MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- I spent a bit of time Monday going through the player participation list from West Virginia's most recent game. You remember that, right? It was Saturday's messy 31-19 embarrassment at Kansas.
I did so because of this, from Dana Holgorsen in the aftermath of what stands as the low-water mark in the already-shallow pool that constitutes WVU football over the past two seasons:
"This program's not equipped right now to handle the wear and tear of the Big 12,'' Holgorsen said. "You look at how many freshmen were out there - and I'm not blaming anything on injuries; that's just part of the game. But you've got to be able to have depth. In the Big 12, you've got to be able to handle a lot of snaps and you've got to be able to handle injuries. And right now we're not where we need to be.''
The question, then, becomes an easy one: Is West Virginia headed in the right direction?
The answer? Well, not so easy.
Of course, none of what I'm about to present is likely to sway your opinion one way or another. It's the Fox News/MSNBC syndrome that pervades our culture. There's no longer any gray area to anything political. You've made up your mind and nothing anyone says will change it. You watch one or the other merely to validate your point of view.
Thus, Dana Holgorsen is either the worst thing that has ever happened to West Virginia (not just the university, but the state, right?) or he's trying to make chicken salad out of chicken excrement and deserves more time.
And so none of this will be enlightening. Shoot, I'm not even sure what to make of it. But while one faction accuses Holgorsen of ruining what they perceive as the wonderful program the late Bill Stewart had built, and another praises him for beginning the process of blowing up what they saw as a stagnant program and starting from scratch, it is at least interesting to revisit the current WVU roster and see just whose players these are.
And so first, we took a look at that player participation chart from the Kansas game. A total of 54 players saw the field, be it on offense, defense or special teams. Of those, 37 were recruited after Holgorsen arrived in December of 2010 and 17 were already on board.
(Just to clarify further, when we say recruited after Holgorsen came on board, that includes anyone that committed after he was hired as the offensive coordinator and head coach in waiting. They may or may not have been primarily Stewart recruits, but when they committed they knew who they would eventually play for. Conversely, anyone that was already on the roster or had committed to the next recruiting class pro-Holgorsen is considered a Stewart holdover).
Anyway, the 22 starters on offense and defense in the Kansas game were split down the middle, 11 Stewart signees and 11 on Holgorsen's watch. Perhaps curiously, there were more Holgorsen defensive starters (6) than offensive (5).
Where it starts to become a bit more interesting is in the depth that Holgorsen talked about. Minus the 22 starters, that means 32 others saw action. All but six can be considered Holgorsen-era players. Add it up and 37 of the 54 players who saw action at Kansas arrived on Holgorsen's watch, 17 having already been here or committed.
Of course, you can take that a couple of different ways, which I'm sure you will. On one hand, Holgorsen is already playing predominantly with his own players (just under 70 percent) and failing miserably, as a 6-13 record in the last 19 games attests.
On the other hand, though, it goes without saying that since Holgorsen has been on board less than three years, every one of those players who have arrived on his watch have been in the program less than three years. Eleven of those 37 Holgorsen players who saw action against Kansas have been in the program less than a year, arriving either in January or this summer. And 16 others arrived only last year. That's 27 first- or second-year players among the 37 Holgorsen-era recruits who played on Saturday.
Oh, and you may also have noticed it's exactly half of the players who played at Kansas. Granted, some are transfers or junior college guys with some previous experience, but they've still been in WVU's program barely long enough to have redshirted, although most didn't.