For the past few weeks, I have questioned West Virginia football head coach Dana Holgorsen’s decision-making.
Let’s take it back to the Texas Tech game, shall we? WVU had an opportunity to cut an early deficit when the Mountaineers were driving and were stopped on Texas Tech’s 26-yard line. West Virginia was in field goal range and redshirt freshman Josh Lambert would have been able to hit a 43-yard field goal to make it a one-possession game.
Holgorsen, admitting his regret for the decision later, felt WVU would be able to convert on a 4th and 14 instead of just taking the three points. There are certain situations in which you should take a gamble on a risky situation, and there are other times when you should be smart and take what you can get.
My gripe with that decision was Holgorsen believed the offense needed two yards in order to get the first down. He claimed the offense was moving the ball and it was a “4th and 2 or whatever it was,” so the decision to go for it didn’t seem that far-fetched.
As a head coach, you need to be aware of those situations. While I’m all in for gambles and keeping the defense on its toes, there are times when you have to think about what is best for the team in terms of confidence and momentum.
Let’s fast forward to Saturday’s loss against Kansas State in Manhattan, Kan. The Wildcats were down 9-7, and WVU had the chance to add more points just before the end of the first half.
West Virginia was set for a 26-yard field goal attempt after quarterback Clint Trickett put together a nice drive that gave the Mountaineers another chance to put more points on the scoreboard and give WVU a 12-7 lead going into halftime.
Lambert was set for his second field goal attempt on the afternoon. Holgorsen had other plans, though. Holder Michael Molinari went for a fake and was held short of the first down marker by two yards.
In that situation, if you ask me, you simply take the points. There’s a good time to take a risk and try to capitalize on a gamble, and there are other times when a head coach should be rational.
Of course it was one of those situations that if the Mountaineers were successful with the fake, Holgorsen would look like a genius.
The way the game was going, a difference between being up by a field goal and a touchdown cannot be stressed enough. Both teams struggled to take care of the ball and get anything going offensively in the first half.
I simply just wasn’t a fan of the move. Lambert has been very consistent this season and he’s been able to hit 50-yard field goals, as seen in Saturday’s loss to Kansas State. This one would have been 26 yards out and could have been a momentum booster.
Instead, you had K-State ready to go out in the second half with the ball only down by two points.
Getting zero points on that drive may have turned the game around for West Virginia. The Mountaineers’ offense isn’t necessarily potent, so taking any points when the opportunity presents itself is key for Holgorsen and WVU.
While so many blatant mistakes happened Saturday in the loss to the Wildcats, a huge component was Holgorsen’s decision-making and mindset in making that call.