Football, Sports, WVU Sports

Mountaineers trying to turn the page on loss to Houston

MORGANTOWN — West Virginia receiver Devin Carter only gives himself 24 hours to dwell on a game.

“I always give myself a 24-hour rule,” the senior said Monday. “So win or lose, 24 hours afterward I drop it.” 

That’s a good rule to have this week as the Mountaineers (4-2, 2-1 Big 12) are trying to turn the page on its stunning loss to Houston last Thursday on a last-second Hail Mary.

“By Saturday I was good,” Carter said. “As a team, we’ve probably put it behind us, but we’ll see at practice.”

Because the game was played Thursday, the Mountaineers had a couple more days than usual to process the game before moving on to their next opponent, Oklahoma State (3:30 p.m./ESPN).

“(Monday) we reviewed the game with the coaches, so it’s like the last hour of the 24-hour rule,” defensive lineman Edward Vesterinen said. “We’ve just got to focus on Oklahoma State, you’ve got to forget about Houston right now because we can’t do anything about it.”

Several WVU players have described this week as crucial for the team moving forward this season.

“I think we have a great opportunity now to show how we can bounce back from a loss,” Vesterinen said. “We cannot let this loss define us and our season. We need to be mentally tough and play as hard as we can in this next game.”

It wasn’t just that WVU lost on a Hail Mary, it was how the game got to that point in the first place that hurt the most. The Mountaineers battled back from an 11-point deficit in the fourth quarter and tied the game on a 50-yard touchdown on fourth down with just 12 seconds to play.

“When you lose in that fashion, it matters,” head coach Neal Brown said. “The first thing is there’s a little bit of a grieving process you go through. Once you go through the grieving process, then you’ve got to take ownership for what’s ours.”

Brown said he’s emphasized that WVU did not lose the game just on the final play. He said the team went through the tape Monday morning and identified every point in the game that contributed to the loss.

“We went through the ownership (Monday) and now we’re going to go through the response,” Brown said. “You can’t control what happens all the time, but you can control your response. Our response is we better fight.”

Oklahoma State (4-2, 2-1) went through something similar earlier this season with a 33-7 home loss to South Alabama. 

“I would assume that Coach (Mike) Gundy and that crew went through a similar process after that loss,” Brown said. “They’ve come out pretty good on the other side. Now it’s up to our guys — we’ve got to go through it.”

The Cowboys have won two games in a row against Kansas State (29-21) and Kansas (39-32) at home. West Virginia can’t allow there to be any hangover from the Houston loss if it is going to beat Oklahoma State.

“It’s next play, that’s the mentality,” Vesterinen said. “You mess up, you’ve got to do well on the next play. You can’t let the past affect your next play.”

“Losing that way, you don’t see it very often and nobody really expected it,” Carter added. “It can either make you or break you and we know we just have to come back stronger this week.”

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