The Times West Virginian

WVU Sports

July 29, 2012

WVU offense set to take flight

Holgorsen expects even more in year 2

MORGANTOWN — Before this week is over, West Virginia University’s football team will be going from its iPads to its football pads as preseason camp opens, and it does so with a glow of confidence in a Mountaineer offense that could be setting upon a record-shattering season.

Certainly, coach Dana Holgorsen won’t back away from it when someone asks if this year’s offense should be an improvement on last year’s, an offense that shattered any number of school passing records and capped the season by rewriting the NCAA bowl offensive record book in a 10-touchdown, 70-33 Orange Bowl victory over Clemson.

“It should be better,” Holgorsen said at the Big 12 media day. “Everything is better the second year. It was evident last year with Brandon (Weeden) at Oklahoma State. His Year 2 was more comfortable. It was very evident at Houston going from our first year to second year with Case (Keenum).”

Holgorsen went from Texas Tech to Houston in 2008, and his first year there Keenum threw for 5,020 yards and 44 touchdowns while the next year it was up to 5,671 yards and 44 touchdowns and the team going from No. 2 in total offense and passing in the nation to No. 1 the next year.

It was little different with Weeden. Holgorsen put in his offense in 2010 and Weeden passed for 4,277 yards, but in 2011 he passed for 4,737 yards, almost 500 more.

In truth, this is a natural progression, even though the defenses should be a bit better in figuring out ways to stop Holgorsen’s passing game from year to year, experimenting and trying different approaches, be it via gambling blitzes or standing one’s ground and trying not to give up anything deep.

As the quarterback becomes more adept in the offense and more experienced, however, he can read the defenses better and, more importantly, faster. Things become more instinctual rather than having to think while running plays for most of the first year.

“You can see Geno with a bit more confidence,” Holgorsen said of his quarterback Geno Smith. “It makes more sense to him. There should be improvement. If there’s not, we’re not doing a good job as coaches.”

Holgorsen’s offense is all about reading ... the quarterback and the receivers read the defense, then the quarterback reads the receiver. It comes to a point where the quarterback knows what the receiver is going to do almost before the receiver himself knows, which puts the defense at a terrible disadvantage.

The truth of the matter is, the onslaught in the Clemson game may have had less to do with the Tigers’ inability to defend the offense as it had to do with the natural maturation that took place with the month off and the 15 days the Mountaineers had to prepare for the game.

“In all my years for 12 straight bowl games, all my years of December practice time, I think we got better in the month of December last year more than we ever have,” Holgorsen admitted. “Geno progressed, and he’s got a chance to be pretty good. He stacks up with a lot of the other guys I’ve had in the past.”

All of that bodes well for this year, especially with nine starters coming back. That means the same advancement that Smith has made, his skill players have also made.

That allows the coaching staff to add even more intricate wrinkles to the offense, things that will give a defense that is trying to catch up something else to think about long before they have mastered what already has been presented to them.

Holgorsen is quick to point out how important those other players are in taking heat off Smith.

“I don’t want to put a bunch of pressure on Geno,” Holgorsen said. “We’re not going to win a bunch of games with Geno and Geno alone. It’s (the offense) not only familiar for Geno; I feel good about having nine starters back and 20 guys that have played ball.”

In fact, if running back Dustin Garrison can come all the way back from knee surgery, giving Holgorsen a two-headed monster at that position with Shawne Alston, then offense has yet another dimension.

And the truth of the matter is that Smith won’t be judged on how many yards he passes for, but instead on the team’s success.

“Ultimately it’s how many games you win and him going into his senior year, he’s going to be remembered for how many games he wins,” Holgorsen said.

Smith, of course, has already explained that he expects great improvement in the second year under Holgorsen, saying the team is capable of scoring 50 points any time it walks onto the field.

Email Bob Hertzel at Follow on Twitter @bhertzel.

Text Only
WVU Sports
  • 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.

    April 18, 2014

  • Means, WVU baseball shut out Oklahoma

    Junior left-hander John Means of the WVU baseball team threw eight shutout innings and the Mountaineers had a five-run first inning en route to a 7-0 victory over Oklahoma on Thursday evening at L. Dale Mitchell Park.
    The Mountaineers (18-15, 3-6 Big 12) broke a six-game Big 12 losing streak after being swept by TCU and Oklahoma State in back-to-back weekends. WVU had 16 hits and did not make an error for the second-straight game.

    April 18, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN: Dr. Graber disagrees with Gee’s stance on Turnbull firing

    Dr. Stephen Graber, an associate professor at the West Virginia University School of Medicine, is among the latest WVU teachers to deplore Oliver Luck’s firing of veteran wrestling coach Craig Turnbull.
    He raised some significant questions about that issue last Monday in a meeting of the WVU Faculty Senate.

    April 18, 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • Gyorko, Padres agree to extension

    Jedd Gyorko, who hasn’t hit much of anything with a .178 start on this season, hit the jackpot on Monday, signing a six-year contract extension with the San Diego Padres for $35 million with a one-year club option at $13 million.

    April 15, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN- Spring game showed defense has improved

    From Dana Holgorsen’s viewpoint, which was standing right behind the offense, West Virginia’s Gold-Blue Spring Game on Saturday was a rousing success for it showed very little of what the Mountaineers will be in this coming season, probably not even showcasing the man who will direct the offense in the quarterback position.

    April 15, 2014

Featured Ads
WVU Sports Highlights
NDN Sports
House Ads
NCAA Breaking News
NCAA Photos