By Travis Stone
When Dana Holgorsen was hired by WVU as the offensive coordinator in 2010, Mountaineer Nation knew the reputation he had for creating explosive offenses. Holgorsen was given the label ‘head coach in waiting’ by then Athletic Director Oliver Luck and was slated to take over in 2012. Unpleasant circumstances developed and he was immediately appointed as the new WVU head coach when Bill Stewart resigned.
During Coach Holgorsen’s first season in 2011, the Mountaineers were every bit as exciting as advertised. Geno Smith, Tavon Austin, and Stedman Bailey led WVU to a Big East Championship and a record setting Orange Bowl victory over Clemson. The offense scored 37.6 PPG, which was the 13th best in college football.
WVU would enter the Big 12 Conference in 2012, and appeared to be a contender with all of their returning talent along with Holgorsen’s familiarity with the teams in the conference. WVU found instant success starting the season at 5-0, but things went downhill from there. The Mountaineers would finish out the season 2-6, ending with a painful loss to Syracuse in the Pinstripe Bowl and a 7-6 record.
The offense was strong throughout the season as it averaged 39.5 PPG, good for 9th in NCAA. The defense proved to be vulnerable though, with 15 first time players seeing time on the field due to injuries.
In their second year in the Big 12, the Mountaineers endured one of their worst seasons in recent memory. Things simply did not seem to click for the Mountaineers in 2013 and they finished with a record of 4-8. Replacing the departing All Americans on offense proved to be a task that WVU just couldn’t handle.
The quarterback position was a huge question mark as their was no stability throughout the season. The offense was Holgorsen’s worst, only averaging 26.3 PPG, which put them at 79th in the NCAA.
WVU finally get things back on track this past season and showed signs of the quick strike capability displayed early in Holgorsen’s time at WVU. Clint Trickett, Kevin White, and Mario Alford were the new big 3 at WVU and reinvigorated the Mountaineer offense. WVU finished the season with a 33.5 PPG which ranked 36th overall in the NCAA.
Despite a loss to Texas A&M in the Liberty Bowl with a backup QB at the helm, The Mountaineers posted a much improved record of 7-6.
2015 is a pivotal season for Holgorsen at WVU, as the Mountaineers have adjusted to the Big 12 and landed the recruits that the coaching staff needs to run their scheme effectively. Even with all those aspects in the Mountaineers favor, there are question marks that could go against WVU this season.
The quarterback position is obviously primary, and there appears to be a battle in spring practice. Replacing White and Alford at WR will not be easy, but there are returning and incoming players that could make it possible.
Few of the pundits and prognosticators predict a finish in the top four of the Big 12 for WVU in 2015. But if the offensive line play is solid and a new star emerges at QB, that could change.
Edited by Michael Walker