MORGANTOWN - In West Virginia's first game of the season, the Mountaineers gained 409 yards and scored 24 points against FCS William & Mary. They needed a touchdown with 31/2 minutes to play just to win.
Through the next four games, those numbers declined. WVU was averaging less than 400 yards of total offense and just over 20 points per game. Last week's loss at Baylor inflated the scoring average thanks to 42 points, but two of the touchdowns were scored by defense and special teams and two others after the Mountaineers had fallen behind 56-14 and Baylor substituted.
The total yardage figure was again right about at the average - 394 yards.
And so through six games, playing under a coach whose calling card always has been offense, West Virginia ranks 94th (out of 123 FBS schools) in scoring, 79th in total offense, 102nd in red-zone offense, 105th in pass completion percentage, 113th in third-down conversion rate, 115th in turnovers and 118th in fumbles lost.
Of all the offensive statistics kept by the NCAA, West Virginia's highest rank is in first downs, at No. 40.
"I knew we were going to be a work in progress,'' said that offensive-minded coach, Dana Holgorsen. "I knew it and everybody knew it.''
Yes, but few expected it to be this much work.
"I wanted it to come together quicker. I wish I was sitting here after six games saying that we know who we are, where we're at and where we're going,'' Holgorsen said. "That's not the current situation and it's not anyone's fault.
"We've played some pretty good teams. We have a lot of inexperience and we have some injuries. We're dealing with a lot of stuff that teams across the country are dealing with.''
Indeed, West Virginia's offense has issues, not the least of which is inexperience. Few expected the Mountaineers to match the record-breaking numbers that Geno Smith, Tavon Austin, Stedman Bailey and others helped create the last two seasons. The quarterbacks, receivers and running backs are almost all new, some arriving on campus only this summer. The offensive line is in transition.
And even the offensive position coaches are all new. Ron Crook (line), Lonnie Galloway (receivers) and JaJuan Seider (backs) are in their first year, and coordinator Shannon Dawson moved from receivers to quarterbacks coach.
Yet Holgorsen insists the offense is getting better.