Indeed, the two muffed punts have been huge because both came early against good opponents when the Mountaineers were holding their own and then some. They led Oklahoma 7-3 when Alford fumbled and had field position and momentum early against Maryland when Carswell coughed it up. Both teams scored to take the lead after the muffed punts and never trailed again.
Carswell is the third punt returner West Virginia has used this season - Jordan Thompson was the other - and Holgorsen seems content with sticking with him because he likes Carswell's confidence.
"You can't just keep playing musical chairs,'' Holgorsen said, likening it to his quarterback situation. "It's the same thing at punt returner. You've got to believe in some kids. And I do believe in them. I'm going to believe in them a little bit more and we're going to go out and we're going to practice and we're going to get better.
"Their guy dropped two. The wind was swirling. It was wet. He made a poor decision. He's inexperienced. He's going to get better at it. I like his confidence and I think he's got the mental makeup to where he's going to get better at it.''
The other issue with turnovers is on the other side of the ball. West Virginia has forced eight turnovers in four games, but has managed to score just seven points after those turnovers. On half the occasions that the defense has given the offense the ball on turnovers, the offense has given it back with one of its own.
"We're much improved on defense. We're doing good things on defense. I love our attitude,'' Holgorsen said, specifically citing Will Clarke, Darwin Cook and Karl Joseph for their play at Maryland. "But when we're getting turnovers, we're not setting up scores. That's one of our goals on defense is to set up a couple of scores.''
It would be nice, of course, if when the defense does force a turnover, the offense would take advantage. Often times, that's the best time to strike, on a quick change when momentum is shifting.
"But we're having a hard time scoring period,'' Holgorsen said. "So it's not like when we get a turnover all of a sudden we've got a killer instinct and can go out and execute the offense.
"But we're not setting them up. We're giving it to them in the wrong spots at the wrong time. Defensively, if we want to go from being good to great we've got to start making some critical plays in some critical situations and helping our offense set up scores. Or score [on defense] if that's what we need to do.''
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickm...@aol.com or follow him at Twitter.com/dphickman1.