The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

September 8, 2011

Holgorsen: Blocking was subpar

By Dave Morrison
Sports Editor

— Obviously, West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen was not 100 percent pleased with his offense coming out of the team’s season-opening 34-13 win over Marshall.

Despite constantly crediting Marshall, or, specifically, Marshall’s defense, for two days, Holgorsen admitted Tuesday that there is improvement to be made by the No. 19 Mountaineers.

After the running game netted a paltry 42 yards on 26 attempts (1.6 yards per carry), Holgorsen said he wasn’t pleased.

“Marshall’s got some good players,” the coach said. “They’ve got good coaches. Are we happy with it? No, we’re not happy with it. It didn’t go the way we wanted it to. I’m not surprised. It’s a work in progress, and we’re going to do some specific things to correct it.”

Blocking was once again the focal point of his displeasure after watching the game tape. But not necessarily where you’d think.

“Probably the biggest disappointment I had offensively was the blocking,” Holgorsen said. “When you think about blocking, all you think about is the offensive line. That’s not necessarily the truth.”

The problem was elsewhere, too, the first-year coach said.

“Some of the running game problems were the running backs not blocking for the other backs,” Holgorsen said. “Some of the running game problems were inside receivers not blocking for running backs. The others’ blocking was just as bad as the offensive line’s blocking. The name of the game offensively is blocks. We have to do a better job with that.”

He was particularly displeased with the blocking from those in the backfield.

“It was spotty at best,” Holgorsen said. “We’ve got two different types of running backs — smaller guys that carry the ball and the bigger guys that block for them. All of them need to pass-protect. All of them need to run-block. When you play that many backs, they’re always going to be in a position where they’ll have to hold their own. It was subpar.”

Freshman running back Andrew Buie’s availability for Saturday’s 1 p.m. kickoff with Norfolk State at Milan Puskar Stadium is still not known. He was hurt in the second quarter of the Marshall game.

That could change, but if not, that will mean more carries for true freshmen Vernard Roberts and Dustin Garrison and sophomore Trey Johnson.

“Garrison had a rough game, but he’ll get better,” Holgorsen said. “Vernard played well. That last drive we had (on which Roberts scored on a 1-yard run), he ran hard. He’s very capable. We’ll get Trey (Johnson) back, and he’ll be capable of carrying the ball.”

Holgorsen said the problem would be fixed.

“One is being targeted right and being in your position for certain plays, which is coaching, and the other thing is getting these guys to give effort and wanting to do it,” Holgorsen said. “It was very subpar, and we’ll get it corrected this week.”

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