The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Latest Sports

September 7, 2013

WVU looking for a more complete performance tonight against Sooners

West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen saw some things he liked in the Mountaineers’ 24-17 win over William & Mary last week to open the 2013 football season. He just didn’t see enough of them.

Tonight at 7 p.m., when the Mountaineers (1-0) step onto Owen Field in Norman, Okla., to face No. 16 Oklahoma (1-0) in front of 85,000 fans and a FOX television audience, the third-year coach knows he’ll need more of a complete performance if he hopes to repeat history and knock off the Sooners, just as the last WVU team that made the trip did in 1982.

This year’s Oklahoma team is much different than the one that came to Morgantown last year and won in a 50-49 classic. The defense has been totaling revamped — partly because of Tavon Austin’s 344-yard rushing performance in that game — and the offense — which was more of a pro-style passing attack last year with Landry Jones at quarterback — has taken on a feel of the Barry Switzer days at OU with option football and a quarterback who likes to run.

Freshman Trevor Knight beat out Blake Bell for the starting job, and last week in a win over Louisiana-Monroe, he rushed for 103 yards, averaging nearly eight yards per carry, and threw for three touchdowns. He completed just 11 of 28 passes, though, and tossed an interception.

“He can run,” said Holgorsen. “He’s a talented guy. His completion percentage wasn’t very good, but when I watched the tape, he’s pretty good. He can throw.

“He’s a talented quarterback, and he’s going to get better and better. They’re going to rely on him to make plays in the run and passing games. Hopefully he doesn’t get things figured out this week. I would anticipate him figuring things out and being a very good quarterback for Oklahoma.”

WVU has its own quarterback concerns. Junior Paul Millard, who got the nod over Florida State transfer Clint Trickett in the opener, was efficient last week but not spectacular. He threw for 237 yards but tossed only 25 passes, a low number compared to the eye-popping totals that Geno Smith put up a year ago.

Part of that is because of the Mountaineers’ strength in the running game — Houston transfer Charles Sims, the Big 12 Newcomer of the Year, rushed for over 100 yards in his Mountaineer debut, and there’s plenty of depth with junior college transfer Dreamius Smith, freshman Wendell Smallwood and junior Dustin Garrison all in the mix — but Holgorsen does want to see more balance.

“I’d like to throw the ball a lot more than we did,” he said. “We’re talking about throwing the ball 30 percent of the time. That’s embarrassing. We’re going to try to correct that — that’s for certain. I don’t care much about stats, but we have to be more balanced.”

Things may look different, but Holgorsen — who coached in the Big 12 at Texas Tech and Oklahoma State before coming to WVU — knows there’s one thing that won’t change.

“It’s still Oklahoma,” he said. “The atmosphere is rowdy and it’s loud. The people are right on top of you. They’re a lot like Oklahoma State’s venue. They have a winning tradition. We respect our opponent just like we always do, and we’ll go to Norman and try to win.”

— E-mail: chuffman and follow on Twitter @CamHuffmanRH.

Text Only
Latest Sports
  • 042014 old white Happy birthday to The Old White

    As Greenbrier owner Jim Justice proudly stood behind the podium on the first tee box addressing a crowd at the 100th anniversary of the historic Old White TPC Course, a surprise guest emerged from the bushes by the tennis center.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • 042014 bubba Watson becoming a West Virginian

    Greenbrier owner Jim Justice was glued to the television a week ago today, watching Bubba Watson try to chase down his second green jacket at Augusta National Golf Club.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • 042014 spartans LOCAL ROUNDUP: Spartans win Spring Break Wooden Bat Classic

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • St. Joe’s Lewis named 2014 High School Coach of the Year

    Huntington St. Joseph girls basketball coach Shannon Lewis has made a habit of celebrating success in Charleston over the last few years.

    April 19, 2014

  • 041914 old white Old White to celebrate 100 years

    The home of The Greenbrier Classic will be having a birthday today, and the celebration should be something special.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Mullens, Pineville to meet in Anderson Memorial

    After many years away from the sideline, legendary Mullens High School coach Don Nuckols is returning to the game of basketball.

    April 19, 2014

  • 041914 D'Antoni Lakers mum on D’Antoni

    Mike D’Antoni was still the Los Angeles Lakers’ coach when he left their training complex to spend the Easter weekend out of town with his family.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • 041914 gibby WVU trying to find speed on defense

    Tony Gibson took over as West Virginia’s new defensive coordinator over the winter with the goal of trying not to do too much to rock the boat. As the fourth coach to hold that spot in as many years, the Van native — in his second stint as a Mountaineer assistant — knew that his players needed some stability.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • 041814 Sisler Diamond Classic continues today

    Fayetteville pitcher Kaitlyn Sisler pitched five innings of shutout softball as the Pirates beat Oak Hill 10-0 Wednesday in the Diamond Classic in Fayetteville.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • D’Antoni’s Lakers future still unclear

    With the Los Angeles Lakers season officially over — the Lakers beat the Spurs 113-100 Wednesday but finished 27-55 overall, the most losses in the club’s history and the franchise’s worst winning percentage since the Minneapolis Lakers in 1957-58 — Marshall fans will be keeping a close eye on what’s going on in Tinsel Town over the coming days.

    April 17, 2014