West Virginia University head football coach Dana Holgorsen is finding out what it feels like to be on the wrong side of a high octane offense. The Mountaineers loss to Baylor on Saturday dropped their season record to 3-3.
Forget that two of those three losses are as embarrassing as it gets for Mountaineer fans. To make matters worse, one of those losses was to Maryland who suffered an embarrassing loss of their own on Saturday. Florida State hung 63 points on the same Terrapin defense that Holgorsen's offense couldn't score a point against. The Seminole defense shut-out the high powered Maryland offense too.
What Mountaineer fans saw against Baylor was the offense they thought their head coach was bringing with him to Morgantown.
To be fair, on Saturday night it certainly looked like there wasn't a defense in the FBS that could have slowed the Bear offense. Mountaineer Nation is left to ponder the question, was the Baylor defense truly that amazing or is the Mountaineer defense that bad? With six conference games remaining and more of those potent Big-12 offense on the schedule fans will get their answer soon enough.
Baylor made Holgorsen's team look slow on offense and defense, Mountaineer defenders couldn't catch the Baylor players and offensive players couldn't create separation from their defenders. Baylor was the team that was better prepared physically, technically, and mentally.
With a week off what expectations should Mountaineer fans hold for the remainder of the season?
The next opponent for Holgorsen's team is Texas Tech in just under two weeks. The Red Raider offense is the best, and highest rated, offense remaining on the schedule. WVU defensive coordinator Keith Patterson's unit has time to regroup and lick it's wounds, both literally and figuratively.
Communication continues to be a major problem for the Mountaineer offense. Particularly between Holgorsen and quarterback Clint Trickett.
Holgorsen and offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson need to go back to the drawing board and find a way to improve those communication problems. However, even improved communication can't fix the obvious issues the offensive line demonstrated, again, Saturday night. Baylor controlled the line of scrimmage and it didn't change until the Bears began playing their reserves.
Until last night the Mountaineer defense had played admirably this season and was a constant on the football team. The only other constant for the WVU football team on the season is the inability of the offensive line to open holes for the running game and protect the WVU quarterback from pressure.
The Mountaineer offense is a work in progress and there is certain to be lingering issues as the season continues, that is expected. What is hard for fans of the WVU football team to accept is the lack of effort that the offensive line appears to demonstrate. If it isn't a lack of effort, then it is a lack of talent and ability; the results of their performance are there for everyone to see.
Holgorsen believes the biggest issue facing his offense is communication, I disagree. I believe the biggest issue facing his offense is the performance of his offensive line. While Patterson is attempting to make Mountaineer opponents one dimensional and easier to defend. The WVU offensive line allows those same opponents to do the same.
Once those opponents take away the Mountaineer running game the offense doesn't become one dimensional, it becomes much less.
Ironically, the one bright spot for the football team against Baylor was the play of the special teams. Certainly a positive going forward. Still, expecting that improved performance every week taxes a fans faith.
Actually, the play of the football team in general is taxing for Mountaineer Nation. The week off allows fans the ability to regroup and re-affirm their faith that a brighter future is on the horizon. The most recent past has been the craziest of reality shows; shows that I'd prefer to not see again.
The Mountaineer football team is banged up physically and mentally, so too is it's fan base. The feeling the Baylor game left in the pit of my stomach still hasn’t gone away, no doubt a malady prevalent throughout Mountaineer Nation.
On the Saturday after next the football team and it's fans will be ready to give it another go. The Red Raiders were the first Big-12 team to lay waste to Mountaineer Nation and it's expectations, and the beginning of the nose dive the football program has taken in the last year.
Since beating Texas in Austin last season Holgorsen and his offense have been embarrassed by Texas Tech, Kansas State, Syracuse, Oklahoma, Maryland, and Baylor.
I imagine that could be called a communication problem, it could be called many other things too.