MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia’s quarterbacks combined to throw only 27 passes Saturday, which is fewer than Geno Smith threw four times last season … in a half.

The temporary grounding of West Virginia’s Air Raid attack was designed partly to deflect pressure from WVU’s unsettled quarterbacks, partly to utilize the new subsidy of running backs, and partly because William & Mary frequently dropped eight defenders into coverage.

“We’ve got to run the ball when they’re playing off like that,” said offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson after West Virginia turned in an SEC-like run-pass ratio of 44-27. “We weren’t going to sit there and throw the ball 70 times when they had an eight-man coverage every time.

“They were really taking the top off the coverage, playing sort of an umbrella coverage.”

In the case of Charles Sims piling up 120 yards on 23 carries, the plan worked—though West Virginia averaged only 3.9 yards per rush as a team.

“We ran the ball probably more than at any time in the history of my coaching career,” said Holgorsen, who added that “it’s disappointing we didn’t get loose” for more long runs.

After a sluggish output of 165 first-half yards, West Virginia responded with 244 in the second half.

“Going in down at halftime there were a lot of question marks,” Dawson said. “But I think our guys showed some resilience.

“Obviously our game plan was pretty simple today—and it was for a reason. We had a lot of guys we were breaking in and we wanted to see how they would respond.”

Asked if this was a one-game anomaly or a full philosophical shift toward power football, Holgorsen let Paul Millard’s 19-of-25 passing day deliver the answer: “Hey, we still had a quarterback compete almost 80 percent of his passes.”

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  • Kevin

    Hah count us out please wvu always plays better we we are out of the spotlight. I was in lubbuc last yr I was also in Morgantown for the ou game my prediction wvu by 3 just because of ou's lack of leadership behind the center you guys got to admit defense looked a little better then last year

  • usual suspects

    There is no doubt we are better off with Holgersen and Luck than we would have been with Pastilong and Stewart (all respect due). Its now time to see if Holgy can build coaches and players and recruit. If he can we are going to be good for years. We will be able to follow a bowl game like Clemson with another winning team the following years. If he cant - we will be back to a mediocre 6-5 type team with a peak every 4 years (ala Nehlen). Look on the bright side - imagine if we had stayed in the big least.

  • Jerry Spiegler

    My biggest problem with the W&E game is that the defensive front didn't put enough pressure on their QB. Yes, their QB was a legit senior with a wide receiver that caught 2 really good deep passes. But Shaq and Will are just not top quality D-linemen. Too slow and not powerful enough. Each is good for maybe 2 good plays per game. Forget about Travis Bell and Ishmael Banks. They're just Pat Miller all over again.

  • Sandbag

    I might be the only one on here to say this but I think they sandbagged the game....its an age ole trick and done in many other sports. Done it many times racing in my younger days. I am pretty certain what you see next week will be a totally different team....btw, that means a better team!

  • magicj

    Everyone needs to back off holgorsen. Hes a great coach. Get over it stews gone. People like you are why wvu will never be an elite program.

  • H.

    They are a young team & they clearly have a long way to go. I was disappointed in the way that our defense played. I think that they really need to work hard on defense.

    • Kevin

      Did you miss last season? Defense was better. The two deep passes that were caught were defended well

  • Edgardo

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  • Tomgone12

    I appreciate the high expectations of the program. But really, new O-line, new QB, new RBs, new WRs? The O gm plan was simple. I'll give the O some time before I go sour. First drive was executed very well so it showed me that QB will be good, system is fine, and players will mature in the system, in game situations. Dawson said what I was thinking after the O lost momentum that the kids let up a bit after the first drive....too easy. That should change with experience. Millard did manage the game...they did come back. The 3 qtr TD was a rope caught in stride. Good paly call. For Millard even WITH the fumble no INT. If the O-line can get nasty this offense can control the game much more than the up-tempo-defense-back-on-the-field style of Gino Austin. BTW Holgs looks pretty smart offering a scholarship to Sims. The guy knew he needed a playmaker. If there is anything that we need right now it's better line play on both sides of the ball. Defense needs a pass rush and IF we develop one we WILL bet better than many think.

  • bluedevilredsteeler

    I think that the WVU coach may be in Huntington, oh the one that got away!

  • Boomgrounder

    Coach Holgs called the kind of game he said he was going to before the game. He said he was going to do what works and keep doing it. That's what he did. WVU was playing with 2 new QB's, 3 new RB's, a new WR corp and a new Redshirt Freshman Center and 2 new Guards. This is a whole new team! Overall it has a lot of talent and much more depth than last season's team. But it's going to take time to develop. These guys haven't played games together. This offense will improve as the season rolls along.
    The defense has much better depth compared to last season and LB's and secondary played better assignment football in the 2nd half. My biggest concern was D-line not winning one on one match ups against Redshirt Freshman Tackles.
    Special Teams played solid and should be improved overall, especially in the punting and kick coverage game.
    I was impressed with the players and the coaching staffs demeanor on the sidelines throughout the game. There was no panic at all. This is a change from last year. This is the "Leadership", Coach Holgs has been talking about. It has to start with him.
    Settle down people it's football. Enjoy it.
    Lets Go Mountaineers!! Beat the Hell out of Oklahoma!

    • Charleston,WV

      I agree with most of your imput, with the exception of our defensive secondary. However, like you stated, I believe we will improve.

  • Bagelknot

    I was very disappointed with this game. Sims and the punter looked great, PM was ok, but doesn't have much of an arm.. Holgerson's play calling was questionable at best. He may not have shown much, but it doesn't matter. They aren't very good and not well coached. I thought DH wad going to be a good coach, but I've changed my mind. He is not a leader and is extremely arrogant for some reason.

  • Leonard Williams

    To all of you people who are giving these negative comments, we used to call you "Armchair Quarterbacks" because you "THOUGHT" that you knew more than the Coaching Staff. If you all know so much and are so damned good then why, pray tell, are you writing comments to these stories? Why aren't all of you either "Playing" or "Coaching" somewhere is a "Mystery to me", being as you all "Know so much" about how to coach or play. I am really at a loss as to why you all do not go out and apply for a Coaching position RIGHT NOW.

  • EerFan

    My biggest disappointment was the coverage on the long ball. Again, our d-backs ran down the field with the receivers but never reacted to the ball. The defense picked it up in the 3rd quarter, and the fans let them know how much they liked it. The Mountaineers will get better on both sides of the ball.

  • westfair518

    I am amazed that so many "coaches" on this blog makes such stupid comments before the seasonn actually begins. Go WV!

  • Joe Swiger

    Instead of being so negative. Why can't mountaineer nation accept the fact that we don't have a tavon austin to turn a 5 yard slant into a 60 yard score? We should be patting these young men on the back and admiring their ability to overcome being behind at halftime. The D shut those guys down in the 2nd half and we did what we had to do for a W. Quit pointing out every single flaw in the opening game from a team that had its first snaps just a day ago. W&M came to play and did that very thing. Mistake free. We played a very conservative game to secure a win before we go to Norman and put a country a** thumpin on the sooners. LETS GO MOUNTAINEERS!!!!!