West Virginia (3-3, 1-2) enters this bye week at the appropriate time with a long list of players on the mend and the Mountaineers looking to become a more consistent football team in every aspect.
Players had Monday and Tuesday off to heal their wounds as the list of those injured continues to swell and after reviewing the tape it was apparent that the Bears were much more fresh and energized than the Mountaineers after coming off their bye week.
The list of players that are currently injured include Nick Kwiatkoski and Dustin Garrison with hamstring injuries, Quinton Spain and Ivan McCartney (concussions), Ricky Rumph (foot), Clint Trickett and Mario Alford (shoulders), Ford Childress (pectoral) and West Tonkery (thumb).
At this point head coach Dana Holgorsen expects all of those players to be ready for next weekend's noon kickoff against Texas Tech (5-0, 2-0) outside of Tonkery, who he isn't sure of the progress report yet. Trickett will be given this week off to rest and mend his injured shoulder, while Childress should be close to coming back after regaining strength last week and even practicing in limited fashion.
"We've just got to get healthy and try to keep improving. Our football team is very inexperienced and needs to keep playing and improving," he said.
Holgorsen would not fully commit to Trickett as his starter moving forward saying that Childress never did anything to lose the job, but he did say that the Florida State transfer would get the call against the Red Raiders unless Childress does something in practice to sway his opinion.
All three quarterbacks have two starts under their belts this season and each will continue to be evaluated as they develop in the scheme. After playing very well against Oklahoma State, Trickett played only average against Baylor although Holgorsen said he wasn't sure if that was due to his shoulder injury.
In terms of communication, Holgorsen described it as still an on-going work in progress with his quarterback and said that Trickett still is not fully able to change plays at this point in the season. He also wasn't pleased with the tempo that the West Virginia offense played with throughout the Baylor game and that sense of urgency must increase by understanding the calls and relaying it quicker.
Holgorsen said that his team's struggles offensively are new territory for him, as the Mountaineers have failed to find consistency in a number of areas across the board with so many new faces.
"It's a dynamic I don't like and it's a dynamic that's not beneficial to your football team," he said.
"We knew we were going to be a work in progress. Everybody knew that," he added.
Aside from getting healthy, the goal this week will continue to show those areas of improvement such as guys understanding what to do and working to play with effort and getting on the same page timing wise. Holgorsen said that from watching the tape you can see some areas that are showing those things, but the consistency has not been there to this point.
"What you have to do is line up and try to figure out what you can change. We had things we did wrong on Saturday that we can work on today. That's what we'll do. We will try to get better at a couple of things each and every day. That's what the whole team needs to do, especially offensively," he said.
That inconsistency also has stretched to the offensive line, where Holgorsen said he likes the lineup but the group has been up and down throughout the first six games. The head man will once again count on his senior leaders to step up and help the team battle through the off-week like they did after the Maryland game.
"Their jobs aren't done. We need them to get us back on track and prepare to prepare for game week against Texas Tech, get out there and play our tail off," he said.
Holgorsen said that the defense reverted to some of its old habits against Baylor by hitting the panic button after the Mountaineers fell behind early, leading to some lost discipline and mistakes. The Bears ability to run the ball caused the Mountaineers to bring safeties up, which resulted in big plays over the top.
The head coach was pleased with the special teams last week, particularly the kick returners, which he had referred to as garbage the week before.