MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Bye weeks tend to be introspective times for football teams, ripe for self-scouting and deeper player evaluations.

West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen, whose reputation as an offensive guru has tapered this season, didn’t care for what he saw from the Mountaineers’ low-scoring attack.

“Offensively we’ve been subpar at everything, so there’s really no tendencies,” he said. “The only tendency is we’re really not great at anything.”

While splitting its first six games this season, WVU (3-3, 1-2) ranks next to last in the Big 12 in scoring at 24 points per game. Going hand-in-hand with that stat is a near-bottom performance in red-zone scoring (73 percent). Whereas West Virginia only has 15 red-zone chances, the rest of the league has an average of 22.

Holgorsen called WVU’s 29.2-percent third-down conversion rate “atrocious”—a fair description considering it ranks ninth in the 10-team conference and 111th out of 123 FBS teams.

But with a half-season to go (and the difficult part of the conference schedule behind them), the Mountaineers can reasonably expect an uptick in offensive efficiency. Part of that involves trimming down the playing rotation at offensive line and receiver, not to mention angling for stability at quarterback, where three players have each made two starts. Clint Trickett is in line to start his third game Saturday when No. 16 Texas Tech visits.

“We have identified as coaches kind of what we do well and what we don’t do well, what the direction of our offense is going, who needs to play, who doesn’t need to play,” Holgorsen said. “We haven’t been moving guys around as much.”

Despite WVU’s offense looking slower and clunkier than Holgorsen’s past units, the coach’s “get-good” philosophy doesn’t require extravagant improvements or wholesale strategic changes.

“You’ve just got to get good at routine plays, you’ve just got to get good at simple execution,” he said. “The more success you have doing that, you’d be surprised at how many routine plays turn into bigger plays.”

“We’ve got to gain some confidence. Once that happens it’s going to pick up some steam to be able to look a little bit better to the human eye, which means points.”

Inside linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski, the team’s top tackler through three games, is expected to return to action this week. He suffered a strained hamstring in the first half of the Week 4 loss at Maryland.

There will be no return this season for backup nose tackle Christian Brown, who sustained a weight room injury a few weeks ago. Holgorsen said Brown, a true sophomore, should qualify for a medical redshirt.

Backup outside linebacker Wes Tonkery expects to miss six weeks after breaking his thumb at Baylor, and reserve safety Ricky Rumph is questionable this week with an undisclosed injury.

Receiver Ivan McCartney suffered a concussion against Oklahoma State, missed the Baylor game and remains questionable. “I don’t know what’s going on there, if he’s going to be cleared to go or not,” Holgorsen said. “I don’t get into the whole head thing, concussion thing, obviously.”

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  • george

    yep--keep blaming the players----why are we paying you millions of dollars a year ???????????

  • JimJim

    Questions, Who will be the 4 conferences in the playoffs?

  • Rock Solid

    West Virginians are notorious for always having the inside scoop because they know somebody who knows somebody, who heard from somebody that such and such is going to happen. 99% of the time it is all crap! If Ollie has had enough of seeing how far the state has fallen both economically and culturally he will be gone. Why, because he is smart and doesn't need to baby sit a bunch of naysayers who gripe and moan but never have anything constructive to say except fire everybody. Most of these naysayers probably couldn't find their back side if you gave them a map!

  • David

    That's typical bandwagon fan behavior. If you think you can do a better job coaching than the staff we have now then go right ahead but since you can't best sit back and chill out. As a true fan who knows a lot of what's going on with this team Dana has my full support and once we have the pieces in place in the next couple years we will be a force to be reckoned with.

    • big tom

      I agree but how many yrs of poor recruiting will it take to get "the pieces in place"

  • eduardo

    Guardian, the ACC always looks great, until bowl season. WVU ALONE has more BCS wins than that entire conference. So squash that "point" right there. I will give u the Big 10 this year. Year in and year out the Big 12 is right up there at #2 or #3. That is what a power conference is, no one is going to dethrone the SEC. Did u forget where we came from? A conference as weak as Conf. USA. Most pre-season experts picked us 6-6, so we are on track to meet expectations. So, proud alum, who do you want to be our coach when you and the Wal-Mart Mountaineers run this man out of town?

    • Don

      Reference to "next" coach; how about doc Holiday? Contrary to Dana he has the Marshall program moving in the right direction.

    • Guardian

      Someone with proven head coaching experience - we are not in the position of having to train the latest "hot shot" coordinator to be a head coach, nor were we in 2010 - or 2007, for that matter. What we are not in the position of doing is trying to lure away a "big name" head coach - our pockets are just not that deep. But look in the ranks of the mid-major conferences - the MAC, CUSA, MWC, Sun Belt, and so forth. There are head coaches in those conferences doing great work with very little resources who would jump at the chance to come to WVU. And you don't have to teach them how to be a head coach.

    • Heart Shot

      Hey Eduardo remember Calvin Magee?

  • Gary

    Listening to our fans is like getting a root canal and a rectal exam simultaneously.

    • Chris

      Ha ha!

  • JaneM

    As this is a website for entertainment enjoyment making predictions I have mine as well... I am a true fan of WVU.... Don't have much to share with Fairweather fans as I see on this website, but there will be a big surprise for you Saturday afternoon... On Sunday morning the newspaper sports sections will read ''Mountaineers upset another top 25 in the big 12 Texas Red Raiders shocked''... By the way your best teams usually have a big senior class leadership we do not have that... That's why we are in a rebuilding year...

  • leroy j gibbs

    Old big 12-new big east

  • Jrizzle

    So....... I'll be that guy. Hearing lots of rumors from boosters that there may been some communication between Ollie and richrod.

    A) would Ollie actually humble himself enough to bring back someone from before his time?

    B) he's going to Texas anyway, so is that part of his exit strategy?

    C) how many of the fans that called rich every name in the book will cheer the minute we hang 60 on someone if he returns?

    Ready for the dramatic answers. Can't wait to see the different sides to this!

    • Don

      Hey, not all of us blamed Rich; until we know the truth I'm placing blame on the administration for not holding up their end of the bargain. While we're on that subject I ,along with a lot of others believe they (the admin) pushed Belein out to make room for Huggins. Another huge mistake.

    • MojoJojo

      Maybe Luck was feeling up RichieRod for possible interest in the Texas job, once Ollie gets there.

    • wvrefugee

      My sources in Texas tell me that OL is the odds on favorite to get the Texas job if they cannot get Bowlsby, which isn't going to happen. Just a matter of getting the numbers on paper for the Texas folks!

  • eduardo

    Richard. You are a fair weather fan and a fool. Not an alumnus are you? Don't understand what life is like in a power conference in a rebuilding year, you're dumb.

    • Guardian

      Have you watched any football outside the conference? We're not a power conference this year. SEC, as always, is the best. The ACC is actually resembling a football league. The Big Ten is resurgent and the Pac 12 has arguably taken the Big 12's place.

      Dana failed, thus far, to recruit for this year. He's known for two years he'd graduate his interior offensive line. He's known for two years Geno was graduating - along with Tavon and Stedman. And the people ready to step into those shoes are???? Crickets . . .

      Before you start - proud alum, so don't toss that stone at me.

      • Bryan

        His recruits are young and he has recruited well, his oldest recruiting class at this point is sophomores or red shirt freshman. Fickle fans I guess would rather be 6-0 or 5-1 in a bad conference rather than have patience and become a good team in a good conference. Will we contend every year for the title, no. But I feel over all with the amount and quality of players being recruited out future in the new conference will be fine.

        • Don

          Short answer is yes! I am a proud West Virginian who hates to see us ridiculed and shamed as the door mat of the big 12. We are in way over our heads and regardless of the money, some of us still have our dignity.

        • wes2003

          Recruited well? If he recruited well we'd have a pulse on offense.

          • Bryan

            Guess he's trying to rebuild, but just to throw out some BS like many others who have no clue here's one, in the last 20 years only one other coach led their team to a higher final ranking than Holgorsen has, and that was RR 3 times in a row #5-2005, #8-2006 and #7-2007. The next best finish and I repeat the last 20 years #20-2011 Holgorsen coach.

  • JimJim

    Don't worry, Dana you still get the money!

  • MojoJojo

    Hired an "offensive genius" to lead a team that had stars and now is reduced to:
    "Offensively we’ve been subpar at everything, so there’s really no tendencies,” he said. “The only tendency is we’re really not great at anything.”

    Wait a minute Dana. You are great at getting blasted every game. Don't sell yourself short.
    Drink a RedBull and get blasted again by TT.
    TT taught you what Big 12 football was all about last year. They are going to do it again this year.

  • MojoJojo

    Its pretty sad and bad that the team MVP is the punter. Who'd a thunk WVU football would suffer the collapse it has under Holgorsen? PIT-I-FUL.

  • tw eagle

    I hope the QB's and the recievers spent some "off" time getting to know each other ... timing and body language are paramount in gaining an edge over an opponent ... like WVU's previous opponents ,I expect TTU to smother the run, forcing the ball up top ... completing 75% of the 4/5 yard passes to clay/sims/slot receiver will open the run ... throwing to sims behind the line of scrimmage has been a waste of downs and yardage ... if WVU's gonna swing pass , do it past the line of scrimmage ... on D I expect Barber to spy the QB and the other MLB and one safety to split duty on Amaro ... Amaro is the "go to " when TTU needs a play ... Aamaro's a TE, and should be jammed at the line on passing plays, why let him loose into the secondary?

  • richard

    if they are lucky.....2-4 the rest of the way. if we are lucky as fans.....6-0 the rest of the way. offensive line needs to be scrapped and rebuilt, but can't do that. QB needs to be picked {trickett} and stick with him. running backs need to have some good games, {won't happen with that line}. receivers are so so at best. defense gave me some hope but now that hope is gone. coaching is.......wait a minute, is that what they call coaching? only true thing that we can hang our hats on as fans is nick o'toole. he has been tremendous. oh well, maybe next year.

    • William

      You Know the "Man in Black" Holgorsen can't stop saying 'YOU KNOW'
      I bet not many WVU fans are PROUD to have this guy head football coach
      He won't be in Morgantown much longer!

      • WVAtty

        Are you paying his 12 mil buyout, cause, you know, that's a lot of beautiful black shirts, you know?

      • Big Larry

        The Three most Famous words of head coaches...Huggins and Holgorsen:

        "I'LL FIX IT"....