West Virginia's four-game skid is a first for Holgorsen

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In his nearly 20-year college football coaching career, Dana Holgorsen has never been a part of a four-game losing streak.

Not at Oklahoma State, Houston, Texas Tech, even Valdosta State or Wingate.

"Not a lot of fun for anybody," said Holgorsen in his weekly news conference. "The only way to get out of it is to work hard. You know, so that's what our coaching staff's doing."

Holgorsen said the coaching staff put in long days Sunday and Monday after a loss at Oklahoma State and planned another on Tuesday to combat the many problems that have arisen.

"That's the only way you're going to get out of a losing streak," he said. "We understand what the challenges are. We're realistic with them. We're recruiting hard. We're managing the team hard. ... The only way you can win is by hard work. We're going to work hard."

Paramount, he said, was working on the basics of special teams.

"It's all elementary stuff," Holgorsen said. "Should we have to work on that? Yes, I guess. We kind of took some of that stuff for granted, which I'll take responsibility of that."

Fourth down

Holgorsen said he does not want to make a habit of trying to convert on fourth as much as the team has this season.

"I don't want to get in the habit of going for it on fourth down five to seven times a game. Do not want to," said Holgorsen. "If you look back at the games there's been a couple of times this year we've done that."

The Mountaineers converted 4 of 7 on fourth down against Oklahoma State, including a touchdown pass by quarterback Geno Smith.

"It's our job offensively to score. Our job to keep going forward," Holgorsen said. "If you look at all seven of them [against Oklahoma State], there was only one I questioned. That was the one in the fourth quarter [when we were] backed up on our 35 or 40. Looking back at it, I kind of question it a little bit. ... Other than that, the other six I'd do it again."

Run game

Holgorsen said the team's inability to find an effective run game is a "huge issue" and one that he will try to change with a concerted effort to pick up running backs for next year's recruiting class.

"We are working extremely hard to recruit about five or six running backs who can come in here and give us help, and until that happens, it is what it is," Holgorsen said.

Shawne Alston has been limited in his return from a thigh bruise, leaving the bulk of reps to sophomore Andrew Buie.

"[Buie] is averaging almost 5 yards a rush, but you give it to him 20 times a game, he is going to wear down. He is not that type of guy who can handle that many carries," Holgorsen said.

Holgorsen pointed out the lack of a run game goes beyond Buie.

"We did a poor job of establishing the line of scrimmage. Look at all our third and shorts. We have no push. We had none," he said. "We were garbage on third and short, fourth and short, when we handed the ball off. That is combination of just not controlling the line of scrimmage up front and not having good enough running backs to be able to get the yards that we need."

Offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson, said at times the team is one-dimensional.

"Throwing the ball is a lot easier when you have an effective running game. Windows are wider, safeties bite harder," he said. "There were times [Oklahoma State] respected the run game and we had some wide open people. There's times when we get eight, 10 yards a carry. Put it this way, I've been in situations before where the run game was worse."

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Jenn Menendez: jmenendez@post-gazette.com and Twitter @JennMenendez.


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