The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Breaking News

Latest Sports

September 15, 2013

West Virginia offense is no passing fancy

Despite improved numbers vs. Georgia State, offensive coordinator unhappy with ‘Air Raid’

West Virginia’s performance in Saturday’s 41-7 win over Georgia State looked a little more like a Dana Holgorsen offense.

After averaging just 15.5 points and 398 yards of offense in the first two games — a 24-17 win over William & Mary and a 16-7 loss at Oklahoma — WVU’s numbers against the Panthers were a little more on par with the Holgorsen norm. The Mountaineers scored 41 points and ended the game with 604 yards of total offense. Of those yards, 359 came through the air, as Holgorsen’s attack lived up to its “Air Raid” nickname.

After Saturday’s game, though, offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson wasn’t exactly gushing over his team like Lou Holtz analyzing Notre Dame. In fact, he sounded a little more like Bobby Knight after losing a tournament game on a controversial foul call.

“It was a frustrating game overall,” said Dawson, who was the offensive coordinator at Millsaps and Stephen F. Austin before joining Holgorsen, his former position coach at Wingate, in Morgantown. “For some reason, we spit and sputter, drop balls, leave (defenders) wide open running through gaps and things like that. Statistically, we put some things together and won the game, so I guess that was positive.”

The bulk of Dawson’s concern wasn’t with the running game, which averaged 5.8 yards per carry and netted 245 yards, but instead with the aerial assault. Redshirt-freshman Ford Childress, making his first collegiate start, threw for 359 yards and three touchdowns, but he also threw 17 incomplete passes — some his fault and some drops by the WVU wide receivers.

“(Georgia State) did a pretty good job of stopping the run and making us throw the football,” said Dawson. “We’ve got to have somebody step up and make a play. Catching it would be a good start.

“We just shot ourselves in the foot. They stack the box, so we throw a vertical and we drop it. Those plays need to be routine, and they’re not right now. It’s all confidence. We just have to make a couple to build confidence. We did make a few, but we’ve got to be able to make more.”

Part of that is getting the right guys on the field at the right times. Looking to jumpstart the offense, Holgorsen and Dawson started Mario Alford and Ronald Carswell Saturday, moving Daikiel Shorts and KJ Myers into backup roles.

Myers ended up leading the team with six catches, and Shorts caught five for a team-best 88 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

“It’s frustrating,” said Holgorsen of the inconsistent performances. “We’re identifying the guys we can trust and the guys we can’t trust. We’re identifying the guys that know their roles and the guys that don’t know their roles. We’ll continue to do that over the course of the next eight weeks.”

Finding the right quarterback is also critical. Junior Paul Millard won the three-man battle to earn the starting position in the opener against William & Mary, beating out another junior, Florida State transfer Clint Trickett. Millard played all but two series in that game and the entire four quarters in the loss to Oklahoma.

The competition was reopened after that defeat, and Childress ended up going from third team to starter. On Sunday, he was named the Athlon Sports National Freshman of the Week.

Childress is expected to start Saturday when WVU hits the road to take on Maryland at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Md.

“None of them have any experience,” said Dawson. “Right now, we’ve got to find out who can step up and make plays under pressure. (Childress) had a great week of practice. The kids rallied around him, and he did well in the game. So I’m pleased.”

Overall, though, Dawson is just about out of patience. But he’s confident the offense will eventually hit its stride.

“We haven’t done anything in the last few games that we haven’t done the last 15 years,” said Dawson, referring to his success at Stephen F. Austin and elsewhere and Holgorsen’s success at Texas Tech, Houston and Oklahoma State. “We’ve just got to have some people step up and start making plays on the football.”

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

1
Text Only
Latest Sports
  • 072514 Loomis The Greenbrier impresses Payton, Loomis

    When a deal was finalized on March 13 to bring the New Orleans Saints to The Greenbrier for three weeks of summer camp, Saints officials never doubted that the facility would be ready a little more than four months later for the first practice. INCLUDES VIDEO.

     

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • 072514 WV Open 1 Hess Former Mountain Lions playing well at Open

    In sports like basketball or football, home field advantage can be the ultimate difference maker. The same can be said in golf.

     

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • 072514 WV Open 2 Westfall Evans leads the field on rainy day at W.Va. Open

    The wind picked up, the rain started to fall and the scores were low at second round of the 81st West Virginia Open. INCLUDES TOUT VIDEO.

     

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • 072514 WVU Replacing Sims a challenge for WVU

    Every year, almost every college football preview publication available lists one key statistic that most use to evaluate the prospects for any given football team — returning starters.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • WVU rifle coach competing in native Scotland

    West Virginia University rifle coach John Hammond is competing in the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games in his native Scotland.

    July 24, 2014

  • 072414 WV Open.jpg Familiarity with Cobb helps Hess take lead

    It wouldn’t be a stretch to say Kenny Hess is comfortable playing the Cobb Course at Glade Springs Resort.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Golf and motocross are Jude’s passions

    Motocross and golf have very little in common.

    July 24, 2014

  • WVU’s Worley clear starter at cornerback

    There were few bright spots in West Virginia University’s 4-8 football campaign last year, and even fewer on the defensive side of the football, where the Mountaineers gave up more than 455 yards and 33 points per game.

    July 24, 2014

  • How to discover and love Major League Soccer

    When I began my soccer fandom following a missions trip to Brazil in 2000, I didn’t know what my next step was. I knew I loved watching the game, but there weren’t a lot of options for seeing it in the U.S. I knew of Major League Soccer — mostly from my friend and current FC Dallas beat writer Drew Epperley — but it was hard to find.

    July 24, 2014

  • Lindley, Tom.jpg Expectations too high for a rehabbing Woods

    Tiger Woods finished near bottom last weekend at Royal Liverpool, drawing out his drought of major tournament wins. Despite the disappointing showing, Woods' return to form remains a matter of when, not if.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

Saints Training Camp