The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Latest Sports

August 22, 2013

Dawson still learning that numbers don’t equate to wins

Shannon Dawson never saw himself as an accountant, but there was a time in his life when he was obsessed with numbers.

When the West Virginia University offensive coordinator began his coaching career at Wingate in 2002 — and especially when he became an offensive coordinator for the first time in 2006 at Milsaps College — his goal was to turn heads with the numbers his offenses produced.

His goal was achieved when Division III Milsaps recorded more than 4,000 yards of offense in back-to-back seasons, and Dawson took it to another level at his next stop, Stephen F. Austin.

There, his team led the nation in passing offense in 2010 and was No. 6 in total offense, averaging nearly 450 yards per game on its way to the NCAA FCS playoffs.

Reunited with his old coach, WVU head coach Dana Holgorsen, who coached Dawson at Wingate, Dawson is learning that numbers don’t always win games. College football, he’s found out, isn’t an EASports video game where a team can drop back and throw downfield on every play.

“I threw the football 89 times one game,” said Dawson, reflecting on his development as a play caller. “But what I didn’t do is make the defense play honest. They knew when they went into a game that I was going to throw it. I wasn’t going to make you consistently stop the run.

“What we’ve done is learned to understand that what matters is who wins the game. (Holgorsen’s) kind of put my ego to the side a little bit. That doesn’t mean we can’t go a ton of yards. It’s an evolution of the offense that occurred, and I’ll give him the credit for that. Because it definitely wasn’t me.”

When the Mountaineers take the field for the first time on Aug. 31 at home against William & Mary, they’ll be breaking in a first-time quarterback, and they’ll have to find replacements for two of the top receivers in WVU history — Stedman Bailey and Tavon Austin.

What it will have, however, is a stable full of running backs. Dustin Garrison and Andrew Buie have both gone over 200 yards in a game wearing a WVU uniform, and Houston transfer Charles Sims was selected as the Big 12’s Newcomer of the Year.

Junior college transfer Dreamius Smith rushed for nearly 1,000 yards last year at Butler Community College, and freshman Wendell Smallwood averaged more than eight yards per carry in high school.

Dawson said the Mountaineers will take advantage of their strengths.

“There’s one thing that fluctuates in our offense,” he said. “The plays don’t change, but the emphasis on the plays do. It depends on the makeup of your team. You’re going to get in formations that are best suited for your personnel, and that’s what we’re doing.”

The ultimate goal now, Dawson promised, is improving just one number — the seven that WVU posted in the win column in 2012.

“We’re going to do whatever it takes to win the game,” said the Louisiana native. “If that means winning 31-28 or 14-7, we’re going to do that. We’re trying to figure out the weaknesses of the defense. If they’re playing down, we’re going to take a shot.”

One thing that won’t change is the tempo.

“We’re never going to get away from the background we have of playing fast at times,” said Dawson. “We will mix tempos up a bit more. When you play fast all the time, that’s pretty predictable too.”

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

Text Only
Latest Sports
  • 072314 brand Bradshaw or the field?

    If a betting window were set up on the Cobb Course at The Resort at Glade Springs for the 81st West Virginia Open Championship, which begins at 8 a.m. this morning, the most popular wager would probably be David Bradshaw against the field.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Holgorsen: WVU getting comfortable in new league

    Dana Holgorsen remembers the glory days of West Virginia University football — the ones that included conference championships and BCS bowl wins. In fact, he was part of one of those, leading the Mountaineers to a Big East championship and an Orange Bowl victory in his first season as head coach in 2011.

    July 23, 2014

  • 072314 justice Home sweet home away from home

    When Greenbrier owner Jim Justice was handed a copy of the Richmond Times-Dispatch Sunday, his eyes lit up like a Rockefeller Center Christmas tree on a cold December night.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • 072314 miners Miners take series with Paints

    The way the West Virginia Miners see it, they don’t have the luxury of planning for tomorrow.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • 072314 Legion.jpg Post 32 rips Parkersburg 19-3 in American Legion tournament

    The double play in baseball is said to be a pitcher’s best friend. If that is the case, an 11-run inning by the offense is a very close second.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • 072314 Gaddis.jpg Former Mountaineer standout Gaddis making career in MLS

    Philadelphia Union defender Ray Gaddis may consider Indianapolis his hometown, but make no mistake about it, the Mountain State will always have a place in his heart.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • WVU's Fleming signs with Yankees

    Second baseman Billy Fleming of the West Virginia University baseball team has signed a professional contract with the New York Yankees, foregoing his upcoming senior season.

    July 22, 2014

  • WVU to kickoff 2018 season against Tennessee in Charlotte

    The Charlotte Sports Foundation (CSF) announced Tuesday morning that it has secured a regular season college football game for the city of Charlotte pitting the University of Tennessee against West Virginia University.

    July 22, 2014

  • Beamer sees turnaround for Hokies

    Virginia Tech head football coach Frank Beamer painted a rosy picture of the Hokies’ prospects during Monday’s Atlantic Coast Conference Football Kickoff press conference in Greensboro, N.C.

    July 22, 2014

  • saints Picnic with the Saints

    The New Orleans Saints are coming to town, and fans will have the chance to share in the excitement at Picnic with the Saints this Saturday at the AdvoCare Sports Performance Center at The Greenbrier. INCLUDES UPDATED PRACTICE SCHEDULE.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

Saints Training Camp