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Holgorsen, WVU dealing with inconsistencies

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — There's no question West Virginia's offense and defense have played well in spurts this season.

At times, the offense has seemed unstoppable en route to averaging 38.2 points and 487.8 yards per game. The defense also has been a stonewall in stretches, a reason it ranks 25th in total defense.

But as West Virginia's 6-3 record and 2-2 Big East mark suggest, it hasn't been enough.

"The problem is that offensively, we did well in spurts but did not have a winning performance," coach Dana Holgorsen said. "We weren't doing the specific things that it takes to dominate one side of the ball to the point that we win the game. It's the same thing defensively.

The Mountaineers are looking for more consistency and efficiency on both sides of the ball.

"We're still learning how to play as a team," Holgorsen said, "and we're still learning how to dominate one side of the ball."

Holgorsen's offense has put up good numbers. The Mountaineers rank 12th nationally in total offense and 13th in scoring offense. They've eclipsed 400 yards of offense in eight games this season and 500 five times.

Still, the points come in bursts.

After taking a 21-7 lead over Louisville on Saturday, West Virginia went six consecutive drives without points, as the Cardinals took a 10-point lead. The Mountaineers then scored on their next two drives, going 98 and 65 yards.

"We're all learning," junior quarterback Geno Smith said. "It's not an effort thing out there. I don't see guys going through the motions. I see guys giving effort. We're learning how to make plays within the system, and everyone's learning their roles and basically how to make this system go."

It's the same story on defense, which has allowed more than 350 yards of offense each of the past three games.

But the Mountaineers dominated the second half against Louisville. They allowed only 59 yards until the Cardinals put together a 13-play, 66-yard drive to seal the game.

The defense hasn't always taken the field under the best circumstances. Inconsistencies in the punting game, and that 10 of the offense's 14 turnovers have left the defense to defend short fields, have made it difficult at times.

Still, defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel is making no excuses, saying three-and-out every drive is the goal.

"The bottom line is no matter where you go out and play defense, you have to go out and do a good job," he said. "The kids understand that, but it's just we haven't been consistent in doing the things we need to do."

It's part of a growing process. The offense is just nine games into Holgorsen's system, and the younger players on defense are adjusting to being full-time starters.

"One of these games it's definitely going to click," junior receiver Tavon Austin said, "and when it does, it'll show."

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