By Cam Huffman
Dana Holgorsen knows a little something about offense. In his two years as offensive coordinator at Texas Tech, his teams ranked No. 8 and No. 3 nationally in total offense. During two seasons in the same job at Houston, his team averaged 563 yards of offense per game, and in one season as the offensive coordinator at Oklahoma State, Holgorsen’s Cowboys led the nation in total offense.
Since taking over at West Virginia as the head coach prior to the 2011 season, Holgorsen’s teams have rewritten the offense record books in nearly every category.
So far this season, though, that explosiveness has been missing. Maybe it’s because so are Geno Smith, Stedman Bailey and Tavon Austin, but WVU ranks 107th nationally in scoring offense with just 31 points in two games. That ranks even behind this week’s opponent, Georgia State, which is in its first season at a Division I Football Bowl Subdivision member. In total offense, WVU ranks 73rd with 398 yards per game.
But as the Mountaineers (1-1) prepare to welcome the Panthers (0-2) to Morgantown Saturday at noon, Holgorsen is still confident this year’s group can put up the same type of numbers his teams have produced in the past.
“We have the potential to be better than we were last year, as crazy as that sounds,” said Holgorsen. “Does that mean we are better than last year, or are going to be better than last year? No. It just means we have the potential.”
In fact, Holgorsen said the offense had more opportunities in the passing game this year than it did a year ago against the Sooners, when WVU threw for 320 yards and four touchdowns.
“We had more open guys than we did last year,” he said. “We just didn’t do a good job of getting them the ball on those plays.”
That’s a big reason why the depth chart for this week’s game, released by WVU Monday night, looks a little different than previous weeks.
Mario Alford and Ronald Carswell have moved into starting spots at wide receiver, replacing Ivan McCartney and Dakiel Shorts, who were in those positions a week ago. A now healthy Kevin White has replaced KJ Myers in the lineup.
Senior Pat Eger has also moved into a starting spot at center, ahead of Tyler Orlosky.
“I think we are closer on offense, but I accept full responsibility for seven points,” said Holgorsen. “I don’t care who we are playing, it’s embarrassing.
“A lot of people talk about how talented we are. Even guys on our team talk about how talented we are. We need to prove that. We need to make some plays. You need to make plays when you are put into those situations, and if you don’t we will try and put some other guys in those situations. We will get better offensively.”
With changes being made on the offensive line and at wide receiver, the obvious question is whether there will be a move made at quarterback after junior Paul Millard barely completed 50 percent of his passes against the Sooners, threw an interception and lost a fumble.
“We can’t put two of them out there at once, so someone’s name has to be called,” said Holgorsen, refusing to name a definite starter. “They’ll have to go out, and we’ll see how they do. The difference with where we are at now is that (redshirt-freshman Ford Childress) will have reps. He hasn’t had reps in the past three weeks.”
Childress was ruled out of the competition for the starting spot during the final week of the preseason. Millard won the job over junior Florida State transfer Clint Trickett and started the first two games. Trickett took six snaps in the first half in the opener against William & Mary and hasn’t seen the field since.
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