The Times West Virginian

Breaking News

Sports

September 14, 2011

Slow starts common so far for WVU

MORGANTOWN — If football were a fable, West Virginia would be the tortoise to its opponents’ hare.

Wanting to be a high-powered team that is building confidence in its new offense, the Mountaineers instead have so far been left at the gate and Coach Dana Holgorsen is well aware of the problem.

“We haven’t started well offensively in two weeks,” he said. “I don’t know what the numbers are, but we are getting slaughtered.”

It really isn’t anything he hasn’t experienced before. Two years ago, at Houston, when he was offensive coordinator, the Cougars were outscored in the first quarter, 109-98.

It might be best for all concerned for him to get it corrected this week, for WVU ventures on the road for the first time and goes into a hostile environment against a regional rival in Maryland. Taking the crowd out of it early would be considered important, especially considering the way this season has begun.

The offense was stagnant in the first quarter against Marshall and Norfolk State, being outscored by 10-3 in the two games. The defense’s ability to keep the opponents out of the end zone (the TD was on an 87-yard punt return by Marshall’s Andre Booker, not against the defense) has kept the Mountaineers close while the offense regrouped.

WVU did outgain Marshall 90 yards to 50 in the first quarter, but Holgorsen admitted that what went on against Norfolk in the first quarter of their game was “embarrassing,” Norfolk gaining first-quarter yards to 19 for the Mountaineers.

In two games WVU managed only 109 first-quarter yards, 54.5 per game, while giving up 229 yards.

“We weren’t ready to play in the first half,” Holgorsen admitted during Monday’s Big East Conference call. “You can come up with a lot of excuses ... not respecting the opponent, coming off an emotion game against an in-state rival, and a short week of practice probably had something to do with it.”

But that doesn’t forgive it and it forced WVU into situations where it could not dictate the tempo or flow of the game, which is crucial to the Holgorsen offense.

There are a number of factors involved in what’s going on. To begin with, you have the success Holgorsen’s offense has had and people adjust, try something new to stop it.

“It’s a bit of guesswork and rolling the dice on their part,” Holgorsen said of defenses trying things that go against their tendencies.

“You watch a bunch of film, and you develop tendencies of the defense to try to figure out what they’re going to do. You call plays based on what you think they’re going to do,” he continued. “Sometimes you start a play, and they hit it right in the teeth. It’s discouraging as a coach when it’s a tendency they didn’t previously show. You have to know that people are going to change tendencies. We need to be more alert on the sidelines between plays and between series to figure it all out.”

That is one of the reasons Holgorsen doesn’t script the game’s first 15 or 20 plays the way some coaches do.

“You can’t come up with 25 plays and run them consecutively and expect to find success. You have to figure out what they’re doing on both sides of the ball,” he said.

Just as an aside, last year’s team, which was so heavily criticized about its offense, outscored opponents 114-41 in the first quarter of games.

“We talk about coming out faster,” Holgorsen said. “You never know what they’re going to do anyway. I’ve been in charge of offenses that we start really fast, and then we’ll start really slow. If I had a magic formula, we’d always start fast.”

Text Only
Sports
  • University hands Huskies first loss; East edges Elkins

    The mercy rule has been a familiar part of North Marion’s softball season.
    Through the first seven games, the Huskies regularly pounded their opponents with stingy defense, sharp pitching and timely hitting. Rarely did a game go all seven innings for the previously undefeated team.

    April 17, 2014

  • Huggins signs junior college guard

    Coach Bob Huggins completed his 2014-15 West Virginia University recruiting class on Wednesday and deemed it a success after receiving a signed letter of intent from junior college guard Tarik Phillip.
    Phillip joins Jevon Carter of Maywood, Ill., and Daxter Miles of Baltimore’s Dunbar High and out of Notre Dame Prep in Massachusetts in the 2014-15 recruiting class.

    April 17, 2014

  • 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.

    April 17, 2014

  • Pirates shut out by Reds’ Cueto, 4-0

    Johnny Cueto was on his game, and the only thing that the Pirates could do was watch.
    Cueto pitched his third career shutout against the team that beat him in the NL wild card game, and Joey Votto hit a two-run homer that led the Cincinnati Reds over the Pirates 4-0 Wednesday for their first winning series this season.

    April 17, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN: Comparing pay of coaches and professors

    Stringing together some odds and ends which may be of interest to you:
    • A beautiful lady came up to my table last Sunday at brunch in the Village of Heritage Point’s main dining room with a message.

    April 17, 2014

  • COLUMN: Extend summer practices without over-extending athletes

    Last week we told you about a proposal that would extend the summer practice period for West Virginia high schools.
    It’s already cleared the West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission Board of Control. Now it’s up to the West Virginia Board of Education to decide if the current three-week window should be expanded by five weeks.

    April 16, 2014

  • 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.

    April 16, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Jackie Robinson’s impact extends beyond baseball

    It is Jackie Robinson Day as I sit here writing this today, and I feel as though I am doing it in a world gone mad.
    Every player in Major League Baseball wore No. 42 on Tuesday in honor of Jackie Robinson, the man who took racism’s best shot and integrated the game that was known then as the National Pastime even though it was as white a Ku Klux Klan robe.

    April 16, 2014

  • Pirates finish off suspended game, fall in nightcap

    Mike Leake doubled and hit a two-run homer Tuesday night, ending Gerrit Cole’s winning streak and leading the Cincinnati Reds to a 7-5 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates that completed two days full of homers and delays.

    April 16, 2014

  • WVU’s Harlee named Big 12 Scholar-Athlete

    The Big 12 Conference announced its Scholar-Athlete of the Year recipients for the 2014 winter sport season, and West Virginia University senior Jess Harlee earns the honor for women’s basketball.
    Harlee was selected as the award winner based on a vote of each respective sport’s head coaching group, with coaches not permitted to vote for their own student-athletes.

    April 16, 2014

Featured Ads
NDN Sports
House Ads
NCAA Breaking News
NCAA Photos