Right On Schedule?

West Virginia is rarely put into this situation. And it had better take advantage.

BlueGoldNews.com Game Scorecard
Sat 9/14 12:00 PM ET

Morgantown, WV

Mountaineer Field at
Milan Puskar Stadium
Record: 1-1

Last Game
Oklahoma 16-7 L
TV: Root Sports Pitt
Sirius\XM: 138\191
Web: BlueGoldNews.com
Record: 0-2

Last Game
UTC 42-14 L
Rosters/ Bios
Press Release
Season Stats
2013 Schedule

Series: First Meeting

First Meeting: 2013
Last Meeting: None
Rosters/Bios
Press Release
Season Stats
2013 Schedule

Which position, you ask? The one that has it sandwiching a pair of lower-caliber, non-BCS foes around a marquee program and, currently, top 15 team in Oklahoma. It's almost perfect, this setup. The Mountaineers experimented with multiple line-ups and depth at key positions in the opener against William and Mary, then played a legit Big 12 contender in Oklahoma before being able to go back to the proverbial drawing board – now likely a fully-integrated laptop for film review and personnel scouting – and, again, see what adjustments need made with a full two weeks of practice before a key border tilt versus Maryland.

Let's be honest. Georgia State, off a 42-14 pasting by UT-Chattanooga, shouldn't play within three-plus scores of West Virginia. The Panthers are allowing more than 250 rush yards per game and, although they have limited foes to 150 yards passing per game, have yet to get any timely stops or compete for more than a couple quarters, and that's against the Mocs and Stamford. It's a program that has lost 12 of its last 13 games, and it had two offensive linemen quit within the last week. Head coach Trent Miles certainly should be commended for his attempt to award time to the players that show the most effort. But right now, this is arguably the biggest building job in the FBS level, and there's simply not much in the tank in terms of firepower.

This is supposed to be a preview of sorts. And we could delve into Georgia State's abilities, its 332 passing yards per game, how quarterback Ronnie Bell has completed 37 of 72 passes for 461 yards and three scores with two picks, how wideout Albert Wilson is a solid, 5-9, 200-pounder with 15 catches for 299 yards, an average of almost 20 per catch. About how GSU has yet to attempt a field goal, but has a good punter in Matt Hubbard – four punts of 50-plus yards with an average of 41.1 yards, including three inside the 20 and two touchbacks. But, to be honest, all that likely won't matter because of the sheer talent difference. No, once again, this game is about West Virginia against itself.

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And oh, how there's much to improve there. Let's now be perhaps even more honest, and note that there are clear shortcomings within WVU's program as well. The staff has struggled with clock management. Some players have struggled with effort, others with execution. The special teams have ranged from extreme highs to horrid lows. The quarterback situation is as unsettled as western Virginia circa 1780 – and this from a set of offensive coaches that have always preferred going with that one guy. Head coach Dana Holgorsen has already commented that West Virginia would give reserve Ford Childress added reps this week, and that the "communication between me and (Paul Millard) was not good in the fourth quarter. The continuity between him and the receivers was not there, and it needed to be.

"I think we are closer on offense, but I accept full responsibility for seven points. I don't care who we are playing, it's embarrassing. I've got the utmost respect for Bob and Mike Stoops, but that being said, seven points is embarrassing, and we need to fix it. We need to do a better job of putting guys into a position to make plays."

We could rehash it all here, the spent timeouts fiasco, the lack of ability to get in and out of the huddle on the fourth-and-two turned fourth-and-seven after a delay that essentially ended any chance to win. That's been done. Now it's time to do something about it, and this is the week West Virginia must make its move. Look for the staff, against an overmatched Georgia State team, to give Clint Trickett serious snaps in the game, and perhaps Childress, too.

"We have the potential to better (on offense) than we were last year," Holgorsen said. "Does that mean we are better than last year, or are going to be better than last year? No. It just means we have the potential to be."

The question, which must be answered this week heading into a key stretch against Maryland and Oklahoma State, is if that potential can be realized under Millard. The junior completed 21 of 41 passes against Oklahoma for 218 yards and a glaring interception, and seemed to wilt in the fourth quarter and often underthrew open wideouts as much as he was able to fit the ball into some tight windows. He's a solid quarterback, with some legit talent. But one gets the feeling the coaching staff feels there's a lower ceiling on him than with Trickett, and West Virginia needs that added breadth of ability. If the staff were sold entirely on Millard, there wouldn't be this continual discussion – and GSU gives the Mountaineers the perfect scenario in which to experiment.

The Panthers' defense is slightly undersized. It has a solid secondary, but won't overwhelm. Its offense might be able to move it a bit, but it won't grind out lengthy drives, not against this defense. It's almost an NFL exhibition-like atmosphere against arguably the worst foe to ever play at new Mountaineer Field. The opposing talent level might not foretell how any of the quarterbacks run the two-minute drill down five late against Baylor. But for West Virginia to at least settle its focus on its core group of players, that honing down has to happen now, with a week of preparation, an easy game, then another week before the contest with a much-improved Terps team in Baltimore.

"A lot of people talk about how talented we are, even guys on our team talk about how talented we are," Holgorsen said. "We need to prove that, we need to make some plays. You need to make plays when you are put into those situations, and if you don't, we will try and put some other guys in those situations."

You've got little more than a week and one game to figure it out, West Virginia. Time to go to work.


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