MORGANTOWN - When Dana Holgorsen says his West Virginia football team remains a work in progress - and he says that a lot - he's not just talking about the work being done in practice.
Take special teams, for instance.
There is an argument to be made that that's the area of this football team that still needs the most work. After all, the offense has now proved it can both throw the ball and run it. The defense, while shaky at times, seems to grow a bit every week, witness those five forced turnovers and a couple of sacks Saturday against Bowling Green.
The special teams? Well, there's not been nearly enough growth there. If Holgorsen can't get it straightened out in practice, why not fiddle with it on Saturdays?
Take the Mountaineers' kickoff coverage unit, for instance. That was the group that turned the tide in West Virginia's loss to No. 1 LSU, and not in a good way. After the offense and defense began doing their part to rally from a 27-7 halftime deficit, the kickoff team shot it to pieces by giving up a touchdown return when the score was 27-21 and things were beginning to get interesting.
Well, a week later, practice had apparently not paid off. Bowling Green's Boo Boo Gates returned the opening kickoff 30 yards (although his fumble at the end of the runback pretty much negated that). But then he ran back the next kickoff 77 yards.
Holgorsen's reaction? Well, it became practice all over again. And why not?
Over the course of 10 kickoffs in that 55-10 rout, the personnel on West Virginia's kickoff team changed almost every time. Holgorsen changed the inside guys, the outside guys, even the kicker.
It seemed like as many as 15 to 18 different guys had their chance, a sort of audition in front of a live audience. In truth, it was more than that.
"You actually saw a total of about 20 new faces on the kickoff team,'' Holgorsen said. "We were firing people left and right and trying new people left and right, firing and re-hiring, replacing, moving people around.
"That's been something that we've been doing [in practice], but we did it through the course of the game due to the fact that we had a lot of opportunities. In one sense, there's nothing like live work on that unit which you can't get in practice. You have to be in a game in order to get it. Due to the fact that we had a lot of reps at it, we had a chance to get 23, 24 or 25 guys in the game at that one particular unit.''
And still there is no resolution. The Mountaineers worked on kick coverage again Sunday night when they returned to practice, and it's no clearer than it ever was.
"It's probably the same 22 [who will continue to be auditioned],'' Holgorsen said. "We probably made a few changes. We worked on it a little bit [Sunday] at three-quarters speed. We'll work it again [today] and Thursday and make decisions then. But there will more than likely be new faces on there.''