Holgorsen, WVU Looking For Answers As Off Week Begins
MORGANTOWN,W.Va. — There was one thing that Dana Holgorsen said in the West Virginia coach’s post-mortem following Saturday’s underwhelming 30-14 loss at Iowa State that stood above all else.
He had been asked about how he would approach this week’s off-week in the schedule and responded:
“They ain’t getting any time off. I can guarantee you that.”
This will be a working vacation, so to speak, and let us understand that the most crucial part of it is how the coaches approach it.
In the dark ages, the days of Lombardi and Hayes and Bryant, it would be boot camp.
Blood and guts would be the approach, and certainly there is something to be said in favor of such an approach.
But this is a different era, different kids and a different kind of football where toughness is required but where skill and smarts and technique is far more important in winning football games.
First, Holgorsen has to win back his team.
Right now, players are questioning many things about themselves and their coaches and the approach. They are confused and their egos have been bruised.
So first, you have to stop whatever finger pointing there is, something Holgorsen addressed while the ashes of defeat were still hot in Ames.
“There’s enough blame to go around for everybody…If that’s the case, the one you need to look at is (me),” Holgorsen said.
In the end, of course, everything comes down on the head coach.
Holgorsen understands he has to examine many things, from decision to turn the play-calling over to trusted offensive coordinator Jake Spavital to perhaps getting away from who he is with a move toward going with less tempo, to expanding upon some of the offensive philosophies that he cut his teeth on.
Certainly there is much to fix … and everyone seems to understand that it is mostly on the offensive side of the ball. If there is a defensive problem it can probably be found in the training room, where injuries year after year deplete what is not the deepest of talent in the league.
“This one was on the offense. We really didn’t give the defense anything to feed off of. It hurts me saying that,” admitted wide receiver David Sills, who scored WVU’s only offensive touchdown against Iowa State.
In the last 10 quarters, WVU has been outscored 76-45 by its opponents —the second half against Texas Tech and the two games against Kansas and Iowa State.
Holgorsen called the offensive performance “the worst I’ve seen in my 30 years of coaching.”
He wasn’t kidding, having been held to 42 plays for the entire game and just 152 yards of offense. “We didn’t do anything right. We didn’t make plays, we didn’t keep our eyes where they needed to be, we didn’t run fast, we didn’t get off coverage, we didn’t make good decisions. We didn’t call good plays and we didn’t block,” Holgorsen said.
And Holgorsen left no doubt that West Virginia, not Iowa State, was the main culprit in stopping the Mountaineers.
“They didn’t come up with a magical defense to stop what we do,” he said.
Holgorsen vowed right off the top that he would immerse himself fully in the offense, that he would work toward coming up with the answers before West Virginia takes the field again to begin the most crucial part of its season and, maybe, his career.