If West Virginia University fans haven't figured it out by now that they have a head football coach that isn't afraid to tell it like it is, then they haven't been paying much attention to the events that have been going on in Morgantown.
"We were out-coached and out-played," explained first-year head coach Dana Holgorsen of his team's 49-23 loss to Syracuse on Friday night during a Sunday teleconference. "They (Syracuse) played with more effort and more energy. If I could figure that out, I'd write a book."
There will be little time to accomplish that feat this week as the No. 25 Mountaineers (5-2, 1-1 Big East) travel to New Brunswick, N.J., to face a University of Rutgers squad that was picked to finish in the cellar by the league's media, but comes into the 3:30 p.m. contest, that will be televised by ABC, with a 5-2 mark-2-1 in the Big East.
Offensively, WVU averages more than 10 points (38.3-28.0) and 100 yards (489.9-327.9) of offense per game than does Rutgers, but defensively the numbers favor the Scarlet Knights as the Mountaineers' 3-3-5 stack alignment has surrendered 25.4 points and 321.4 yards per game compared to just 16 points and 301.3 yards by Rutgers.
"It (losing) is no fun," Holgorsen said. "It's what we do. It's our job. We only get 12 opportunities a year and when it doesn't work out, we feel terrible. We have got to put ourselves in as good of a position as we can to win the ballgame and we didn't do that Friday night."
But, it also isn't the end of the world for the old gold and blue.
A victory over the Knights-a feat WVU has accomplished 32 times since the two teams began playing one another in 1916 and 16 times in a row since 1995-would put the Mountaineers back in the hunt for the Big East title and the automatic BCS bowl berth that goes with it. Sure, it will be tough, but you have to like the team's chances with home games remaining against a struggling Louisville squad (Nov. 5) and the "Backyard Brawl" against an up-and-down Pittsburgh team (Nov. 25).
Road games at Cincinnati (Nov. 12) and South Florida (Dec. 1) could prove to be critical, but the Mountaineers have enjoyed a lot of success against the Bearcats (15-3-1 overall) and it would be hard to believe that a game in Tampa with the conference title on the line wouldn't prove to be more than enough impetus to propel West Virginia past the struggling Bulls.
It starts, however, in New Jersey.
Holgorsen and his staff, especially defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel and his assistants, have got to find a way to get this group motivated to play. Too many times fans have had to sit back and watch an uninspired effort from the Mountaineers early in contests and it came back to haunt them in losses to LSU (47-21) and Syracuse.
The talent appears to be in Morgantown to make a legitimate run at the conference title. The coaching is also there. Now, it is up to the players to "walk the walk" if they are going to "talk the talk".
Contact Jim Butta at email@example.com