WVU’s Head Coach With A Stark Response To The Play Selection
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Dana Holgorsen made his feelings clear on the goal line play during which Will Grier was injured.
“It’s second and one on the one,” Holgorsen said. “Why do you have to have the quarterback run all the way around the edge? When quarterbacks run the ball, bad things happen. Hand the ball off. It’s second and one. Hand it off. I gotta make sure that happens.”
It was actually third and goal from the one, but otherwise Holgorsen’s remark was a surprisingly stark rebuke of the play call from coordinator Jake Spavital. Instead of handing to Justin Crawford, Spavital had Grier fake the handoff and run a keeper to the left side. The quarterback dove near the pylon while a pair of Texas defenders made contact. The ball was fumbled out of the end zone resulting in a touchback, while Grier suffered a broken bone in his right (throwing) hand.
Spavital said there were past circumstances where he wished he would have handed off, and when the handoff was stuffed and he wished the quarterback would have kept the ball. Hindsight is 20-20, however, and it’s largely unfair completely ridicule the play selection, though the results were devastating. Not only did West Virginia not score, it handed the ball back to Texas and sidelined the nation’s third-leading passer for the final three-plus quarters.
Still, if the result were different, the in-depth examination of the call would be far lesser.
“We are in a bad spot on offense and it’s my responsibility to get it right,” Holgorsen said. “There have been some things that I have overlooked. That is not going to happen anymore. We have a hard time blocking. We have a hard time completing passes. We have a hard time getting open. We are not very efficient.
“Third downs are horrible. We can’t finish drives in the red zone. That’s the best defense we have faced all year, but if you want to be able to win games like that you have to be more efficient. It’s on me. We gotta fix it. It’s not a very confident offense that looks like it’s getting worse.”
Back-up Chris Chugunov entered and completed 14-of-26 passes for 189 yards and a touchdown to Ka’Raun White. West Virginia rode its defense – and an interception return for a score by Kenny Robinson – for as a long as it could, but ultimately wilted under another sluggish offensive performance. The Mountaineers finished with just 295 yards of offense – Grier averaged 344 yards passing entering – and were four of 16 on third down while reaching the red zone just twice.
“We didn’t put them in the best positions today to be successful, which is disappointing to me,” Holgorsen said. “Nonetheless, you don’t score you can’t win. We had a hard time getting first downs. We had a hard time finishing drives. You are not going to win any games when that happens.
“Injuries are a part of college football. When that happens guys need to step up. They need to go in there and play. I thought for the most part Chugs did that. He made some critical mistakes, but everybody around him needs to elevate their game as well and I did not see that happen. He wasn’t wide-eyed. He went in there and played. When that situation happens you need everybody around him to elevate their game and they didn’t.”