haven’t done it. I used to spend four hours a week with [Mike] Leach on these plays, writing a thesis. Then you send it in. Then you spend five hours the next week. … Where does it end?

“There have been times when [associate athletic director for football] Alex [Hammond] sends in two or three plays for a rules explanation. If it helps teach players, we’re going to get some help on it. But does it make me feel better? No. Will it change the outcome? No.”

n Holgorsen spent time Tuesday lauding Texas Tech punter Dominic Panazzolo, a native of Australia. The Mountaineer coach, however, said he doesn’t “know what’s up with their kicker.” Clayton Hatfield was a returning All-Big 12 performer, but had hip flexor trouble and hasn’t kicked so far. Still, he’s listed No. 1 on Tech’s depth chart for the WVU game.

n The Mountaineers now have not one but two true freshmen playing along the defensive line: starter Lamonte McDougle and Darius Stills.

“Right now we feel [Stills] gives us a chance,” said WVU defensive coordinator Tony Gibson. “If we think they will help us win, we’re going to play them.”

Gibson complimented McDougle on his first start.

“I thought he played very well,” said the coach. “That center [Austin Schlottmann] he went against was a [second-team] All-Big 12 player a year ago and I thought he handled himself well.”

Stills is a product of Fairmont Senior High.

“Just like the way he uses his hands,” Gibson said. “He’s active. He’s athletic and can run some things down and get off of blocks. I like the way he plays and prepares. I probably should have played him earlier.”

Reach Mitch Vingle at 304-348-4827 or mitchvingle@wvgazette.com. Follow him on Twitter @MitchVingle.