The Times West Virginian

Sports

September 11, 2013

Holgorsen shakes up stagnant offense

MORGANTOWN — Dana Holgorsen admits it.

He’s embarrassed by what he’s seen of his offense to date, one touchdown against Oklahoma.

“I think we are closer on offense, but I accept full responsibility for seven points,” he said, referring to Saturday night’s 16-7 road defeat. “I don’t care who we are playing. It’s embarrassing. I’ve got the utmost respect for Bob and Mike Stoops, but that being said, seven points is embarrassing, and we need to fix it. We need to do a better job of putting guys into a position to make plays.”

Losing to Oklahoma in Norman is not anything to embarrass you about. The Sooners have lost only five games at home in Stoops’ 15 years as a coach.

But a year ago, in losing to the Sooners in Milan Puskar Stadium, Holgorsen found a way to penetrate the Oklahoma goal line seven times in dropping that 50-49 decision.

Of course, for that game he moved Tavon Austin to running back and caught the Sooners unaware while also having Stedman Bailey to catch passes from Geno Smith.

This time there was no Austin, no Smith, no Bailey.

That was an offense unlike any WVU had ever had, complete with a senior-dominated offensive line. During Holgorsen’s first two years the Mountaineers completely rewrote their offensive record book.

That is why what he would say next, after expressing his embarrassment and taking blame sank in, was far more stunning a statement.

“We have the potential to be better than we were last year,” he said. “Does that mean we are better than last year or are going to be better than last year? No. It just means we have the potential to be.”

Somehow, he saw a great deal of hope for the offense he has gathered, even though it has shown very little to date.

“There’s potential on offense, and that word disturbs me,” Holgorsen said. “I don’t like it very much, but there is potential on offense. A lot of people talk about how talented we are. Even guys on our team talk about how talented we are.”

Talk, though, is just that.

“We need to prove that. We need to make some plays,” Holgorsen stated. “You need to make plays when you are put into those situations, and if you don’t, we will try and put some other guys in those situations.”

This week no one’s job is really safe. Holgorsen plans to rep all three of his quarterbacks after having played Paul Millard for the entire Oklahoma game but not getting a great amount of production out of him.

Florida State transfer Clint Trickett and redshirt freshman Ford Childress will also get a good look.

“We will see how their attitudes are. Meeting is at 2:30, and we will see how they are in warm-ups. We can’t put two of them out there at once so someone’s name has to be called, they’ll have to go out, and we will see how they do. The difference with where we are at now is that Ford (Childress) will have reps, and he hasn’t had reps in the past three weeks,” Holgorsen noted.

And he’s also shaking up the receivers in an effort to get more oomph out of a position that a year ago sent two players to the draft, each with more than 100 catches.

Benefiting from the shakeup will be Ronnie Carswell, who caught a 69-yard touchdown against William & Mary, and Kevin White, who caught seven passes for 80 yards against Oklahoma.

“They have potential,” Holgorsen said. “After watching William & Mary, I was convinced that we had the slowest receiving corps in the country. When we put Ronnie (Ronald Carswell) in there it looked different. We didn’t have Kevin (White) services throughout camp. He was having a great spring, and having a great camp, and then he’s out for three weeks.

“He showed a little of what he can do last week. He looked like he was playing at a different level than some of the other guys out there. Mario (Alford), we just have to keep giving reps. We didn’t have him for three weeks of practice. When we put him in there, he runs at a different speed.

“With those three guys, I’m starting them, because I hope they can make plays. I’ve seen them make plays. If those other guys want to rep, they need to prove that they can make a play and provide a tremendous amount of effort.”

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

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