The Times West Virginian

Bob Herzel

September 10, 2013

HERTZEL COLUMN- Problem with WVU offense?

MORGANTOWN — Over the past decade-plus Dana Holgorsen, no matter whose head phones he put on while on the sidelines, has been in charge of one of the nation’s most sophisticated, inventive and prolific passing attacks.

He sent quarterbacks and wide receivers to the National Football League almost the way Pizza Hut sends pizzas to college dormitories. The latest, of course, were quarterback Geno Smith and receivers Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey, joining a list that included over the years such players as Wes Welker, Justin Blackmon, Graham Harrell, Case Keenum and Michael Crabtree.

As this season dawned he conducted a summer-long triangular competition at the quarterback spot between last year’s backup Paul Millard, last season’s redshirt freshman Ford Childress and a Florida State transfer with some experience in a different offense and roots in West Virginia, Clint Trickett.

Holgorsen decided upon Millard to open the season against William & Mary because he was advanced in this offense and its ways of communicating with the sideline, and stayed with him for a journey to Oklahoma.

“We settled on Paul because we felt like he gave us the best chance to win the opener and to travel and win at OU,” Holgorsen said during Monday’s Big 12 coaches conference call. “We told the other two guys at that point as well that they need to stay ready.”

Neither performance, however, gave Holgorsen the sense of security he wanted out of his passing game, Millard ranking 10th in passing efficiency in a conference where the overall quarterbacking has slipped considerably.

Millard was well aware of how far off his game was at Oklahoma, a game WVU had a chance to win had he played close to flawlessly.

“This one is going to be hard to swallow,” he said after the game. “We lose the game by nine points, but I know there were a lot of missed opportunities. There were throws where I had guys wide open and I just didn’t make the throw.”

Holgorsen spent a good bit of time analyzing film and the passing offense and admits it is nowhere near where he wants it to be.

“I don’t know when it’s going to happen to where I feel good about somebody and they take the bull by the horns and they lead the team to victory and they look good doing it,” Holgorsen said Monday. “Until that happens, we’re going to have to continue to rep all three.”

That not only gives Trickett a chance to earn a start — or at least playing time — against a really weak Georgia State team that comes in with a pair of losses to 1-AA teams including being clobbered by Chattanooga, but it also brings redshirt freshman Ford Childress back into the picture.

He had been relegated to holding the clipboard on the sidelines but Holgorsen knows he has to take a strong look at him also.

“We’ll shake things up on the offensive side of the ball when it pertains to our pass game,” Holgorsen said. “Not happy with that. We need to be way more efficient than we have been. I would anticipate some starting lineup changes with the receivers as well.”

Rest assured that Kevin White will move forward.

White missed the opener but came back and caught seven passes for 80 yards and showed he knows what to do with the ball once he gets his mitts on it.

In addition to revamping his receiving rotation, which is loaded with talented but inexperienced players, the coach has got to dig into his running game again.

Unhappy with junior college transfer Dreamius Smith’s blocking, he didn’t give him much playing time at Oklahoma, feeding him the ball just once after he gave him his only offense of the day, an impressive 76-yard touchdown run.

You got a back who can do that, you have to get him the ball, and for those who worry about him not blocking, the likes of Jim Brown, Gale Sayers, Barry Sanders and a thousand other top flight running backs had defenses keying on them and did pretty well.

The other part of the offense that Holgorsen has to find a way to incorporate more often is newcomer Charles Sims from Houston, who is a breakaway threat every time the ball is placed in his hands, be it handed there or via a pass.

oooooo

Next week’s Maryland game will be played at 3:30 p.m. and will be carried on one of the family of ESPN networks, not yet chosen. The choice of networks will be announced Sunday.

Email Bob Hertzel at bhertzel@hotmail.com or follow him on Twitter @bhertzel.

1
Text Only
Bob Herzel
  • Holgorsen’s program hits turning point

    You can almost sense, as you watch West Virginia University football coach Dana Holgorsen sit before the gathered Big 12 media contingent answering questions in the Omni Hotel in Arlington, Texas, that he senses his program has reached a turning point.

    July 23, 2014

  • Big 12 Media Days Foo_time(1).jpg Trickett’s play key factor for Mountaineers’ success

     In the end, it comes down to the quarterback.
    Always has with Dana Holgorsen, always will.
    Quarterback is the offense with the West Virginia University coach. When he does well, the team wins – almost always.
    When he does poorly, the team doesn’t stand much of a chance.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Saban, family happy at Alabama

    Alabama football coach Nick Saban, whose team opens the season against West Virginia in Atlanta on Aug. 30, denied receiving or turning down this offseason an offer of $100 million to coach Texas, indicating he planned to finish his career as coach of the Crimson Tide.

    July 18, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: ‘Quarterback child prodigy’ comes to WVU amidst very high expectations

    Has West Virginia football coach Dana Holgorsen finally put the arrow he needs in his quiver with the commitment received Wednesday from high school quarterback David Sills, who is a rather extraordinary story and may also just be a rather extraordinary quarterback?

    July 18, 2014

  • WVU kicker Molinari ‘All-American boy’

    West Virginia kicker Mike Molinari may not be an All-American but he is an All-American boy.
    He was honored for that on Wednesday when the Allstate Insurance Company and the American Football Coaches Association announced the West Virginia redshirt senior kicker/punter Michael Molinari is a nominee for the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team.

    July 16, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Smallwood puts future in jeopardy

    The last thing West Virginia’s struggling football program needed as twilight was setting on Bastille Day in Morgantown was to have one of its own whisked off to the North Central Regional Jail on a fugitive warrant from another state, especially a player who had figured to play a key role in the resurrection of a program gone bad.

    July 16, 2014

  • WVU player arrested in Delaware case

    West Virginia University running back Wendell Smallwood has been arrested by university police and is being held at North Central Regional Jail awaiting extradition on a felony warrant out of Delaware.

    July 15, 2014

  • WVU hoping to add two non-conference contests

    West Virginia is nearing the completion of deals to play football games against long-time rival Virginia Tech, now in the Atlantic Coast Conference, and Tennessee of the Southeastern Conference, according to a source close to the negotiations.
    An announcement is expected shortly.

    July 15, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: MLB All-Star game biggest celebration of top athletes

    You will pardon me if I find something else to do when the Pro Bowl rolls around, or if I try to find a “Three Stooges” marathon when it’s time for the NHL All-Star game. As for the NBA All-Star game, I’d rather watch a replay of a four-year-old Uruguay-Ethiopia World Cup soccer match in which I knew the outcome.
     

    July 14, 2014

  • Howes learns to ‘never settle’ as WVU administrator

    You probably don’t know much about Terri Howes, even though she is a rather high-ranking executive in the West Virginia University athletic department.
    “I like it that way,” she said, sitting in a large office at the Coliseum, decorated with pictures and memorabilia, a jar of candy sitting by the door for visitors to dip into.

    July 13, 2014

House Ads
Featured Ads