The Times West Virginian

WVU Sports

September 25, 2013

HERTZEL COLUMN: ‘Inept’ WVU offense is in good company

MORGANTOWN — It was obvious from the reactions across the state to West Virginia’s embarrassing 37-0 performance at Maryland that fans were beginning to believe Coach Dana Holgorsen’s once unstoppable offense had become as impotent as the shotgun of the 1970s or the split-T of the 1950s.

After being shut out by Maryland and held to seven points by Oklahoma, the only two major college opponents in the season’s first four games, there were questions about the offensive philosophy, personnel and coaching.

Holgorsen himself had called it “as inept as we can possibly be in college football.’’

Such talk makes one wonder if perception is reality, and so it was when the weekly college football statistics were published by the NCAA, we decided to see just where the WVU offense ranked.

Clearly it would not be up there with the Geno Smith offenses. The question was whether it was down among the bottom feeders who are happy if they can hang on to the football long enough to punt, and after six turnovers against Maryland the chances were that WVU would find itself among the teams it was trying to separate itself from when it jumped from the Big East to the Big 12.

What was discovered was surprising.

True, scoring the football has been a major problem and the 108 ranking is well deserved, but the fact that WVU stands 69th in rushing offense, 74th in passing offense and 72nd in total offense — while not exactly the results WVU expected when it ransomed its short-term profits to hire Holgorsen — weren’t at the bottom.

But here is what really was surprising.

WVU had some big-time, unexpected company.

Take that total offensive number of 74.

Horrors, right?

Well, No. 84 is a team named Alabama.

Not Alabama State. No, the national champion.

And how about these schools that over the years have been known to put up some big-time offensive numbers?

• Tennessee, 103

• Michigan State, 104

• Southern California 106

• Hawaii, 117

And passing? WVU stood at 74. Take a look at these rankings.

• Oklahoma, 73

• Michigan, 79

• Virginia Tech, 100

What is going on? That was the question put to Holgorsen.

“I don’t know,” he said after stammering for a while. “I wish I had an answer.”

He took a moment to think about it, then offered this.

“There’s a lot of people doing a lot of the same stuff. It’s so uptempo. Two weeks ago I looked at Oklahoma and I thought I was looking in the mirror,” he said. “This week, looking at Oklahoma State, it’s like looking in the same mirror. They are doing some of the same stuff. There’s a lot of teams doing a lot of the same stuff.”

Football, you see, is a copycat world where if it works, everyone runs it until someone figures a way to defend it, then goes back to the basics, which almost always begins with a run-based offense to set up the pass.

“When I studied Maryland’s offense, their offense looked a lot like our offense, a lot of the same stuff. There would be some different stuff with the quarterback run stuff, but a lot was the same,” Holgorsen said.

Maryland, of course, wound up with 37 points, WVU none.

“It sounds to me like a lot of guys are coaching it a lot better than I am,” Holgorsen concluded.

In truth, if you are going to run an offense, you have to know what you wouldn’t want to face defensively. No offense beats every defense. The familiarity with the offense is growing and as it grows, people learn to defend it.

“Is it happening?” Holgorsen said. “I think a lot of coaches are getting used to defending the same offense. Then you have to throw in some parity in college football as well. There’s a lot of good teams in college football. A lot of teams have a lot of good coaches.”

So there you have it. I’m not sure what, but it must be something because no one could imagine WVU being shut out under Holgorsen.

Follow Bob Hertzel on Twitter @bhertzel.

1
Text Only
WVU Sports
  • 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

  • WVU signs guard; Adrian arrested for DUI

    There was something good and something bad for West Virginia men’s basketball coach Bob Huggins this past weekend as Kansas junior college player Tarik Phillip committed to play for the Mountaineers but rising sophomore Nathan Adrian was charged with Under 21 DUI after he was stopped at 1:20 a.m. Sunday for an expired registration sticker.

    April 15, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN- Most plays good, some not so good in Gold-Blue scrimmage

    There appeared to be a fine mixture of plays, most good with some not so good, in last Saturday’s West Virginia University’s Gold-Blue football scrimmage.

    April 15, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN- Garrison still proving he can carry the ball

    The running back raves from the West Virginia coaching this spring have been directly mostly toward Wendell Smallwood, and rest assured he earned every one of them with his versatility, but it was a reborn running back who well may have taken the biggest jump up the depth chart.

    April 14, 2014

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