Is there a simple answer to Dana Holgorsen’s complex problems?
No, he made it certain on Monday that he’s not about to:
a.) change philosophies.
b.) change quarterbacks.
But it appears he does have to change emphasis, something he really has already begun to do.
A year ago he worked out of tempo, armed with an NFL quarterback in Geno Smith and a pair of NFL receivers in Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey.
Why not run tempo? The more plays you run, the more opportunities those players had a chance to do something special.
Now, though, it’s a redshirt freshman quarterback in Ford Childress learning his trade ... the hard way.
Maybe the approach should change? Maybe this should be a slow down, running team to eliminate the area where most of the mistakes are being made and to take advantage of what seems to be the most talent?
“The philosophy has remained the same for about 15 straight years, so I doubt that’s going to change any more than it has,” he said. “I mean, there’s always an evolution of what you are trying to get accomplished on offense. We have spent a lot of time on the run game and it’s not bad.
“It can always improve, but what’s wrong with the offense is we’re not executing the pass game like we should. I’ve been saying that since Day 1. It’s still a work in progress.”
That means the protection, the receivers, but most of all the quarterback.
Holgorsen started the season with holdover Paul Millard as his starter but didn’t like what he saw.
He bypassed the more experienced Clint Trickett, a transfer from Florida State, for Childress.
It’s a choice a coach has to make. He watches and decides which he believes fits best and he came up with Childress, who debuted with a decent performance against a terrible Georgia State team, then followed that up with a dismal performance against Maryland.
Despite that, Holgorsen says Childress is his guy.
“His mentality didn’t change on the sideline (against Maryland). It was good to see that. He’s a hard worker and he’s going to get out there and try to improve at his craft, which is distributing the ball as good as he possibly can, getting us in the right run sets and handling the right leadership role on the sideline, which I think will get better and better each and every game,” Holgorsen explained.
Don’t bother suggesting some kind of alternating quarterback situation for WVU. Holgorsen isn’t interested.
“I would think everyone would want an established guy at quarterback. That’s what everybody does,” he said. “People play different quarterbacks when everyone brings something different to the table. The three guys we have are all pocket guys. They are not option guys. Look at Oklahoma State. I’ve been following them closely.
“Mike Gundy knows a thing or two about quarterbacks in his own right and the guy brings a thing or two different to the table. What J.W. Walsh brings to the table is different than what Clint Chelf brings to the table.
“Last year when they played all three guys they had to because of injuries, which is unfortunate. This year they settled on J.W. and he’s a tremendous football player.”
What you might dare suggest, rather than revolving quarterbacks, is to turn to a power run game, to use Dreamius Smith as the featured back with Charles Sims as a tailback or something coming off the win with Wendell Smallwood behind Sims and Dustin Garrison as a change of pace.
Maybe even go to a tight end set with Cody Clay to help the blocking and to give you a third-down target to go with talented but unproven wide receivers.
Holgorsen has already begun leaning in this direction and it may not bear the fingerprint he wants his offense to ultimately have, but it may give him the best chance to win in a conference that doesn’t see a whole lot of this style of football.
Follow Bob Hertzel on Twitter @bhertzel.
Is there a simple answer to Dana Holgorsen’s complex problems?
- Bob Herzel
HERTZEL COLUMN: NCAA football is thriving in the digital age
The other day Baylor football coach Art Briles walked into his graduate assistants’ office and had to laugh at what he saw.
“There’s five guys sitting in there — a couple of GA’s and some office personnel — and they all are within a foot and a half of each other and not a one of them is talking to each other,” Briles said, describing the scene “Every one of them is on the phone.”
O’Brien leads WVU baseball past Marshall
Catcher Cam O’Brien made a bid at becoming only the second West Virginia University player to hit for the cycle as the Mountaineers jumped on Marshall early and routed their in-state rival, 10-3, behind strong pitching from Corey Walter and a pair of relievers.
HERTZEL COLUMN- WVU faithful again have a reason to root against Vick
It would be one final indignation, that’s what it would be if Michael Vick were to beat out Geno Smith and win the starting quarterback job with the New York Jets.
HERTZEL COLUMN- Luck open to WVU fans’ suggestions
West Virginia’s fans have spoken, perhaps not verbally but nonetheless have had their voices heard, over the past few years as attendance has fallen at the Mountaineers’ football and basketball games.
Mountaineers ready for slate of rivalry games
Looking to put together a late-season run to get into the NCAA championships, West Virginia faces a pair of midweek rivalry games in a crucial five-game week coming off winning two of three games at Oklahoma.
HERTZEL COLUMN- Summer, Alabama will be used to get WVU’s mind right
The ink had barely dried on the final reports out of West Virginia’s spring practice when thoughts turned forward toward the lazy, hazy days of late summer, days that will bring us into football season with a game that can either change the entire image of WVU football or sour it even further.
HERTZEL COLUMN: Watson tees off a new century at The Greenbrier
You knew this was going to be one of those unpredictable, memorable days when you drove into the Greenbrier Resort and headed to the Old White Golf Course and found the best parking place in the joint.
As Bob Uecker would say, right there in the front rooooow.
HERTZEL COLUMN: Under pressure, NCAA decides to change rules
At first glance, it appears that they do not go hand-in-hand, a pair of rules changes the NCAA’s Legislative Council approved this week, sending them off for what seems to be smooth sailing toward becoming rules.
HERTZEL COLUMN: WVU gymnast hopes to stick her final landing
The reaction, one suspects, was the same as most people who see either a picture of West Virginia University gymnast Hope Sloanhoffer or meet her for the first time in person — a quick double take, maybe even stumbling over the first few words of an introduction.
Bussie looks forward to WNBA
On Tuesday, the weather turned cold, the wind blew and amongst the raindrops that fell a few snowflakes fluttered quietly to Earth.
It was as if it was a celebration of Asya Bussie being drafted on Monday night by the Minnesota Lynx, champions of the WNBA, with the third selection of the second round, the 15th overall pick of the draft.
- More Bob Herzel Headlines
- HERTZEL COLUMN: NCAA football is thriving in the digital age