2011 WVU Mountaineers Football: 5 Areas That Need Attention
Dana Holgorsen's debut as West Virginia's football coach didn't go exactly the way anyone expected.
While the offense was solid, it still lacked the explosiveness that everyone was expecting from a Holgorsen orchestrated attack.
Now, junior Geno Smith looked comfortable in the new offense and did a great job of spreading the ball around to his deep, talented receiving corps.
Of course, there was the crazy weather that resulted in more than four hours of delays, and eventually forced the game to be called early in the fourth quarter. No. 24 WVU was awarded the 34-13 victory about seven hours after the game started.
But it was far from a perfect outing for the Mountaineers, so if Holgorsen expects to lead WVU to a Big East championship there are five areas that need to be addressed quickly.
West Virginia's defense did a good job Sunday. But after last year's dominating unit, it's hard to watch the defense give up so many yards.
Now that Bruce Irvin is playing every down, fans want to see him cause more havoc. Irvin was relatively quiet against Marshall, but if you know defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel, he wasn't going to show off too much.
He won't again this week either.
Instead, Casteel is likely going to use more of his defensive packages against Maryland on Sept. 17.
4. Special Teams
WVU fans cringe when they start talking about the Mountaineers' special teams.
The good news from Sunday is speedster Tavon Austin ignited West Virginia with a 100-yard kickoff return for a score.
But the Mountaineers allowed an 87-yard punt return by Andre Booker to give Marshall an early 7-0 lead. They also struggled on kick coverage as well.
This used to be Bill Stewart's responsibility, and well, he didn't do much.
Now it's time to fix this glaring weakness.
3. Offensive Play Calling
There was a lot of hype surrounding Dana Holgorsen and what he would mean to WVU's offense. Fans were expecting the Mountaineers to roll up 60 or more points on their in-state rival Marshall.
It felt like Holgorsen was trying to please every single one of the 60,758 fans inside Mountaineer Field Sunday with every play he called. Even the trick plays appeared forced.
He should relax a bit now that he has the first win out of the way and he has a game Norfolk State this weekend.
2. Running Game
Freshman Andrew Buie has the potential to be another great WVU running back, but his debut was subpar.
Buie mustered just 30 yards on 15 carries, and he had a long of 11. So he was bottled up most of the game.
Vernard Roberts also had seven carries for 12 yards, but he did have a one-yard TD run just before the game was cancelled.
Holgorsen likes to use the running game. Just look at the way he used Kendall Hunter at Oklahoma State last year. He has to be worried about the effectiveness of the offense if the Mountaineers can't do more on the ground.
1. Offensive Line
The reason the running game is a question mark right now is because the offensive line doesn't fire off the ball to create holes for the backs.
The line resembled last year's weak group too much Sunday, especially on third and fourth-and-short. Holgorsen looked perplexed when his backs couldn't get enough push for one yard to extend a drive.
If WVU doesn't win the Big East this year, there's a good chance the offensive line will be the reason why.