Indeed, of all the problems West Virginia has had on offense this season, one statistic perhaps boils it down better than any other. The Mountaineers rank No. 111 in the country in converting third downs into first downs.
Granted, the myriad issues surrounding WVU's offensive futility are the reasons for that third-down ineptitude, but the stat itself is perhaps the bottom line.
"With an average offense and a lot of inexperience at key positions, it's tough to get first downs on second-and-5, let alone third-and-5,'' Holgorsen said. "It's all part of the process and gaining experience and knowledge on what we're asking them to do.''
Things might not get any easier against Texas Tech. The Red Raiders are 11th in the country in third-down conversion defense.
But while third downs are certainly a problem, Holgorsen is far more concerned with the offense as a whole. Until the Mountaineers are able to master that, third downs will continue to be hard.
"When you're having problems on first-and-10, it's a lot harder on third-and-10,'' Holgorsen said. "You've just got to get good at making routine plays and execution on what the play is and try to put the ball in play and get positive yards. The more success you have doing that, you would be surprised that many routine plays turn into bigger plays. You make a guy miss here or there and get first downs on second-and-5 instead of having to deal with third-and-4.''
West Virginia has already played Oklahoma State and Baylor after those teams had a bye week. Next week the Mountaineers face a Kansas State team that's off this weekend.
This week WVU plays one of its two games with more rest than its opponent (the other is Iowa State).
Advantage Mountaineers? Kliff Kingsbury doesn't necessarily think so.
"I've never been a big proponent of bye weeks besides to get healthy,'' said the Texas Tech coach, whose team had an off week three weeks ago. "I think when you get rolling it's good to keep that going, keep the routine and keep practice going. I don't think that will play either way.''
Tech has certainly been rolling. The Red Raiders haven't lost since an overtime decision to Baylor last Nov. 24. Only Ohio State (18), Alabama (10), Baylor (9), Louisville and Oregon (8 each) have longer streaks than Tech's seven straight wins.
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickm...@aol.com or follow him at Twitter.com/dphickman1.