Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Offensive Inconsistencies Dog Mountaineers

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Offensive Inconsistencies Dog Mountaineers

Article excerpt

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- The West Virginia offense still is searching for myriad answers at the midpoint of the season.

Branded as an offensive genius, coach Dana Holgorsen has been left scratching his head, trying to conjure the proper equation to jolt the once-prolific Mountaineers offense, now averaging 24 points per game, back to life. West Virginia ranks 80th out of 125 Division I teams with 392.8 yards per game.

It's unfamiliar territory for Holgorsen, but it's not altogether unexpected.

"We knew we were going to be a work in progress -- everybody knew it," Holgorsen said Tuesday. "I knew it, y'all knew it, our players knew it. We wanted it to come together quicker. I wish I was standing here after six games saying that we know who we are, where we're at and where we're going, but that's just not necessarily the current situation."

At the heart of the issue is a bothersome question, one that offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson likened to the "What came first, the chicken or the egg?" puzzler: can the Mountaineers offense find its feet without first resolving the quarterback question?

A year ago, that wasn't a concern. Geno Smith was a third-year starter, etching his name beside Pat White atop nearly every quarterback category in the West Virginia record books.

Exit Smith and All-American receivers Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey, and the Mountaineers were left with an effectively empty offensive cupboard.

Six weeks into the season, West Virginia (3-3, 1-2 Big 12) has started three quarterbacks for two games apiece. Each quarterback had an impressive, victorious debut, was crowned the starter for the following weekend and came away with a perfectly forgettable second effort.

With redshirt junior Clint Trickett (shoulder) and redshirt freshman Ford Childress (pectoral) nursing injuries, it's not clear who is the No. 1 quarterback.

"I'm not prepared to say that Clint is our quarterback because Ford didn't do anything to lose the job," Holgorsen said.

In mid-August, Holgorsen was asked whether he would platoon quarterbacks to start the season. His response: "I've never done it and don't plan on doing it."

Yet, whether due to injuries or inexperience, he has done it. …

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