Holgorsen shoulders blame for WVU's offensive ills
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Coach Dana Holgorsen was hired at West Virginia to replace Bill Stewart as head football coach because he was considered one of the most creative offensive coordinators in football.
Yet the problems this year's Mountaineers have had while struggling to a 4-7 record can be directly traced to the offense.
“I'm the first to say that we haven't had a winning offensive performance this season,” he said.
Eleven games into a 12-game season, with the finale coming up on Saturday at 4 p.m. on the home field against Iowa State, Holgorsen rates none of his team's performances on the offensive side of the ball good enough to win.
That comes after two seasons in which the Mountaineers lived up to the reputation he had built; first at the knee of offensive guru Mike Leech at Texas Tech, then as offensive coordinator at Houston and Oklahoma State running an offense that was at or near the top in the NCAA.
During his two seasons at WVU, he directed an offense quarterbacked by Geno Smith, who threw to Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey, all three of whom headed to the NFL.
During those two years, WVU broke nearly every school offensive record.
With that trio's departure, the offense went from extraordinary to ordinary. For the first time since 2002, WVU will not go to a bowl, regardless of the outcome against Iowa State.
WVU managed to win four games, beating overmatched William & Mary and Georgia State along with an upset of Oklahoma State — an upset that now can be called stunning after the Cowboys blew away previously unbeaten Baylor — and a win over TCU.
Holgorsen said to place the blame on him for the offensive deficiencies.
“All the dynamics combined haven't completed a winning effort. That's something that will get addressed in the offseason. Just point the fingers at me,” Holgorsen said.
“Continuity is the biggest thing. I don't anticipate ever being in this situation again. New guys, new coaches, etc. — I don't anticipate this happening ever again.”
Holgorsen said he believes his team made strides throughout the season and will benefit from the experience next year.
“We're going to be extremely competitive,” he said. “We are a better team now than we were last year, minus one or two guys.”
The Mountaineers close out the season with Iowa State, a team they would be expected to beat.
“Iowa State is the best 2-9 team in the country,” Holgorsen said. “They're an extremely competitive football team. They are what they usually are, which is incredibly coached. They have a tough outfit.
“They're extremely sound with their schemes. It will be a tremendous challenge for us as it is every week in the Big 12.”
WVU will go with either Paul Millard or normal starter Clint Trickett at quarterback. Trickett was cleared to play after suffering a concussion against Texas.
“(The Texas concussion) was the second one in three weeks. I had one against Kansas State that I didn't tell anyone about. I played through it.
“Obviously, I would have tried to play through the Texas one if I wasn't completely unconscious,” he said.
Bob Hertzel is a freelance writer.