The Times West Virginian

September 1, 2013

Holgorsen’s ‘Air Raid’ offense stays grounded

By Bob Hertzel
Times West Virginian

MORGANTOWN — Dana Holgorsen has made his reputation throwing the football, but this year’s West Virginia University team definitely is taking on a running personality and he has no problem with that.

“Whatever we’re good at is what we’re going to do,” the coach said after rushing 44 times for 204 yards in a surprisingly difficult 24-17 victory over William & Mary. “It doesn’t matter if we win by one or win by 40 or if we throw 50 passes and win or run 50 times and win.”

The fact of the matter is that WVU is a different team than it was a year ago with Geno Smith, Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey.

“We have to figure out what we do well,” Holgorsen said.

And, with his depth at running back, that’s where he will turn.

Newcomer Charles Sims from Houston made a big difference, rushing for 120 yards on 23 carries while scoring the first touchdown of the season on a nifty little 5-yard run that included a tricky stutter step and a cut into the open.

Holgorsen was disappointed only in the fact that didn’t break anything longer than 19 yards on the ground.

“It’s disappointing we didn’t get loose,” he said. “We ran the ball probably more than at any time during the history of my coaching career, but I felt like it was the right thing to do. They were dropping a lot of people, and you couldn’t really get a read on if they were going to drop them or blitz them.”

In truth, the running game helped the passing game which saw new starter Paul Millard complete 19 of 25 for 237 yards and a touchdown of 69 yards to wide receiver Ronnie Carswell.

“We started running the ball effectively and they started creeping up,” Millard explained. “We were getting 4-, 5-, 6-, 7-, 8-yard gains, and when those safeties start creeping up, that’s when you can go over the top. You have to know when you can do that and Ronnie made a great play.”

o o o o o o

This was a new experience for Sims, who had been an all-Conference USA player at Houston, graduating this year which allowed him to transfer to WVU and be eligible immediately.

Asked what was strangest about the new experience, he answered: “Playing in front of 60,000. That was the crazy thing to me.”

Wait until next Saturday when he’s out there in front of 80,000 crazies at Oklahoma.

o o o o o o

Paul Millard was given the starting nod over Clint Trickett, but Holgorsen had no idea how it would play out. He had planned on giving them both the same number of snaps, but Millard started hot, hitting his first eight passes and getting WVU the lead.

Holgorsen let him play the entire first quarter, then brought in Trickett for the second quarter but he missed on his first two passes and the coach felt he had to get Millard back into the game immediately.

o o o o o o

Freshman Daikiell Shorts had a solid WVU debut with seven receptions for 63 yards. Dreamius Smith’s debut at running back saw him gain 40 yards on 12 carries, while freshman Wendell Smallwood scored the winning touchdown on a 2-yard burst.

o o o o o o

  WVU had eight first-time starters in the game. … WVU is now 16-0-1 against William & Mary. … Nick Kwiatkowski was the leading tackler for WVU with seven, his career high.