The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

College Sports

September 28, 2011

Holgorsen still searching for answers

With one game left until conference play begins, West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen is still in search mode.

He’s searching for a running game. More precisely, somebody to carry the load.

In four games, No. 22 WVU has 112 carries for 418 yards.

And he’s searching for someone — anyone — to make a sack or recover a fumble.

In those four games, WVU has one sack (by Bruce Irvin in the season opener against Marshall), and the Mountaineers have yet to recover a fumble.

It’s something Holgorsen wants to get straightened out before the conference season starts.

WVU will have one more game to do that, hosting Bowling Green at 3:30 p.m. Saturday. The game will be televised locally on ROOT Sports.

Dustin Garrison, who had a good performance in the second half of the LSU game, will likely get the start, but Holgorsen said that would depend on practice during the week.

Andrew Buie, who missed the LSU game with an injury, is expected to be back this week.

“We’re searching for guys that are every-down backs, which we don’t have yet,” Holgorsen said Tuesday during his press conference. “Dustin (Garrison) came in last week and gave us a half of really good football. His production in one half of football was as good of a performance we’ve had in one half this year.”

Garrison rushed for 46 yards and a score and had four receptions for 26 yards.

“When our first team goes out (Tuesday), I imagine Dustin will be there,” Holgorsen said. “Whether that’s the case tomorrow, Thursday or Friday, it depends on practice. He played a good half against LSU, which is why we kept him in there. We’ve said competition and how much people will play is based off of what’s happening in the game and how it looks once they’re in there. When Dustin was in there, he looked good. He made some good runs without a lot of space. We kept him in there, and he finished out the game.”

Another concern is the fact that WVU has struggled to get heat on the opposing quarterback or recover a fumble. WVU had three interceptions at Maryland but hasn’t come up with a turnover at home.

“One thing we stress to our defense is to make plays on the ball — whether it’s in the air, or whether it’s stripping them of the football,” Holgorsen said. “They haven’t done it yet; we’ve got three picks in four games, but we’ve got zero fumble recoveries. That’s got to get better.”

Another mystery is the play of Bruce Irvin and Julian Miller, seen as key cogs on the defense entering the season.

In four games, Irvin has had 13 tackles, 4.5 tackles for a loss and the team’s lone sack.

Miller has nine tackles and a tackle for a loss.

“I don’t know what’s going on,” Holgorsen said. “We’ve got to keep working at it. Whatever the reasons are, they’ve got to overcome them. If there’s frustration on where the effort level isn’t where it needs to be, then we need to figure out how to get the effort.”

It’s something the coaching staff has talked about.

“It’s the same guys, the same scheme, same kids, but that’s just how it is,” Holgorsen said. “Maybe people are keying on them more or maybe the schemes are built in to the point they can’t get to the ball, but regardless what the excuses are, our job is to put them in the best position to be successful. Their job as players is to work hard and be ready to play the game and give it everything they’ve got.”

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