Guest contributor Jeff Woollard chimes in again. Thanks Jeff!
Any member of Mountaineer Nation would be hard pressed to find ample reason for optimism for the coming 2013 football season; worries abound for the Old Gold and Blue. In fact, there is growing sentiment that head coach Dana Holgorsen may need more than Red Bull to keep his coaching seat from becoming too hot to, well, sit in.
If Holgorsen is concerned about the temperature of that coaching seat, he isn’t showing any signs of it.
Amazing what 6-months, 6 losses, and a plethora of coaching changes will do to fan expectations and perceptions. Expectations and perceptions that might be the problem.
Is it all of the changes on offense, defense, the quarterback derby, or any combination of those the biggest cause for concern? What can the West Virginia University football faithful use to accurately gauge their expectations and perceptions for the coming season?
Since Holgorsen was promoted to the lone offensive coordinator at Texas Tech in 2006 his offenses have never accumulated less than 5800-yards in a season, and a scoring average of 37.38 points per game.
During that same span Holgorsen’s offense has led their respective team to a bowl game and produced a 5-2 record in those bowl appearances. Holgorsen has used different coaches, quarterbacks, offensive lines, running backs, and receivers to generate those bowl appearances, and that bowl record.
Over the last seven seasons those offenses have averaged 6,757 total yards per season and scored 40.34 points per game. Should the 2013 Mountaineer football team accumulate just 75% of those averages they will amass 5,067 total yards and average 30.25 points per game.
The last time a WVU football team averaged over 30-points per game and failed to play in a bowl game was 1924, and WVU has never posted a losing record. Since Art Lewis’ 1953 Sugar Bowl team WVU has played in a bowl game every season they have eclipsed the 30-point per game average.
The key to the 2013 season isn’t Holgorsen and his offense, that should be considered a constant.
Still, there are all those coaching changes to the offense. Add the graduation of the all time passing yardage leader and the top two all time receiving yardage leaders and it seems concern is all that remains for WVU fans.
In 2010 WVU fielded one of the best defenses in the history of Mountaineer football, by the 2012 season the defense had become the worst defense in that same history. To say changes were needed is the understatement of all understatements.
The WVU defense ranked 109 in total defense, 115 in scoring defense, 119 in pass efficiency defense, and 118 in pass defense. The lone bright spot, if you can call it that, the rushing defense was ranked 60. The best part of the 2012 defense was middle of the pack.
The real question facing Holgorsen and his offense, and defense, for 2013 isn’t just the ability or experience of his players, or the ability of his coaching staff; it’s not nearly as measurable. The key is what was missing from the 2012 version of the WVU football team.
The book on beating the 2012 WVU football team was to punch them in the mouth; Holgorsen’s team had a glass jaw.
Unfortunately, there are not any statistics to predict the willingness of a team to fight back. That willingness must be a given and is generally dictated by the offensive line and the defense. The key to the 2013 season does not rest on Holgorsen’s offense, or on a quarterback, receiver, or running back.
Ron Crook’s offensive line and Keith Patterson’s defense need to set the tone for the 2013 football team. Regardless the offensive scheme blocking and tackling still win the day in football, at any level.
Ironically, the Mountaineer football team needs to learn how to brawl, they need to stand their ground and punch back.
For Holgorsen, and his football team, to move forward they must look back.
WVU was once known as a physical football team any team that faced the Mountaineers knew they were in for a hard-nosed physical game. It was that physical style that was missing in 2012 and must be found for the 2013 season.
Statistically, the last two seasons under Holgorsen are two of the best seasons in WVU football history. Statistics alone are not going to produce another winning season and bowl appearance for Holgorsen and his team.
So, what expectations should members of Mountaineer Nation have for the coming season? That Holgorsen’s football team has heart and a willingness to look their opponents in the eye. Just do not expect to find the answer in the stat sheet, it will be easy to see during the games.
Strange that the thing that made Mountaineer Nation in it’s rise to national prominence is the very thing that is needed now, pride.