MORGANTOWN - There is a certain simplistic and elementary philosophy to a West Virginia offense that at times seems capable of doing almost anything well.
For all of the seemingly complicated and varied formations, the strict attention to detail and the emphasis on tempo, what the Mountaineers really do is throw stuff against the wall and see what sticks.
"Everything we do is kind of trial and error,'' Dana Holgorsen admits. "If it looks good, we keep doing it. If it doesn't, we do something else.''
Last weekend, what West Virginia threw against that wall was lining up Tavon Austin in the backfield and handing him the football. To say that it stuck would be an understatement. He rushed for a school-record 344 yards, a performance that nearly allowed the Mountaineers to upset Oklahoma.
To think that Holgorsen and his staff won't try it again on Friday when West Virginia (5-5, 2-5 Big 12) tries once again to snap a five-game losing streak and become bowl eligible in a game at Iowa State (6-5, 3-5) is ludicrous.
But to assume it will work as well - or at all, for that matter - is probably wishful thinking. West Virginia will throw it against the wall again, but this time it might not stick.
"It's just the way [Oklahoma] played,'' offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson said of Austin's wildly successful night. "I don't know that you'll see that again from anyone else.''
If nothing else, Austin's performance against Oklahoma will force opponents, beginning with Iowa State this week, to game plan for it. And that takes time away from preparing for other things. Coaches refer to it as chasing ghosts, which means being forced to prepare for a bunch of things that teams might do, rather than what they normally do.