All of which begs the question: Is it time for Holgorsen to back off of those dropback passes right from the start and go with a game plan similar to the second half against Pitt, or does he roll the dice again on the offensive line and then adjust if necessary?
Holgorsen leans toward the latter, but has also begun preparing more to change horses in the middle of the stream.
"We've tapered it some,'' Holgorsen said of the emphasis on dropback passes. "But it's still all about how it looks within the game. You can go into every game and you can think that you can protect [the quarterback] or you think you can't protect him. And then if you are protecting him, you can call more pass plays. Or if you're not protecting him, you'd better quit calling as many pass plays.
"The preparation probably changes a little bit, but it's not going to change drastically. It's all about what you've got to do within the game based on what works and based on how the game is going.''
On the plus side, of course, is that as the Mountaineers have had to adjust their emphasis within games if quarterback Geno Smith is under too much pressure, they are becoming more adept at the alternatives to dropback passes. Against Pitt, for instance, WVU's run-pass ratio went from 10 runs and 16 passes in the first half to 20 runs and 15 passes in the second. And of those 15 passes, 12 were aimed at receivers behind or near the line of scrimmage or quick tosses over the middle.
Yes, Holgorsen would prefer to be able to air it out more than occasionally and see if Geno Smith can find Stedman Bailey or Ivan McCartney downfield. But if Smith doesn't have the time to do that, then at least there are alternatives.
"I have to pay attention to the flow of the game,'' Smith said. "Our offensive line has done a pretty good job all year. They blocked LSU [when Smith threw for 463 yards] and when they give us time and I can sit back there and throw the ball, we're a great offense.
"But at times they get beat. It's something that comes along with the game. ... But I think we'll be fine. It's not a major issue.''
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickm...@aol.com.