Bright spots for WVU?

If anything positive comes out of West Virginia’s embarrassing loss to Maryland on Saturday, it is the apparent growth displayed by third-year head coach Dana Holgorsen during Monday’s Big 12 Teleconference.

Asked if he could point to one area he believed was most responsible for the Mountaineers’ lackluster play on offense, the former offensive coodinator at Oklahoma State-WVU’s opponent at noon Saturday at Milan Puskar Stadium-Texas Tech and the University of Houston refused to take the opportunity to throw his players, or his assistants, under the proverbial bus.

“There’s plenty of blame to go around,” Holgorsen said. “And, the bigger share is on me. I’ve got to do a better job of preparing us. I’ve got to do a better job of putting us in a position to win.

“I don’t want to point fingers at anyone. Except myself.”

In that statement we all can agree.

Just like the Pinstripe Bowl last December (an embarrassing 38-14 loss to a Syracuse team that the Mountaineers had dominated for so many years) the Mountaineers seemed ill-prepared, and un-motivated, for both the conditions and the inspired play of the opposition.

Simply put, the Terrapins wanted the game more.

West Virginia was its own worst enemy. On offense, quarterback Ford Childress looked to be the redshirt freshman he is, appearing confused and befuddled at the line of scrimmage. Defensively, the unit continued to play hard on first and second down only to surrender a big play on third down and remain on the field far too long to give the offense any hope of playing with a ‘short field’.

But, as bad as those two units played, the performance on special teams was downright abysmal.

With all of the so-called ‘playmakers’ on the units, the only one accomplishing what fans have come to expect is first-year punter Nick O’Toole. And, while his 46.2 yards per attempt is impressive, the fact that he is on the field as much as he is means the offense isn’t moving the chains.

The return game, both on kickoffs and punts, is laughable.

A muffed punt led to the Terps’ first score while the offense consistently was placed in a hole on ill-advised returns on kicks that reached the end zone. Heading into its second Big 12 game of the season, WVU ranks seventh in kickoff returns (20.0 ypc) and dead last in the 10-team league in punt returns (6.4 ypc).

Speaking of the offense, it ranks No. 10 in scoring (18.0 ppg), No. 7 in total yards (393.8), No. 5 in rushing (174.8), No. 7 in passing (219.0) and No. 8 in pass efficiency (118.2).

Again, to his credit, Holgorsen elected not to throw his quarterback to the wolves.

“I, obviously, see bigger issues,” said the coach. “The bigger issue is me. I’ve got to do a better job of preparing these guys to play.”

It is very doubtful the coach would get an argument from anyone on that.

Contact Jim Butta at jbutta@newsansentinel.com