MORGANTOWN - Dana Holgorsen knew things would get tougher for his West Virginia University football players when they made their debut run through the Big 12 Conference gamut, but he said things get even tougher when everybody isn't on the same page.
''We have to play together,'' he said. ''From a call standpoint, we're playing with nine or 10 a lot, and we're playing with nine or 10 from an effort standpoint. If you have eight or nine that are playing with tremendous effort and one or two who aren't, then you're playing with eight or nine.''
Offensive lineman Jeff Braun said that was glaring as the players watched the film from last weekend's double overtime loss to Texas Christian.
''You can have four guys blocking their butts off and trying to finish the job, but then one guy doesn't do it,'' Braun said. ''That can ruin the play. That is the biggest difference in college football. You need to have all five offensive linemen working as a cohesive unit. If not, then you aren't going to get anywhere.''
WVU will try to regain that mentality and effort that allowed it to open the season with five straight victories. But in the past month, the Mountaineers have dropped three straight for the first time since 2004 and have fallen from being ranked No. 4 in the nation to being completely out of the polls. WVU (5-3 overall, 2-3 Big 12) has not lost four straight games since 2001 when it finished 3-8 under first-year coach Rich Rodriguez.
"We just have to keep getting better in practice," linebacker Isaiah Bruce said. "We need to keep going over the little things in practice and make sure we are doing our jobs."
The Mountaineers take on Oklahoma State (5-3, 3-2) at 3:30 p.m. Saturday in a game that will be televised by ABC. The Cowboys are coming off a loss to Kansas State last week, and they have also experienced their ups and downs this fall.
''Good teams aren't going to make mistakes,'' OSU fullback Kye Staley said. ''Once we stop making mistakes, we will be a much better team. You can't blame anyone for turnovers, because every offensive play involves every single man on the offense. The only thing we can do is work hard and go out there and execute plays.''
Holgorsen said the Mountaineers need to get back to the way they were prior to playing Kansas State.
''We're a group that is not very happy right now,'' he said. ''The last three (games) have been pretty tough with what we've faced. The next four weeks are going to be pretty tough. It's a pretty determined group out there.''