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Underdog Mountaineers taking delight in profitable ugly

MORGANTOWN — No one would declare the 2023 West Virginia Mountaineers are a fairly soccer staff. They’re, nevertheless, a profitable staff a 3rd of the way in which via the season.

The three-1 Mountaineers haven’t performed aesthetically pleasing soccer, however they’ve discovered methods to win via an damage to their beginning quarterback, two season-ending accidents within the secondary, an prolonged climate delay of their house opener and extra.

“Up to now, we’ve carried out a great job of discovering a method to not win these video games,” offensive coordinator Chad Scott mentioned Monday. “I all the time take a look at it pretty much as good groups come collectively at instances once you get video games like this the place they’re not all the time fairly, however you discover a strategy to come out on prime. Up to now, we’ve carried out too good of a job discovering methods to not come out on prime in these video games.”

Final week’s 20-13 win over Texas Tech was the proper instance of WVU’s resilience this season. The Pink Raiders outgained the Mountaineers 321-256, WVU solely threw for 99 yards and Texas Tech gained the turnover battle 2-0. And but, WVU nonetheless got here out on prime.

“The final two video games I believe you may name them ugly,” heart Zach Frazier mentioned. “I believe it’s form of lovely from an offensive lineman’s perspective. Operating the ball and controlling the sport, I like that. A win’s a win, regardless of the way it occurs.”

And wins are one thing WVU desperately wants, particularly after the Mountaineers had been picked to complete useless final within the Large 12’s preseason ballot.

“We’re fueled off being picked 14th within the convention,’ linebacker Lee Kpogba mentioned. “There’s no larger underdog than that, they picked us to complete final.” 

This week’s sport in opposition to 3-1 TCU (8 p.m./ESPN2) presents a transparent step up in competitors from WVU’s final two opponents.

“We all know within the Large 12 there’s not that a lot of a distinction from the highest to the underside of the convention,” Kpogba mentioned. “Each week we’re ready for a canine battle and that’s what we go on the market able to do.”

WVU has additionally opened all three of its video games in opposition to FBS opponents this season because the underdog. The Mountaineers had been ultimately favored of their matchup in opposition to Pitt, however they had been the underdogs when betting opened at first of the week.

“That’s an enormous motivation,” Frazier mentioned. “I view it as a great factor. I all the time love when somebody tells me I can’t do one thing, that simply makes me need to show them incorrect. Choosing us 14th, that’s the most important quantity of motivation you may get. Choosing us final, you possibly can’t get any worse than that. It wasn’t thirteenth, it wasn’t twelfth, it was 14th.”

WVU is once more the underdog this week as TCU is at present a 12.5-point favourite to win on Saturday.

“I’d moderately them picked us because the underdogs,” Frazier mentioned. “I believe we must always maintain that going and use that as motivation. I personally prefer it.”

Kpogba mentioned the underdog standing and chip on their shoulders comes from the way in which they performed final season when WVU completed 5-7 with no bowl sport. Even gamers who weren’t on the staff final yr have adopted the mindset that they’re going to show everybody incorrect.

“When you could have that cohesive bond, my brother’s wrestle is my wrestle as nicely,” mentioned bandit linebacker Tyrin Bradley, who transferred in from Abilene Christian this summer time. “These guys had been picked 14th, so I used to be picked 14th as nicely. They picked us final and it doesn’t matter what, they introduced me in to assist them out, so I’m part of it.”

The Mountaineers’ strong begin has modified the notion of this system a bit for the reason that begin of the yr. ESPN’s inside projections favor WVU in 4 of their remaining eight video games. However even when the tides totally flip and the Mountaineers cease being seen as underdogs, being picked 14th will proceed to gas them.

“We’ve obtained that chip on our shoulder each time we exit on that area,” Kpogba mentioned. “We’re not forgetting the place they picked us to complete. We simply put our heads down and work and we need to show all people incorrect.”