Column - WVU needs to correct mistakes
Published: Thursday, September 8, 2011
Updated: Thursday, September 8, 2011 15:09
West Virginia moved up five spots to No. 19 in the AP Poll after its 34-13 win against Marshall.
But at this point in the season the rankings don't really mean much, especially when you're team didn't even get to play a full game of football.
WVU still has a lot of work to do to get to the level they need to be at to defeat some of the teams remaining on their schedule. And what team doesn't after just one game?
Still, LSU, who the Mountaineers play on Sept. 24 in Morgantown, defeated No. 3 Oregon 40-27 in its first game of the season. Granted, Oregon's star running back LaMichael James injured his ankle, but LSU head coach Les Miles' defense was fast, strong and smart, as they always seem to be. The Tigers got the win in front of over 87,000 fans at Cowboy Stadium.
LSU was stuck with the schedule it had, playing a team that made it to the national championship game in 2010, and came out and dominated the game.
WVU couldn't control the draw of playing Marshall, and it is a formidable opponent, but not close to the same level as Oregon. It shows where the two teams are at this early point in the season, and clearly the Mountaineers need the three weeks until this showdown to get better at head coach Dana Holgorsen's new offensive system.
I said in my column last week that the offense will greatly depend on how well the offensive line plays. Yes, Geno Smith was only sacked once against the Herd, but it wasn't just about sacks. The O-line couldn't give any room for its young running backs to get through a hole.
WVU's leading rusher was Andrew Buie, who ran 15 times for just 30 yards and got injured in the second quarter. Yes, all of the Mountaineer running backs that got the ball are freshmen, but 30 yards? Not acceptable.
Head coach Dana Holgorsen was critical of the team's blocking schemes and inability to allow for an effective run game. Also, Smith was able to get away from pass rushers with his feet on several plays, otherwise the offense might have looked worse.
"It was spotty at best," Holgorsen said of WVU's blocking. "We've got two different types of running backs— smaller guys that carry the ball and the bigger guys that block for them. All of them need to pass-protect. All of them need to run-block."
Now, Holgorsen was talking about this from a running back standpoint, which I'd say is a little more difficult with three freshmen running backs, who all way much less than 200 pounds. However, that's what WVU has to deal with when guys like redshirt junior running backs Ryan Clarke or Matt Lindamood are not in the game.
Lindamood did get injured, left the Marshall game early and did not return. The Mountaineers continued to struggle with blocking, which shows how vital he is in the blocking schemes for the Mountaineers.
What separates a great team from a good team is that it can make adjustments and fix its mistakes to the point where they never, or rarely happen again.
Mountaineer nation will see if its team in old gold and blue can take care of the
problems it has over the next three weeks. After that, the toughest test will be facing 2nd-ranked LSU, who will most likely be undefeated and could be No. 1 in the nation coming into the game, if an upset occurs.
The good thing is, it's only week one of the season. There is time for improvement. The coaches and players need to take full advantage of that time to fix some of the mistakes that showed against Marshall.