"If you want to say it's scheme, say it's scheme. But it's the same stuff we've run for a long time. But if we can't come off [the ball] and move people it's not good.''
That wasn't the only miserable offensive failure of the half for WVU, though. The Mountaineers got their first possession at the NSU 26 after a failed on-side kick and promptly gained just 8 yards before Bitancurt missed a 35-yarder wide left. WVU then went three-and-out from its own 6 on its second possession and then, after Austin's 64-yard punt return set the Mountaineers up at the NSU 12, it was four-and-out after one incomplete pass and three straight runs gained just 8 yards.
Norfolk State, meanwhile was converting pass plays of 56, 38 and 29 yards and overcoming its own penalties to get four field goals, 39, 39 and 40 yards by Ryan Estep and a 50-yarder from Everett Goldberg. West Virginia did manage to somehow piece together an 81-yard drive and scored on an 18-yard pass from Smith to Devon Brown, but then, as the half came to a close the Mountaineers used a time out to stop the clock before a third-and-12 play, didn't convert and then gave the Spartans a chance to score with a shanked 15-yard punt by Corey Smith and a roughing the passer penalty on Bruce Irvin.
Estep converted his 40-yarder on the last play of the half to give Norfolk State a 12-10 lead.
All of those problems, though, vanished in the second half. On WVU's first five possessions it moved 51, 80, 60, 49 and 48 yards for touchdowns, none of the drives consuming more than six plays or 135 seconds. NSU got just two first downs and 43 total yards in the final two quarters.
It was a far cry from a first half, when at times the crowd of 51,911 actually booed a few times.
"They probably had a few good reasons,'' Holgorsen said. "I'd probably boo, too.''
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickm...@aol.com.