Offensive line looks to improve in Brawl after disappointing performance against Cincinnati
Published: Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, November 15, 2011 23:11
Dana Holgorsen challenged the West Virginia offensive line at his weekly press conference Monday after junior quarterback Geno Smith was sacked five times by Cincinnati Saturday.
The five sacks were the most West Virginia has given up in a game this year and matched the total amount the offensive line had given up in the previous two games. The line has given up at least one sack in every game except against LSU this season.
"None of them played good enough to win," Holgorsen said of his offensive linemen's play against Cincinnati. "We'll leave it at that, but they need to get better."
The Bearcats did not bring a massive amount of pressure by blitzing. They were able to get enough pressure on Smith without having to send extra pass rushers, which is probably why Holgorsen was discouraged.
They showed the opposite of what Syracuse brought, which was several types of blitz packages throughout the game.
Whatever the reasons, the offensive line didn't get the job done well enough. Holgorsen wants to see improvements by the Backyard Brawl against Pittsburgh.
"We've got to block better, we've got to finish blocks better, and we've got to find guys to come in here that are better than the ones we've got," he said.
"Have we called them out? Yes, we're challenging them. We love them. We want them to get better. We're going to work hard with them and get them healed up. We're going to put them in a position to be successful, but at some point they've got to figure out a way to get it done."
The talent of the Cincinnati defensive front line might have had something to do with the lack of success in blocking, but the team knows its job isn't going to get any easier against Pitt's athletic defensive line.
"All of us are sick, the way we played (against Cincinnati)," said redshirt senior right guard Tyler Rader.
"It was awful. We can't let that happen again. Geno (Smith) got hit way too many times," he said. "That's inexcusable. We're not going to let that happen again – it can't happen."
Pitt has 32 sacks on the season, 14 of those against Big East teams, which is tied for third in the conference with Cincinnati and Louisville.
Rader feels the players can't dwell on what happened in the past. They have to move on and continue to work hard to improve and not allow any five-sack games to happen again.
The Mountaineer offensive line has kept a positive attitude, even when they haven't played great at times. Being able to not get too down or too confident has helped them stay humble and get back to doing the basic little steps to get better as a unit.
"I don't think we were ever on cloud nine to where we thought we were unbeatable, but we definitely see that we have a second or third chance," Rader said. "We don't want to let this one slip away, so we're hungry, and we're going to go out there and do all we can to come out with a Big East championship."