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WVU renews its emphasis on better blocking

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By Josh Sickles
Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2011
 

West Virginia's offense did a lot of things right in the season's first game.

The Mountaineers moved the ball effectively. They scored three touchdowns on offense and put up points on five of their eight drives. They also didn't turn the ball over during the three-plus quarters of the game.

Still, there's one thing that West Virginia didn't do well at all.

"The blocking was a huge disappointment," coach Dana Holgorsen said. "We can dissect it as much as we want to, but the one component is, and always will be, blocking."

The Mountaineers, who moved up to No. 19 in this week's Associated Press poll, struggled to block Marshall effectively and look to improve this week.

Their difficulty was most apparent in the running game. True freshman Andrew Buie started at running back but failed to gain any momentum in West Virginia's rushing attack. He finished with just 30 yards on 15 carries before leaving the game in the third quarter with a collarbone injury.

Fellow freshman Vernard Roberts didn't fare any better, gaining just 12 yards on seven carries, but he did score a touchdown on a 1-yard plunge in the fourth quarter before the game was ended due to the weather.

"We just need to finish blocks," said right tackle Pat Eger, a Thomas Jefferson graduate. "We were getting on the right people. We just need to finish, bury people in the ground and what not, just stay on our blocks longer and make bigger holes for the backs."

Holgorsen said it wasn't necessarily just the offensive line to blame for the lack of a consistency. He said the other players on the field weren't much better.

"Some of the running game problems were the running backs not blocking for the other backs. Some of the running game problems were inside receivers not blocking for running backs. The others' blocking was just as bad as the offensive line's blocking," Holgorsen said.

Blocking is the key to making Holgorsen's offense effective. It's something the coaches and players will try to correct this week, but no one was happy with their first-game performance.

"Coach Holgorsen likes effort," said inside receiver Tyler Urban, a Norwin graduate. "He says blocking's all effort. We didn't show our full effort on some of the blocking.

"Even if you're backside away from the play, he wants you blocking. He wants you to make an effort to block, so that's something we need to work on."

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