West Virginia notebook: Coaches' friendship put aside until after game

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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- Mentor and protégé will patrol opposite sidelines at Milan Puskar Stadium Saturday afternoon when West Virginia plays host to No. 16 Texas Tech.

West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen and first-year Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury have a long history.

"We're cut from the same cloth," Holgorsen said Tuesday.

Holgorsen was an assistant coach at Texas Tech a decade ago when Kingsbury was the star quarterback. After Kingsbury's pro football career came to a close in 2008, Holgorsen helped draw him to the University of Houston, where Holgorsen was offensive coordinator, and the two roomed together.

Kingsbury returned to his alma mater in December to replace Tommy Tuberville, becoming the second-youngest Division I head coach.

"I wouldn't be here right now if it weren't for him," Kingsbury said of Holgorsen.

But the two aren't busy swapping old stories this week. Holgorsen is trying to pull the Mountaineers (3-3, 1-2 Big 12) out of a nosedive while Kingsbury and his Red Raiders are riding a perfect record (6-0, 3-0).

"We worry about our own teams," Holgorsen said. "The sentimental side, the personal side typically doesn't exist. Every time you play against guys that you like, you wish them a lot of luck in every game other than one."

The familiarity -- and the similarities -- between the two coaches makes preparing a game plan a snap. Whether it works, though, is the critical question.

"We know what they're going to do offensively," Holgorsen said. "Whether we can stop it is going to be the challenge."

Texas Tech served West Virginia, a 7-point underdog this week, its first loss of the season a year ago, a 49-14 defeat in Lubbock, Texas, that started the Mountaineers' five-game losing streak. With the programs now on opposite trajectories, it's West Virginia's chance to play the spoiler.

Kingsbury is the first Texas Tech coach to start 6-0 in his debut season. The Red Raiders boast the 13th-ranked scoring offense (41.8 points per game) and 15th-ranked scoring defense (17.3) in Division I-A.

"The task at hand is once again tough," Holgorsen said. "We didn't play very well the last Big 12 game we played [a 73-42 loss to Baylor], and the good news is we get a chance to redeem ourselves against another top-20 opponent that is undefeated."

Quarterback issues

There is no shortage of quarterback questions on both sides of this matchup.

West Virginia has started three quarterbacks for two games each, and Holgorsen hasn't named a starter for this game.

If his throwing shoulder is healthy again, redshirt junior Clint Trickett, who started the past two games before an off week, is the presumed starter.

"The week off really did Clint well," Holgorsen said.

Junior quarterback Paul Millard "is doing the same thing that he's done each and every week -- does what we ask of him," Holgorsen said. Redshirt freshman Ford Childress "has got to do a little bit better" to catch up after missing the past two games with a torn pectoral muscle.

The Red Raiders bring in a dynamic offense that hasn't had trouble scoring, but they, too, have been platooning three quarterbacks. Sophomore starter Michael Brewer aggravated a back injury in fall camp, leaving the job open for freshmen Baker Mayfield and Davis Webb.

Mayfield started the first five games before suffering a knee injury. Webb made his debut Saturday, throwing for 415 yards, three touchdowns and an interception in Texas Tech's 42-35 victory against Iowa State.

Kingsbury hasn't named a starter for this game, either, but he said all three quarterbacks should be available.

Injury report

Holgorsen announced that sophomore nose tackle Christian Brown suffered "a weight-room injury" and will miss the remainder of the season. He will redshirt and return next fall with three years of eligibility remaining.

Wes Tonkery, a redshirt junior linebacker, is expected to miss six weeks with a broken thumb. Senior receiver Ivan McCartney (concussion) is listed as questionable, and sophomore cornerback Ricky Rumph (undisclosed) "is a stretch to play."

Redshirt sophomore linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski is healthy after missing three games with a hamstring injury.


Stephen J. Nesbitt: snesbitt@post-gazette.com, 412-290-2183 and Twitter @stephenjnesbitt. First Published October 15, 2013 8:00 PM


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