MORGANTOWN - More than once Monday morning, Dana Holgorsen mentioned how much he liked where West Virginia's football team is after two weeks of the season.
Presumably he wasn't referring to practicing for a game against perhaps the worst college football team in the country, but instead a broader, more intangible place.
"You know, I've not been discouraged with our team,'' Holgorsen said. "I don't know if anybody else has been, but I haven't been discouraged with our team.''
And truth is, maybe he shouldn't be. After all, despite a less-than-glowing resume - a struggle-filled win over William & Mary and a mistake-filled loss at far-more-daunting Oklahoma - the Mountaineers have actually shown some signs of life.
Consider that the defense isn't awful. After last season, anything would have been an improvement, but so far this group is leaps and bounds better.
The special teams have actually been pretty good. Really. Kickoffs and kick coverage have been good, the mustachioed punter has a big leg, no one has returned a punt for much of anything and the field goal kicker's only miss was from another zip code. The glaring mistakes (a muffed punt and a roughing the punter foul) were absolutely huge gaffes, but they aren't endemic of bad special teams play, just mistakes.
And on offense, there seem to be some playmakers. There are actually more than a year ago, when those guys numbered just three or four. It's hard to look at West Virginia's backs and receivers and not see a whole bunch of potential. In fact, there seems so much at receiver that this week's depth chart lists three new starters - Kevin White, Ronald Carswell and Mario Alford - and next week might have a third trio.
(That depth chart, by the way, also lists a new starter at center, Pat Eger, as well as some shuffling on defense for a variety of reasons.)
But then there's the quarterback issue. It's the one thing that overrides everything else, simply because the quarterback is so important to Holgorsen's teams. Always has been. And you
get the feeling that Holgorsen's optimism about this team is what it is because he realizes that fixing that one issue will cure a whole lot of ills.
And so fixing it is job one. But how to go about fixing it aside from opening the competition up again?
"I don't know what needs to happen,'' Holgorsen said. "Obviously it's success, but I don't know when it's going to happen to the point that I feel good about somebody and they take the bull by the horns and they lead the team to victories and they look good doing it.
"Until that happens, I would assume that we're going to continue to play all three.''