The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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November 5, 2013

Holgorsen sees progress in Mountaineer offense

West Virginia’s offense isn’t going to be mistaken for the offenses head coach Dana Holgorsen put on the field when he was the offensive coordinator at Oklahoma State and Houston — or even WVU’s offense that put up record-setting numbers in 2012. But nine games into a 12-game season, Holgorsen believes he’s finally seeing some progress.

In the 30-27 overtime win over TCU last Saturday, the Mountaineers (4-5, 2-4 Big 12) scored 17 points in the fourth quarter alone. They put up 415 yards of total offense, including 148 rushing yards, against a Horned Frog defense widely considered to be among the stingiest groups in the conference.

Running back Charles Sims rushed for 154 yards and a touchdown and caught three passes for 30 yards and another score. Quarterback Clint Trickett shook off a pair of interceptions and showed some confidence in marching his team down the field.

It wasn’t the 70-point, 807-yard effort the Mountaineers put on display last year against Baylor, but it was a whole lot more pleasing to the coaches’ eyes than the 175-yard shutout against Maryland in September.

“It’s still a work in progress,” said Holgorsen Monday during the Big 12 Coaches Media Teleconference. “I feel like we’ve constantly been improving, and I think we improved last week. I expect our guys to work hard and improve this week, as well.”

WVU, though, could face another stiff challenge from Texas when it visits Milan Puskar Stadium for a 7 p.m. kickoff Saturday, in a primetime game on FOX.

The Longhorns (6-2, 5-0 in the Big 12) began the year with one of the league’s worst defenses. They gave up 40 and 44 points in back-to-back losses to BYU and Mississippi, and the 550 rushing yards that head coach Mack Brown’s team gave up against the Cougars was a school record.

Following the 44-23 loss to Ole Miss, though, Brown sent defensive coordinator Manny Diaz packing. He brought in former Syracuse head coach Greg Robinson — who had been a defensive coordinator for the Longhorns and at Michigan under Rich Rodriguez — and UT’s fortunes quickly changed.

Texas hasn’t lost since, going on a five-game winning streak. The defense is giving up fewer than 20 points per game and has gone from 108th to 63rd nationally in total defense, now giving up fewer than 400 yards per game.

“I’m going to have to go back into my offensive staff room and continue to try to find ways to put points on the board,” said Holgorsen, when reminded of those figures Monday. “They have tremendous experience and tremendous depth. We all understand how talented Texas is when you’re able to recruit the kids they’re able to recruit. It looks to me like their effort and energy has been increasing as the year goes on, and that probably has something to do with the confidence that’s been installed.”

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WVU kicker Josh Lambert was named the Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Week after knocking through the game-winner in overtime Saturday at TCU. Oklahoma State quarterback Clint Chelf was the Offensive Player of the Week, while Kansas State defensive end Ryan Mueller earned the defensive award.

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The Big 12 announced Monday that WVU’s Nov. 16 game at Kansas will begin at noon and be televised by Fox Sports Net.

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Mickey Furfari will be part of a book signing for his “Mickey’s Mountaineer Memories” books, both Volume 1 and Volume 2, on Thursday, Nov. 14, at Mon General Hospital in Morgantown from noon until 2 p.m. He will be joined by former WVU head coach Don Nehlen, who will sign his “Tales from the West Virginia Mountaineers Sideline” book, and Carolyn Peluso Atkins, who will sign her books “Living Life the West Virginia Way” and “Great Unexpectations: Lessons from the Hearts of College Athletes.” All of the books will also be available for purchase.

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

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