The 2013 season was not great for West Virginia, and the program took and needed time to get back on track. From a distance, one that’s all but gone now with players reporting today and practice beginning tomorrow, it would appear the Mountaineers again have all four wheels on the road.
Does the defense need to identify starters and establish depth? Yep. But are there options? There are many, and only a few are freshmen. The quarterback must be more accurate and efficient, but is he surrounded by talent? It’s as good as it’s been since the first Big 12 season, and if we’re talking about overall quality, it’s likely better.
Yet the Mountaineers find themselves in an interesting predicament. They just have to score more to win more in the Big 12, and that might require a bit of a cultural change as Dana Holgorsen eyeballs a big number.
WVU made gains on offense the past two seasons with the running game, the proper use of the strengths of the roster, which were the offensive linemen and running backs. WVU averaged 26.3 points per game in 2013 and 34 points per game last season.
But Holgorsen says — emphatically — that 34 isn’t good enough. And he’s right.
WVU was sixth in the Big 12 in points per game last season. Four teams averaged at least 42. Holgorsen is 14-3 when he scores 42 or more. Last season, nine teams lost when scoring at least 35 in Big 12 play, as many as the previous two years combined and as many as in 2012 alone.
In his four years of Big 12 games, Holgorsen is 8-6 when scoring 35 or more. Across the same 36 games, where Holgorsen is 15-21, there are 11 losses where WVU would have won if it had scored 42.
So, how does that change? Do what you do, right? Not really. The offensive line is going to be very good, but the road forks there. Watch the Mountaineers turn back the clock.
“I feel like we need to get back to our roots just a little bit more,” he said.
He’s looked around and seen not just an offense that will need a junior college transfer and at least one true freshman to help senior Rushel Shell in the running game, but also nine Big 12 schools that return a starting quarterback. His is one, and Skyler Howard is surrounded by receivers that excite him and Holgorsen.
“I feel like we need to throw it a little bit better in order to get that extra touchdown,” Holgorsen said. “We were at 35 points per game. We’ve got to get to 42.”