But the Mountaineers were able to do the things they set out to do. They were able to get better as the game wore on and, unlike two other Big 12 Conference teams, they came away with a win against a talented FCS opponent.
"I thought we got better on all three sides of the ball," said West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen. "And that's the overall goal for an opening football game. I don't care too much about the score.
"Would we have liked to score more? Absolutely. But there are things that happened that we'll be able to learn from. You can try your hardest to put guys in situations and see how they're going to respond, but until you do that in a real game you're not going to be able to really see how people are going to respond."
One player who responded well to his opportunities when they were presented to them was junior quarterback Paul Millard. In his first chance as a starter, Millard took full advantage and didn't look back. He completed 19 of 25 passes for 230 yards and a touchdown while sitting out just two drives in favor of fellow junior signal caller Clint Trickett.
But just because he performed the best against the Tribe does not necessarily mean he will automatically be the guy the rest of the way - including when the Mountaineers travel to Norman, Okla., this week.
"He did a good job of managing the game. I thought he got us into several really good run checks," Holgorsen said. "I was happy with what he did," Holgorsen said. "I still think that Clint brings something to the table that he doesn't, so we will continue to rep Clint because obviously you've got to rep your second-team quarterback anyway."
West Virginia will face an Oklahoma defense that it gained more than 700 yards of total offense against last season in a loss in Morgantown, thanks in part to a record-breaking performance by Tavon Austin. But now Austin, as well as several other playmakers from the 2012 offense, is gone and the Sooners have made progress in becoming a more reliable defense.
"They made some changes, unfortunately for us," Holgorsen said. "They kept a tremendous amount of speed on the field. They seem to be a lot more aggressive, a lot more attacking, they're blitzing more.
"They look fast, they look good, they look aggressive."
West Virginia played well offensively on Saturday, gaining 400 yards with a nice balance between the run and the pass.
But even though the numbers looked good on paper, there are still plenty of places the offense needs to improve before Saturday.
"We had 400 yards, which when you're looking at so many guys that have not played a college football game, the fact that we had 400 yards is probably satisfying for a whole lot of people," Holgorsen said. "I don't care about stats, I don't care about numbers. I care about being efficient.
"There were a lot of times where we weren't very efficient at finishing drives, but that's part of the process with inexperienced kids."