MORGANTOWN, W.Va.— How did Paul Millard greet Friday night’s news that he would start the next day’s game against William & Mary?

“I slept like a baby,” he said.

Millard probably slept equally sound Saturday night too, having rallied West Virginia out of a 10-point hole to avoid an embarrassing Week 1 stumble against the second-weakest team on this year’s schedule.

Whether Dana Holgorsen and his staff slept well is less likely, considering this retooled team didn’t wow anyone with its debut performance. Asked what areas need attention as the Mountaineers turn preparations toward Oklahoma, the coach replied, “Where do I start?”

Well, we’ll start with Millard and the quarterbacks in evaluating WVU on the season’s first Monday morning stock report (up, down and neutral grades):

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Paul Millard wasn’t complaining about the atypical run-pass ratio WVU employed against William & Mary. “Handing off makes my job easier,” he joked.
QUARTERBACKS
Millard completed his first six passes and finished 19-of-25 for 237 yards and one crucial touchdown—a 69-yarder to Ronald Carswell that equalized the game late in the third quarter. He also suffered WVU’s lone turnover, failing to protect the football on a sack, which Holgorsen lovingly labeled a “bonehead play.” Clint Trickett’s second-quarter appearance was brief, resulting in consecutive three-and-outs, at which time it became Millard’s game.
“The closer it got to game day, the communication between Paul and me was better,” Holgorsen explained. “I felt more comfortable with Paul out there. I thought his tempo was really good most of the drives, especially the first one where we marched it down and scored.”
RUNNING BACKS
Charles Sims carried 23 times, nearing the career-high 26 he had in a game at Houston last year, and ran for 120. His best rush capped the opening drive, an 11-yard touchdown on which he darted through three potential William & Mary tacklers without being touched.
Dreamius Smith managed 40 yards on 12 tough carries, and freshman Wendell Smallwood ran four times for 22 yards, including a physical 2-yard goal-line run that gave WVU the lead late in the game.
RECEIVERS
Freshman Daikiel Shorts made a team-high seven catches for 63 yards and alertly recovered a downfield fumble by KJ Myers, who had three catches for 30 yards.
Carswell picked up a first down with a 4-yard hitch one play before he burned William & Mary deep. Devonte Mathis (four for 44 yards) and Ivan McCartney (two for 15) saw plenty of reps, the kind of rotation Holgorsen projected to continue. McCartney had the chance to make two diving possession catches but couldn’t hold them.
The group’s makeup could be altered with the return of Kevin White, the junior college transfer who missed the opener with a foot injury.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

WVU left tackle Quinton Spain (67) blocked William & Mary’s Braxton Hicks on this play, but allowed two sacks to the Tribe’s Mike Reilly.
OFFENSIVE LINE
Two sacks might be understandable on a 60-pass day, but when the quarterbacks drop only 29 times, it’s concerning. Made more troubling by the fact William & Mary’s front seven lacks the athleticism WVU will face in the Big 12. Quinton Spain was twice beaten to the quarterback by Mike Reilly, a 265-pound junior making only his second college start.
The running game was functional, though not as productive as hoped against an FCS defense primarily concerned about stopping the pass. (West Virginia averaged a mere 3.9 yards per carry.) There was a clutch bit of power football in the fourth quarter as WVU, on its 50-yard, go-ahead touchdown march, ran it seven times in eight plays.
Another under-appreciated moment was center Tyler Orlosky picking up a blitzing linebacker just long enough for Millard to fling the deep touchdown pass to Carswell.
On the flags front, the versatile Pat Eger drew a holding penalty that WVU overcame on its second series and Mark Glowinski suffered an illegal motion penalty.
DEFENSIVE LINE
This unit produced no sacks, but Will Clarke and Dontrill Hyman each generated a hurry on Tribe quarterback Michael Graham. “We could a lot better in the pass rush, because we really didn’t get much of one,” said Clarke, who had one TFL among his five stops. Hyman has tremendous upside but has yet to turn it loose as he learns his responsibilities. Defensive end Eric Kinsey made three tackles and moved inside to nose on obvious passing downs.
Nose tackle Shaq Rowell was active and led the way with six tackles for a unit that was adequate against the run (31 carries for 102 yards—or 3.3 yards per carry).

Joe Sadlek/All-Pro Photography

Senior linebacker Doug Rigg registered WVU’s lone sack in the opener.
LINEBACKERS
Under defensive coordinator Keith Patterson’s aggressive scheme, this group is expected to be disruptive, but their first game didn’t match expectations. Isaiah Bruce, in his first game sliding out to the Spur position, made five tackles and had an assist on a negative-yardage play. At the Buck position, Brandon Golson (five stops) had a solid debut, while backup Dozie Ezemma had one pressure off the edge.
Senior Doug Rigg, after labeling himself a run-stopper during preseason camp, made West Virginia’s only sack and also deflected a pass. His backup Jared Barber made four tackles, but was unable to stop Graham from lunging across the goal line on third-and-5 scramble. On William & Mary’s previous touchdown, both Barber and Rigg ran past Darnell Laws as the running back slipped free for a 1-yard scoring catch.
Making his second career start, sophomore Nick Kwiatkoski made a team-high seven tackles, all but one on running plays.
SECONDARY
Cornerback Icky Banks was outmaneuvered by Tre McBride on a 40-yard catch in the first quarter, and free safety Karl Joseph suffered the same fate on McBride’s 28-yard catch later in the half. Strong safety Darwin Cook bit on a play-fake and was caught playing catchup on McBride’s final grab—another 40-yarder. Travis Bell, making his first start at cornerback, was flagged for pass interference.
Some of those negatives were tempered by Cook’s game-clinching interception with 3:09 left, but William & Mary hit a few too many big plays in throwing for 207 yards. That sounds minuscule compared to the Big 12 offenses WVU will face, but the Tribe was huddling up and ran only 58 plays.
Coming off a 100-tackle freshman season, Joseph had a quiet opening day with three stops, while Bell made four and Banks three. Cook had six tackles, including two in punt-coverage situations that he enjoyed more than the interception. “I felt like Rudy from Notre Dame out there,” Cook said. “I was just running, just feeling like a walk-on.”
As expected, true freshman Daryl Worley and sophomore KJ Dillon played in some packages.

Joe Sadlek/All-Pro Photography

Darwin Cook makes a crunching tackle on a fourth-quarter punt coverage.
SPECIAL TEAMS
Nick O’Toole’s big leg, not to mention his big porn ‘stache, became instantly legendary in Saturday’s debut. His two fourth-quarter punts traveled 56 and 60 yards, helping WVU off its own goal line each time. The sophomore transfer finished with an average of 50.6 per attempt.
“He’s got a big leg,” Holgorsen said. “That’s why I recruited him.”
Redshirt freshman kicker Josh Lambert didn’t come close on a 55-yard try, though Holgorsen said “I have seen Josh make 90 percent of those in practice.” Lambert later drilled a 22-yarder. “He just didn’t hit it,” Holgorsen said of the first attempt, “but he got that out of his system and came back and knocked the next one through.”
WVU’s return units didn’t break anything, and Jordan Thompson’s failure to field a fourth-quarter punt left the offense wedged at its own 6.
The punt-coverage unit was stellar, holding the Tribe to 3 yards on two returns, while the kick-coverage was merely adequate—with McBride averaging 26 yards on three runbacks.

Joe Sadlek/All-Pro Photography

WVU coach Dana Holgorsen leaves the field after Saturday’s victory.
COACHING
Holgorsen took some questions on his decision to try a 55-yard kick after William & Mary followed the miss with a six-play touchdown drive. But the risk wasn’t unsubstantiated, given Lambert’s practice performance and the kicker’s self-evaluation that he feels comfortable from 53 to 54 yards out.
A more crucial decision was to abandon the quarterback rotation after Trickett failed to net a first down in two series. Turning the game over to Millard and letting the offense find its tempo in the second half might have saved WVU from a crushing upset.
However, the coaching receives a minus for the mere fact that this was a tight game throughout. Even with only six starters returning at their 2012 positions, West Virginia was far more physically imposing and expected to handle its FCS opponent handily.
bubble graphic

62

bubble graphic

Comments

  • wvu83

    I agree with you Thomas 100%.get a life cry babies.

    • Gary

      If the negative critics ever played any football, it obviously was without the head protection afforded by a helmet.

  • Thomas

    Fairweather fans suck.... You people and all your vast knowledge get on my nerves. Whether you like the uniforms the coaches, the players ... It is what it is. Bashing the kids and coaches constantly isn't doing anything but making you all look like crappy fair weather fans. We went from the minor leagues( big east) to the majors. There is going to be growing pains. We had a lot of years of great success in a crap league. We will get better and we will learn to hang with the big boys. If these coaches and players don't get it done, the powers that be will make a change. To much money to be lost to not. So be a fan if you are one. Support your team. If not quit being a bipolar bunch of cry babies!!!!!

    • EPR

      Cool story bro. Tell it again

  • Richard

    John B, you are nuts, you need to reverse your guess, try 5-7 or 4-8.

  • Harpers Ferry

    Allan, I thought it was going to be a cakewalk.

    • Allan Taylor

      @Harpers: I was off by a bit there, eh?

      • Harpers Ferry

        No worries, just some good natured ribbing. Just don't come out with any articles on gambling advice on weekend spreads. Haha!

  • john b

    Not a great game, but unlike Oregon St and Kansas State we won. I like Holgs. We are finally building depth from that unqualified Coach Stewart who left the depth chart bare. New guys, especially a lot of freshman working into the lineup. This team will get better as the year goes along. 7-5 or 8-4. Key game will be (as it always seems to be) against Maryland. We win that game we should win at least 7. We lose perhaps 5.

    • Martinsburg Resident

      It is refreshing to read knowledgeable & well-informed post such as your's... some of these "fair weather fans" who do nothing but bash WVU's program probably never played a down of football. Your point on the outcome of the Maryland game is correct... we win that game and our season will be a winning one at the very least. Go Mountaineers!

  • big tom

    this was disheartening and embarrassing. with the salaries these coaches are getting, shame on them , the should give half of it back.
    deforest making 500 grand per yr, is just insulting to the working man.
    the coaching staff got out coached, plain and simple...dana especially.
    but, we have to be patient.. two more yrs for dana...next yr should show some improvement...
    we sure do miss the recruiting abilities of Doc Holiday...and stew really helped on that particular phase.
    but I like this staff as well and want to give them time,,, I think they can also recruit just as well, eer fans , it takes time to turn a program around especially when you are playing against superior talent.

    • westfair518

      big tom, it is always better in other people's yard. I thought that Coach Stew was a good man, but not a coach for the modern young men. Time had just past him by in the new world of throwing the football.

  • Stevie

    Hey Allan,
    I know that "porn 'stache" seems to have entered the lexicon, especially amongst younger people, but I'm not sure it's the most appropriate term to use in a column viewed by people of all ages. Personally, I don't care, nor am I offended, but I can't help but cringe at the thought of my parents (or grandparents) reading that.

    • Christopher

      I was thinking the same thing actually. Kind of surprised when I saw that in a column. Not offended, just a bit surprised.

  • WVU2013

    The defense is still awful! The corners gave the receivers a 10 yard coushing and they still got beat by the long ball. The secondary is a joke!

    • EPR

      *cushion

      • WVU2013

        EPR,
        The word "cushion" is a certainly a unconventional word. The misspelling does not detract from my brilliant statement. I am certain that you had to look up the correct spelling. I hope that you develop brain cancer. You rude low I.Q. cretin!

        • Mark

          Take a look at the grammar...

        • john

          your statement was far from brilliant.

          • WVU2013

            I am very brilliant compared to you backwoods hicks in Morgantown..

        • EPR

          K

  • bva24

    Holgorsen's a fraud.

    • Gary

      We hung Bowden in effigy, routinely criticized a Hall of Famer named Nehlen, and we are so full of football knowledge that we can proclaim Holg's is a fraud!! You are just providing ammo for him to go elsewhere and make more $$$$.

      • bva24

        LOL...I'm certain schools are lined up around the block to learn just what it takes to get schooled by Syracuse and make Bill & Mary look like a real football team.

      • CalEer

        I agree Gary. As a WVU grad who has lived in Silicon Valley for the past 30 years, it amazes me how intensely negative many of our fans are in their posts. Holgorson's teams are fun to watch and he's a progressive thinker. And Luck...are you kidding me? Forget hindsight with the ACC, without his adept maneuvering, WVU was in severe jeopardy of being one of the odd schools out. It's healthy to critique, but do it in a way that is constructive and with the understanding the game will continually evolve and (since we do not load up with 4-5 start recruits) our approach to the game must be innovative as a way to gain an advantage rather than just play "smash-mouth football." It's all good and we will have a fighting chance in every ball game this year.

        • bva24

          The 14 points we put up on Syracuse and the offensive explosion on Saturday are the definition of fun football to watch.

    • EPR

      Prove it

      • Brian

        it.*

        • Oh Did Ya?

          Lol.

  • Rick

    Thank god it was only William and Mary. If it had been a real football team, WVU might have had to make a game of it...oh wait, they did have to make a come-back.
    I don't care for Holgerson and his coaching style. Now maybe they were holding back, thinking of Oklahoma next week...but still. The coaching was bad just the same...I agree with on reader comments about the uniforms. They we're hard to watch on the tv...

    • EPR

      *were

  • chester

    Who cares how hot it was Saturday, those uniforms were terrible. The numbers looked like a kid designed them. The five's (5) looked like backward upside down two's (2). Let us spend less time on 27 different uniform combo's and get down and play some smash mouth football!

    • Brad

      Are you kidding. These new uniforms look great. They finally got rid of those hideous RR era generic looking high school uniforms. The blue is actually dark again, unlike the aforementioned abominations which equally watered down our beloved gold and blue colors. The numbers are different, but I like the symbolism they stand for. At least for now, we won't confuse them with the Cal Ugly Bears!

    • big tom

      i'm still a tradionalist, I want the blue tops and gold bottoms,, this is wvu,,,all blue is no good, and all yellow really sucks,,, who picks these anyway...some blind person.

    • Oh Did Ya?

      Let's not kid ourselves. The new uniforms, like everything, are all about the money. Notice they didn't come out last year when WVU had all of their offensive talent back and jerseys were flying off the shelves. They needed a reason to sell jerseys this year with almost no recognizeable players back. Nike doesn't make billions for no reason.....

      • EPR

        Thank you captain obvious

        • Brian

          obvious.*

        • Oh Did Ya?

          The comment was based on the fact that posters on here act like Holgs or Luck have something to do with jerseys. They simply determine which of the 27 combinations are worn. Thanks to you for correcting all of the spelling misses on these posts. Without your deep knowledge of the English language we wouldn't have known what those posts said.

  • Phil M.

    This is what I saw.

    Overall on offense except for the fumble on the sack I thought Millard played well. It's obvious that Sims is the real deal. The offensive line missed a lot of blocking assigments as did our tight end. This for now is a run based team with possession passing. Coach Nehlen must be smiling. No speed burners like we have become use to.

    On defense no sacks or consistent pressure and the linebackers failed to cover the running backs on short flair passes out of the backfield. The corners are still running with their backs to the ball and Karl Joseph while being a good run stopper is a long way from being the cover safety we need him to be.

    The coaching staff was out coached by the Tribe coaching staff. I don't see the in game adjustments you need to be successful.

    Special teams, especially our punting game bailed us out on several occaisions and flipped the field.

    Lots of work to do and I would like to see more fire and passion out of the players. Oh and one question. Do we as the home team have the option of what uniform we wear ? If we do why did we wear all dark blue on such a hot day. All white would have helped with the heat. Just curious.

  • tw eagle

    and cook does remind me of rudy too . . .tries hard , hits hard , means well . . . .BUT . . .
    gets "lost" in defense scheme - like he's got
    his own game plan . . .he's got to learn his
    team scheme responsibilities and play those ,
    not what he "feels " . . .he's a senior now , had time to absorb how to play - get it or play
    for the scout team . . .other than cookie I liked what I saw from the WVU team . . .

  • mauldawg

    Go back and the area about the LBers. Golson did a very good job in his first start.

  • robert l henderson

    What about LB Brandon Golson? He disrupted the QB a couple time in the 2nd half when we finally decided to put a rush on the QB.

    • Diggs

      Yeah but we still didn't get dat push up da middle. We be n trouble against b12 competition if be having probs with div 2 talent.