By Bob Hertzel
For the Times West Virginian
He didn’t throw an interception, drop a pass or miss a block, yet in the end, Dana Holgorsen says if you’re looking for someone to blame for the disaster that occurred over the weekend against Maryland in Baltimore, come looking for him.
“I’m not pointing the finger at anyone but myself,” the West Virginia coach said during Monday’s Big 12 coaches’ conference call in the wake of an embarrassing 37-0 defeat.
He understands that no one he put out there on the offensive side of the ball did anything to take him off the hook.
His redshirt freshman quarterback, Ford Childress, played like a redshirt freshman quarterback.
He completed but 11 of 22 passes, gaining just 62 yards. He played as if he were mad at his wide receivers, Ronald Carswell being the only one to make a catch, that for just 12 yards on a third-down play when 13 were needed.
He threw two more passes toward Carswell, one toward Kevin White and one toward Mario Alford.
Two of his passes were intercepted and he lost a fumble, but Holgorsen preferred not to hang his young quarterback out to dry.
“I see bigger issues,” he said. “There’s obviously some things that Ford can do to improve on his performance. The bigger issue is me. I have to do a better job of getting these guys prepared to play, of calling plays, of all three sides of the ball getting motivated. I didn’t do a very good job of that last week.”
It was the same with his wide receivers.
Surely Holgorsen could not accept that.
“It would be nice to get wide receivers the ball. That’s why they call them receivers, so they can catch a ball every now and then. We’re pretty inept at that,” he admitted.
But again, he was giving them a pass, at least in public, to let the blame fall on himself.
“That’s nothing on them. They’re working hard,” he said. “We got guys in position, guys that want to play. We’re just not clicking and that falls 100 percent on me.”
In truth, when you are the highest paid employee in the state, when you have taken over a football program that was riding so high three consecutive 9-4 seasons weren’t good enough to keep your job, a lot is expected of you, and 0-37 losses to Maryland are not among those expectations.
“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.
“You have to give Maryland some credit. I thing they are a really good team on defense. They gave us fits last year,” he continued. “With that said, I got to do a better job of coaching them. We have to get guys in position to execute what we’re asking them to do. That’s not happening very much.”
Just what is it Holgorsen believes he must do to change things? He is not about to make a quarterback change, saying Childress is his guy, and he is in a rebuilding phase at wide receiver, offensive line and running back, depending a great deal on junior college transfers, which normally brings either great rewards or heartaches ... and far too often the latter.
“We’re going to coach them harder this week. We’re going to get them prepared to play,” Holgorsen said. “I just got to do a better job. If I do a better job, the rest of the guys will do a better job as well.”
And just what is the goal with this team?
“I got to get these guys to where they are playing a little looser. I think they are playing a little uptight. You can’t go out there and be scared to make a mistake. If it exists with me and that’s what the majority of the team feels, then the finger comes pointing right back at me,” Holgorsen said.
How you get a team to loosen up after a debacle like that with the nation’s No. 11 team in Oklahoma State ahead is a difficult question to answer, but it’s why Holgorsen gets the big bucks.
NOTES: WVU is a 21-point underdog at home to Oklahoma State. They have not been that big a home dog in two decades, since Miami in 1994 ... Maryland had eight tackles for loss against WVU on Saturday ... West Virginia’s trip to Baylor on Oct. 5 will be shown on FoxSports TV at 7 p.m. ... This week’s game against Oklahoma State is at noon.
Follow Bob Hertzel on Twitter @bhertzel.