MORGANTOWN - It sounds overly simplistic and perhaps it is.
But when trying to solve the mystery of why West Virginia's once-white-hot offense has suddenly gone frigid, rhythm and mentality have to be figured into the mix.
Yes, there are more tangible difficulties the No. 23 Mountaineers (5-2, 2-2 Big 12) are addressing as they prepare for Saturday's 3 p.m. home game with TCU (5-3, 2-3). Star receiver Stedman Bailey has limped through the last game and a half, quarterback Geno Smith hasn't been as accurate, the protection and the run blocking of the offensive line has tailed off and the offense still awaits the return of tailback Shawne Alston.
But West Virginia also managed to overcome such difficulties earlier, and has not done so in back-to-back losses to Texas Tech and Kansas State in which just three offensive touchdowns were scored, two of them on short-field drives of just 54 yards.
Could it be something so simple as getting into a successful rhythm and seeing one success snowball into others?
"Yeah,'' Smith said. "I think any offense, any team does better when the momentum's on your side and you get in a rhythm. I think the great teams and the champions do a great job of maintaining things when the momentum isn't on their side and when things aren't particularly going your way.''
It's certainly been the case that in the last two games, the momentum has quickly gone toward West Virginia's opponents. Texas Tech scored on its first two possessions, then three in a row in building a 35-7 halftime lead. Kansas State's offense wasn't stopped on any of its first eight drives.
But neither of those circumstances was much different than the two previous games that West Virginia won. Texas scored on five straight possessions at one point. Baylor scored on four of five and was in scoring range (missing a field goal) on the other near the start.
The difference is that West Virginia's offense in those cases always answered. Smith and Co. had early success in those games - and the three to open the season, as well - and never doubted that they could answer any challenge.
Against Tech and K-State, though, there was no early success. At Tech, five of the first six drives ended in punts or on failed fourth downs. The Kansas State game started with WVU punting the first three times it had the ball.
Might they have been different if West Virginia's offense had started with some early success? Instead of lopsided losses, could they have been 70-63 shootouts like the Baylor game, regardless of what WVU's defense was doing?