The Times West Virginian

December 1, 2013

HERTZEL COLUMN- Dismal, losing year for WVU comes to close

By Bob Hertzel
For the Times West Virginian

MORGANTOWN — West Virginia will survive this.

Will Dana Holgorsen?

This, of course, is 2013. And unlucky 2013, if you prefer, but certainly a miserable one.

It is a losing year, a dismal, losing year without offense, without defense.

It ended on a day without sunshine, literally and figuratively, a day when West Virginia University lost to Iowa State.

There are many ways to look at what transpired, each one worse than the last.

West Virginia blew a 31-7 lead.

It didn’t have to.

West Virginia finished 4-8.

It didn’t have to.

West Virginia drew 33,735 fans into Milan Puskar Stadium, a place that seats 60,000, the third-smallest crowd in the stadium’s 34-year history, second lowest if you don’t count a blizzard the day of the Louisiana Tech game in 1992.

It was the smallest crowd when West Virginia was the worst team on the field.

As noted, West Virginia didn’t have to lose this game and even though there were some bizarre turnovers and even more bizarre moments, there was coaching, too.

If it just could have – or would have – run the ball in the fourth quarter the game never would have seen overtime, let alone triple overtime.

It was running it fine until the fourth quarter, 205 rushing yards in the first three quarters, Charles Sims streaking past 1,000 yards for the season on a 76-yard TD run.

Seventy-six yards on that one play.

Want to know how many rushing yards WVU recorded in the fourth quarter?

Four! Twelve feet of rushing. That’s 144 inches.

In the fourth quarter, your opponent is not the team lining up across the line of scrimmage. It’s that clock ticking away in the end zone.

Your job is to keep it ticking … tick, Tick, TICK!!!!

Run the ball, run the clock.

They rushed the ball five times in the fourth quarter, passed it 11 times.

Who is your best offensive weapon, Clint Trickett or Charles Sims.

RUN THE BALL!!!!

“I thought we ran the ball pretty good. We had 212 yards rushing. The fourth quarter they’re not bad against the run. They had some more people up in there. You can sit there and have the mentality to think about 8 minutes on the clock but we didn’t have the ball a bunch.

“You can run the ball three times, let the clock run, but with that mentality you are going to end up punting. Run the ball you get negative one yard, run it again you might get two yards but you are going to end up punting.

“It’s the whole four minute offense discussion.”

Last time anyone checked the rule book doesn’t limit you to minus one yard on one carry, two yards on the next.

Punting isn’t so bad. May we remind you of a 68-yard punt followed by a 52-yard punt downed at the 3-yard line early in the game by West Virginia.

There are many questions you can ask about the coaching, right down to having one final play in overtime and not calling a time out before it. Of course, he might have feared a timeout because right at the end of regulation, when he might have been able have been able to put five yards to good use on a field goal try, his team was penalized for delay of game coming out of consecutive time outs.

“We were trying to figure out what play to run and no one was aware the clock was at 25 and not 40,” Trickett said.

So again we ask, can Holgorsen survive this and all that preceded it. There have been people saying discussions about a buyout have taken place, that while the school is on the hook for $11.3 million they might get Holgorsen to accept $6 million … with the caveat that they purchase his house for around $2 million.

True? Can’t pin it down as fact, but that’s the word coming from some people close to the university.

Certainly Athletic Director Oliver Luck has to be considering it, as hard as it may be because he staked his reputation on that hire and stirred a lot of pots the wrong way with it.

It may not happen. The coaching staff is talking like it won’t, but even if it doesn’t, can the staff be safe. The offense didn’t produce like any Holgorsen offense before it, the defense wound up performing second worst in school history and special teams … well, if Joe DeForest is back there almost has to be an investigation into why.

Holgorsen says his team made progress this year.

“Our record may not show it and I will be judged on that,” he said. “I understand that.”

Follow Bob Hertzel on Twitter @bhertzel.