FORT WORTH, Texas - Earlier this week, Dana Holgorsen was talking about the importance of offensive line play and how in West Virginia's case it had been getting better, but not good enough.
"It's still inconsistent. They're still learning to play together and still improving," Holgorsen said. "I am pleased with their effort and their attitude and their will to get better and continuously try to improve.''
Well, chalk up Saturday's 30-27 overtime win against TCU as a huge step forward for that offensive line. It might very well be the reason West Virginia didn't lose its fourth game in a row, perhaps by a lopsided margin the way things were going.
Here's the deal: With about 20 minutes gone in the game, TCU was just flat dominating West Virginia. Not only was the Horned Frogs' offense slicing through the WVU defense, the Mountaineer offense could get nothing going. Five possessions had produced four first downs and just 58 yards. WVU had managed to avoid being shut out (it was 17-3) only because TCU turned the ball over on the game's opening play.
Then some way, somehow, West Virginia's offense just exploded. Getting the ball on its own 13, Charles Sims ran for 29 yards, Clint Trickett hit Mario Alford for 27 and Sims then sliced into the open field for 31 yards and a touchdown. Three plays. Eighty-seven yards. Offensive problem solved.
The thanks, according to Holgorsen, goes to the offensive line.
"We challenged the offensive linemen on the sideline,'' Holgorsen said. "And they [responded by saying], 'Well, run this instead of that.' ''
So that's what Holgorsen did. The linemen looked at what TCU was doing on defense and kind of knew that the plays that were being called were running right into the Horned Frogs' strengths. So they suggested other plays and they worked.
And, well, they blocked them better, too.
"We challenged them and then we went out and hit [TCU] with a big play [Sims' first run],'' Holgorsen said. "Then Clint threw the post the way he's supposed to and we ran the same run play again and scored.