AD: WVU 'must get better,' coach's job safe

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 3, 2013 at 1:22 pm •  Published: December 3, 2013

"Why can't we close games? It comes down to execution and a burning desire to win. You need a collection of guys not wanting to let each other down and coaches not wanting to let the players down. Obviously, we don't have that right now."

One of the season's few highlights was a 30-21 win over Oklahoma State on Sept. 28, the sixth-ranked Cowboys' only loss.

The defense was the worst in the Big 12 in passing yards and touchdown passes allowed and had the second-fewest sacks in the league.

The Mountaineers must mold the 2014 defense around three of their top four tacklers: linebackers Nick Kwiatkoski and Jared Barber and safety Karl Joseph. Two of the lost starters on defensive are linemen Will Clarke and Shaq Rowell.

On offense, West Virginia's 316 points scored were nearly 200 less than last season and were the team's fewest since 2008. The Mountaineers were outscored in every quarter except the fourth, when they held a 105-103 edge.

Three quarterbacks who all got starts this season will return, but combined they threw as many interceptions (16) as touchdowns.

Florida State transfer Clint Trickett arrived on campus in May, started seven games and now has an entire offseason to learn the playbook. Holgorsen liked what little he saw from redshirt freshman Ford Childress, who missed the final eight games recovering from a torn chest muscle.

The search will be on to fill the shoes of Charles Sims, who in his only season became the team's first 1,000-yard rusher since 2009. His 45 pass receptions tied Daikiel Shorts for the team lead.

With Sims off to the NFL draft, possible replacements include second-leading rusher Dreamius Smith (494 yards) and freshman Wendell Smallwood (221). West Virginia also loses three starting offensive linemen.

Holgorsen and his staff also will need to identify some return specialists. West Virginia averaged a league-low 3 yards on punt returns and 18.6 yards on kickoff returns this season.

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