The results this year have been overall successful, but still mixed. Take Baylor last week, for example. The Bears, who threw 47 times for 581 yards against West Virginia, ran the ball 51 times for 252 yards against Oklahoma. The Sooners won 42-34, but those rushing numbers were alarming.
"[It wasn't just] last week. It's every week,'' Holgorsen said of OU almost ceding the run in order to stop the pass. "They do the same thing every time.''
Whether West Virginia can take advantage of that, however, remains to be seen. The Mountaineers haven't run the ball exceptionally well since the Texas game, which not coincidentally was the team's last win.
If they can't, it will be up to Geno Smith and the passing game to win some of those battles. But that's where the bad news is. Oklahoma leads the Big 12 and is No. 8 in the nation in pass defense, No. 2 in pass efficiency defense. The Sooners have given up just three touchdown passes all season, none when it mattered (one to Florida A&M and two to Texas after building a 56-8 lead).
Consider this: Oklahoma has faced Collin Klein of Kansas State, Seth Doege of Texas Tech and Nick Florence of Baylor, who combined to throw for 14 touchdowns and an average of 468 yards against WVU. Against the Sooners those three threw for an average of 175 yards and zero touchdowns.
While that is certainly as much an indictment of WVU's defense as anything else, it still serves to illustrate what West Virginia's offense is up against this week. That defensive alignment can't possibly work unless the Sooners win a ton of one-on-one matchups, and obviously they have, at least in the passing game.
"This poses different challenges,'' Holgorsen said. "There are one-on-one matchups. Are our guys going to be good enough to win those one-on-one matchups? We'll see Saturday night.''
Baylor won in the running game and kept last week's game competitive right to the end in part because the Bears were able to spread that defense even further than most Oklahoma opponents. West Virginia hopes to do the same and then rely on Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey to win matchups in the secondary and hope that up front the offensive line wins enough battles to spring running backs into what figures to be open space.
"Baylor does as good a job as anybody in the country of putting people in space. I feel like we do a pretty good job of putting people in space,'' Holgorsen said. "And then once those guys are in space it's about making some people miss, and Baylor did a pretty good job of making some people miss.''
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickm...@aol.com or follow him at Twitter.com/dphickman1.