After six games, or half the regular season the West Virginia University football team's record stands at 3-3 overall and 1-2 in Big-12 conference games. Head coach Dana Holgorsen has used three different quarterbacks and all three have posted a 1-1 record.
Every week the same question arises who will start the next game for Holgorsen, that's continuity.
Either Clint Trickett, or Ford Childress, will compete for the starting quarterback position and a starter will be named. The third quarterback in the mix, Paul Millard, is the forgotten man. He only gets game reps when Holgorsen pulls Trickett to work on their communication issues.
Trickett brings a veteran presence but still isn't sure if he is running Holgorsen's offense at WVU or the Florida State offense. From his perspective, Holgorsen has small hands and his signals are hard to read. Trickett not only has issues reading Holgorsen's hand signals, he doesn't have a complete grasp of Holgorsen's offense.
Trickett has shown grit as the starter even if he has no idea what play should be called against the defense he is seeing. He has played through a sore shoulder and taken a beating. I honestly feel for the guy. Still, I have to wonder if he had a better grasp of the communication signals and how to run the offense in general if that sore shoulder and the beating he is taking would exist.
Millard knows the offense and the hand signals that Trickett has such a hard time deciphering. The problem is Millard often appears to have the look of a deer in head-lights. With that look comes poor mechanics and improper foot-work, or happy feet. Never a good situation for any football player, particularly a quarterback.
Childress is still rehabbing a reported torn pectoral muscle but has a solid grasp of the offense and Holgorsen's hand signals despite the size of hands that generate those signals. If he could just throw a football the football team may have a long term starter. Then again, maybe not.
Why change quarterbacks because of a lack of communication, only to send the the communication challenged quarterback back into the game. By the sixth game of the season, if a quarterback hasn't gotten the signals from the sideline down, he isn't going to regardless of what is said on the sideline. Either the problem is severe enough to warrant a change, or it isn't.
If Trickett and Childress are hurt Millard should start. I doubt Holgorsen would ask a running back to play on a bad knee, or a receiver to try and catch passes with a sprained hand. It just doesn't make sense, where is the logic?
A quarterback with a bum shoulder that can't read the hand signals and doesn't know the offense is a better option than a healthy quarterback that has been in the system three years? Or, is Millard in Holgorsen's doghouse and the rest of the players, and fans, are paying the price. Perhaps that scared look on Millard's face has nothing to do with the opposing defenders and everything to do with the guy that has those small hands.
The offensive line is in flux, offensive line coach Ron Crook has made so many changes to the line-up most Mountaineer fans can no longer keep track who is starting or at what position. Crook has moved tackles to guard, center to guard, guard to center, just name the change and Crook has tried it.
As Holgorsen pointed out in his Tuesday press conference, if fans wanted to witness an effective offensive line just take a look at Baylor. Fans did and came away with the realization that is what an offensive line is supposed to look like. It would be nice if fans could now witness that same performance from the guys wearing the flying WVU helmets.
I understand the need to shuffle players on the offensive line on occasion due to injury or one player out-performing another in practice. However, what happened to the offensive line that started the second game of the season in Norman? That group went toe-to-toe with the Sooner defense and more than held their own.
Even the receiver position has been in flux for the majority of the first half of the season. Due both to injury and changes to the depth chart. To be fair to the receivers they have all started to show consistent improvement. Drops are still a problem on occasion and separation from defenders is not what Mountaineer fans are used to seeing.
The only position that has not been in flux for the past six games is the running back position. Charles Sims is the starter, Dreamius Smith is the second back, and Wendell Smallwood is the third back to enter games and receive opportunities. That appears to be continuity.
Name the one position on the offense that Mountaineer fans are happy with the effort this season, running-back. The only position on offense with a consistent depth chart and outlined role for each player. Better play by the offensive line would result in far better numbers for the running-backs
Could it just be coincidence? No.
I respect Dana Holgorsen, and his coaching staff, for their willingness to accept responsibility for the overall ineptitude the Mountaineer offense has demonstrated this season.
Injuries and poor play have contributed to the lack of continuity for the football team. Those injuries are not the primary contributor. Holgorsen's answer to the continuity issues on offense is to continue doing the same things that they've been doing.
By definition, that is continuity. Although, that form of continuity will likely garner the same on field results that have generated that 3-3 record. There is an old adage, insanity is doing the same things over and over and expecting a different result.
Last year the cause of the five game losing streak was attributed to a lack of leadership on the team. This year the cause of two embarrassing loses are due to issues with continuity. Nice words, and obvious reasons why a football team would perform poorly in games.
With all due respect, continuity and leadership begins with the head coach.
The players on offense are inexperienced and many haven't even completed their first full year in Holgorsen's program. Inconsistent play is the hallmark of a an inexperienced team. Certainly a valid reason for the performance issues witnessed to date.
So too, is a bull-headed coach.
With the off week Holgorsen's players have time to heal their injuries and rest. The coaches have an opportunity to regroup and get some much needed rest too. Kick-off for the Texas Tech game will come soon enough.
Holgorsen is 2-2 as head coach at WVU after an open week, there's that continuity again.