In each of its last two games, West Virginia University has scored 14 points.
Not in a quarter. In the whole game.
It has been somewhat out of the character that the Mountaineers established in the dying days of last season, when they went out and put 70 points on Clemson in winning the Orange Bowl, and carried over into the first five games of this 2012 regular season when the only thing that stopped the offense was the playing of “Country Roads.”
There can be any of a thousand theories as to why the offense disappeared, but the one thing you will not find is the Mountaineers making drastic changes to their offense or, for that matter, their badly overmatched defense.
Coach Dana Holgorsen so much as said so during a somewhat baffling press conference on Tuesday.
“Seeing as how we decided not to switch back to the 3-3-stack and we decided not to go to a 4-2-5; we decided not to start running the option and we decided not to go just 100 percent empty, just because we had a little success with it against Baylor, then we probably didn’t change much (during the off week),” said a sarcastic Holgorsen.
And offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson followed suit in his assessment of the offense later Tuesday evening.
“We just have to stay the course,” said Dawson as he began the week’s preparation for Saturday’s 3 p.m. meeting with TCU at Milan Puskar Stadium.
Why did the flood of points suddenly dry up?
Dawson doesn’t know for sure, but he has some thoughts.
“It is what it is. In my opinion, we played two pretty good defensive teams. Now we didn’t play well offensively. To play well against those teams you have to go out and execute. We didn’t do that, so to me it was a combination of them playing well and us playing poorly.”
Certainly, Texas Tech and Kansas State are two of the better defensive outfits in the Big 12, along with Oklahoma State and Oklahoma, each of whom still lies ahead for the Mountaineers. That being said, though, they are hardly the Monsters of the Midway or the Purple People Eaters, either.
In fact, this TCU team that limps into Saturday’s meeting with two consecutive losses does so having scored 53 points in triple overtime against the same Texas Tech Red Raiders that held WVU to 14 points.
Dawson and the WVU coaches seem to be of the belief that things are never as bad as they seem, although when things were good they gave no indication that they believe the reverse is true, as in the saying that indicates when things are going good they never are as good as they seem.
To Dawson, WVU isn’t as far off of its game as 14 points and 143 passing yards from quarterback Geno Smith against Kansas State would indicate.
“When we watch film with them, we were this close to executing huge plays every game,” he said, holding his thumb and index finger narrowly apart. “Why did we execute them in the first five games and not in these games? I don’t know the answer to that. The only answer in my mind is to just keep doing what we’re doing and get better at it.”
The real fix may even be in finding some way to get a quick start.
After not having trailed in a game for 229 minutes and 13 seconds earlier in the season, WVU now has not led in 120 minutes.
“Starting fast is key for our offense right now,” Dawson admitted, and used it to point out just how small the difference is between good plays and bad plays.
“The difference between starting fast and not starting fast for our team in the past couple of games has been very marginal,” he continued. “We threw a laser behind (running back Andrew) Buie and there were zero people between him and the goal. We execute that, then you get some momentum.”
And as anyone has seen, this offense of Holgorsen seems to be one that feeds off itself, builds momentum as it goes along. Just as easily, though, it can be mired in a sea of mud if it doesn’t get untracked as it showed in a number of games last season, as well as at present.
“Those plays, where we have an opportunity to create big plays, are slightly off. We just have to keep pinpointing that and get kids in the right plays, then be more efficient,” Dawson said.
Quarterback Geno Smith puts it this way:
“Great teams, champions, do a great job maintaining things when the momentum isn’t on their side. When things aren’t going their way, they find ways to fight through that. Every game is not going to be as simple as you want it to be, even when everything is in your favor and guys are making the incredible one-handed catches we had in the past and we have great blocking all around and the backs hit those big holes. Everyone has an off day.”
Email Bob Hertzel at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @bhertzel.
In each of its last two games, West Virginia University has scored 14 points.
- WVU Sports
HERTZEL COLUMN: Huggins just wants WVU to compete
In the end, with Bob Huggins, they count victories and losses, and he has always been one to pile up the victories while keeping the losses to a minimum, at least until the last two seasons at West Virginia University.
And, in the end, when he tries to analyze why the losses have come rather than the victories, he comes to understand that he just doesn’t have the manpower to compete.
Carey, Bussie headline Big 12 awards
To the victors go the spoils, and West Virginia University’s newly crowned Big 12 women’s basketball regular-season co-champions certainly took down their share of the conference’s post-season awards, headed by coach Mike Carey and senior center Asya Bussie.
FURFARI COLUMN: Women’s finale fitting as all-time Coliseum great
If you weren’t among the thrilled, extremely vocal 5,502 fans at the WVU Coliseum last Tuesday night, you missed one of the most memorable sports events in that 44-year-old arena’s history.
The No. 7 nationally ranked West Virginia University women’s basketball team’s capture of the Big 12 Conference regular-season co-championship beating Kansas 67-60 on Senior Night was followed by a wild, wonderful celebration.
Carey named Big 12 Coach of the Year
In only his second season in the Big 12 Conference, West Virginia University women’s basketball coach Mike Carey has been named the Big 12 Coach of the Year.
Oklahoma pulls away from WVU, 72-62
Reality hit West Virginia University in the gut Wednesday as No. 23 Oklahoma showed the Mountaineers almost every reason why they are not an NCAA Tournament team this year, pulling away in the second half to a 72-62 victory in Norman.
HERTZEL COLUMN: Lady Mountaineers will always remember their senior season
Taylor Palmer was following a much-traveled path when she packed up her gym shoes four years ago and left Mount Vernon, N.Y., for Morgantown to play basketball.
Lowes Moore and Kevin Jones had both done the same thing and become two of the greatest players West Virginia University had ever produced, each not only playing the game the way it should be played but living life the way it should be lived.
Bradley to give everyone a chance
A day after snubbing the local media by not talking to them on an evening set aside for interviews with assistant coaches, West Virginia University’s latest defensive savior Tom Bradley found 14 minutes to talk to IMG Sports, which possesses the rights to West Virginia sports.
FURFARI COLUMN: Ex-WVU star loves coaching at FSU
Joe Mazzulla, a native of the Providence, R.I., area, now is in his first year as an assistant men’s basketball coach at Fairmont State University.
He had made his coaching debut during a two-year hitch as a member of the staff at Glenville State.
Former WVU player sues NCAA, five conferences
Former West Virginia football player Shawne Alston sued the NCAA and five major conferences Wednesday, saying they violated antitrust laws by agreeing to cap the value of an athletic scholarship at less than the actual cost of attending school.
WVU women clinch share of Big 12 title
West Virginia University’s women’s basketball team had just defeated Kansas, 67-60, to lay claim to a share of the Big 12 championship with Baylor on Tuesday night in the Coliseum, and someone had to sum up the feeling for the five seniors who had made the program grow to championship status.
That someone was Christal Caldwell.
- More WVU Sports Headlines
- HERTZEL COLUMN: Huggins just wants WVU to compete