The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

September 14, 2011

WVU in need of a fast start

Mountaineers visit Maryland Saturday

By Dave Morrison
Sports Editor

— A lot has been said about West Virginia’s tempo — or lack thereof — in the first half of last week’s 55-12 win over Norfolk State.

One thing is for sure: That tempo will have to happen — and happen fast — Saturday when No. 18 West Virginia (2-0) goes on the road for the first time to take on Maryland (1-0) in College Park at noon.

The game at Byrd Stadium will be televised by ESPNU.

WVU coach Dana Holgorsen admitted his team’s starts have been offensive, and not in the football sense.

“We haven’t started well offensively in two weeks,” Holgorsen said. “Defensively, we haven’t given up any touchdowns, but we’ve given up some drives in the first quarter.

“I don’t know what the yardage is in the first quarter, but I would imagine we’re getting slaughtered.”

In a manner of speaking.

In the opener against Marshall, it wasn’t bad. WVU outgained the Thundering Herd 90-50, but there was that special teams snafu on a punt 4:42 into the game that resulted in an 87-yard punt return, and WVU trailed 7-3 at one point.

Against Norfolk State, the Spartans of the Football Championship Subdivision outgained the Mountaineers by a 179-19 margin. And the Mountaineers had zero points in the first quarter.

Being outgained 229-109 (the total for WVU’s first two games) and scoring just three points can’t happen at Maryland.

“I know we’ve only scored three points in the first quarter, and when you’re on the road, you’ve got to try and start fast,’’ Holgorsen said. “They’ll be rowdy, and they’ll have a good crowd, and it’s a tough place to play. It’s hard to get the home crowd out of it, but starting fast is about the only chance you’ve got.”

Not that the coach is overly concerned with the start. He almost anticipated it.

“If we’re hitting our stride this time of the year, we’d either be a very, very experienced football team or we’d probably regress a little bit as the year goes on,” Holgorsen said.

He is looking for progress, and the fact that WVU has risen up in those two games and scored 86 points after the first quarter (and didn’t play a fourth against Marshall due to the weather) is moving forward.

“You’re always going one way or the other,” Holgorsen said. “If you’re status quo, then you’re going to get beat by somebody. It’s about constant growth. We have a young and inexperienced football team. We need to show constant improvement. The attitude has been good, and the effort has been good.

“Obviously, we need to get better in a lot of areas. The attitude and the effort has been good, and as long as that continues, we should be able to show improvement.”

— E-mail: demorrison@register-herald.com