Holgorsen still has faith in WVU offense
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — As a new week dawned on West Virginia football, one with the sun shining brightly but with a heavy gray atmosphere within the Puskar Center headquarters, it was business as unusual.
Nothing seemed right.
The team was a three-touchdown underdog to No. 11 Oklahoma State in its upcoming home game, something it hadn’t been since Miami in 1994. The team was coming off a shutout loss, something it hadn’t done since losing 35-0 to Virginia Tech in 2001. The team was coming off a 37-0 loss, its worst since a 39-0 defeat to Penn State in 1975.
It was such a devastating loss, dropping WVU to 2-2 and leaving the Mountaineers wondering if another victory awaited them this season, that coach Dana Holgorsen was contrite in his manner, heaping all of the blame upon himself.
“There’s plenty of blame to go around,” Holgorsen said. “The one that can be blamed more than anyone is me. That’s for danged sure. That’s not an acceptable performance.”
The thumping was so complete — at least on offense — that it literally sent Holgorsen back to the drawing board.
No, he wasn’t going to change quarterbacks, even though his redshirt freshman choice to run the team, Ford Childress, completed but 11 of 22 passes for a paltry 62 yards. Nine of the 11 completions were to running backs.
Childress had one more interception (2) than completions to a wide receiver — one pick run in for a touchdown, the second on his own 6 to set up another.
And the running game wasn’t much better, save for a couple of late breakaways long after the issue had gone to press.
“It’s 100 percent on me,” Holgorsen said. “Obviously, what I’m doing offensively is not working.”
The thing is, he believes West Virginia is closer than it looks to being a good offense.
“I’ve watched that film probably eight times since we got back Saturday night and there’s some things that resemble football,” Holgorsen said. “I know that’s hard to believe, but there is. Our guys are trying. We have quality running backs. We have experience on the offensive line.
“We have receivers who can run and catch, although I thought about changing their title on the depth chart to blockers, because that’s what we’re asking them to do so much.
“We have guys who can do it and they’re trying. If we can get just a little bit better and they can gain some confidence, then maybe it will steamroll and we can start scoring some points and win some games.”
Holgorsen knows what must be corrected immediately if there is to be improvement against Oklahoma State.
“I have to tell them to relax,” he said. “It’s a good point because what I saw was when a couple of things happened early in the football game, everyone kind of got all wide-eyed and said ‘Oh, crap!’ and that can’t happen. You can’t play like that.
“It’s 100 percent coaching. I can’t allow that to happen. I can’t have guys who are scared to make a mistake. That’s not existing on defense, but offensively I think that’s happening a little bit.”
And the result is mistake after mistake that has stagnated what once was one of college football’s most dynamic offenses.
Bob Hertzel is a freelance writer.