The Times West Virginian

WVU 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
WVU Sports
  • WVU takes first step Thursday

    Perhaps the most used – and least factual – cliché in sports is as follows:
    “There’s no tomorrow.”
     

    July 30, 2014

  • Must WVU defense carry offense in ’14?

    The other day the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette ran a story under the following headline:
     

    July 30, 2014

  • smallwood-wendell(1)-2.jpg Charges against Smallwood dropped

     West Virginia University running back Wendell Smallwood took to Twitter mid-afternoon Tuesday to express his feelings after charges of witness intimidation against him were dropped by the state of Delaware.
    It took him only three words to say what was on his mind: “God is Good.” Smallwood is now free to return to West Virginia and rejoin his Mountaineer teammates when they open camp for the 2014 season Thursday.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Charges against Smallwood dropped

    West Virginia University running back Wendell Smallwood took to Twitter mid-afternoon Tuesday to express his feelings after charges of witness intimidation against him were dropped by the state of Delaware.

    July 29, 2014

  • Were Bowlsby’s fears about college athletics’ future justified?

    I have never met or even talked to Bob Bowlsby, commissioner of the Big 12 Conference.
    But I did read a lengthy story on his 45-minute address to reporters last week on Media Day in Dallas, Texas. Among other things, Bowlsby forecast a startling change threatening the existence of intercollegiate athletics as we have known for these many, many years.

    July 28, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Big 12 provides plenty of optimism

    This past week the Big 12 held its annual media gathering in Dallas and served up a heaping portion of optimism for the 2014 season that is now upon us, West Virginia University opening its preseason practices on Thursday.
    This is a time of year when no one has lost a game, not even Charlie Weis at Kansas, and it’s a time of year when opinions are more plentiful than tattoos in an NFL locker room.

    July 27, 2014

  • Seider's brother commits to WVU

    West Virginia University’s football team has received a commitment from one of its own.

    July 26, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Big 12 provides much optimism heading into 2014 season

    This past week the Big 12 held its annual media gathering in Dallas and served up a heaping portion of optimism for the 2014 season that is now upon us, West Virginia University opening its preseason practices on Thursday.

    July 26, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: WVU needs White to follow in former receivers’ footsteps

    A year ago Clint Trickett took a lot of grief as the once potent West Virginia offense came unraveled, but there is more that than meets the eye.
    The criticism was not unfounded, of course, although behind each incomplete pass there was the pain Trickett was suffering through to throw it, his rotator cuff in need of surgery.

    July 26, 2014

  • Forsey posts Top 10 finish at World Championships

    Freshman Jillian Forsey of the West Virginia University cross country team finished ninth at the 2014 IAAF World Junior Track and Field Championships in Eugene, Oregon.
    Forsey, a native of Stephenville, Newfoundland and Labrador, was representing Team Canada. She was the first Canadian to cross the finish line in the women’s 5,000-meter run, finishing in ninth place overall in 16:02.55.

    July 26, 2014

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