NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - OCTOBER 29: West Virginia Mountaineers head coach Dana Holgorsen looks on during a game against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights at High Point Solutions Stadium on October 29, 2011 in New Brunswick, New Jersey. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
This coming football season, now just t-minus 2 days away, represents the third time in West Virginia Head Coach Dana Holgorsen’s career that he has had the opportunity get a second year with an offense of his creation. It has happened previously at two different stops along his coaching path – Texas Tech in 2007, and Houston in 2009. I thought it might be instructive, and perhaps predictive, to take a look at how those second go-rounds went for Coach Holgorsen, and what it might mean for this year’s highly-anticipated edition of the Mountaineers.
The best way to look at what might be termed a glut of information is with a chart. Here goes:
Some might consider it debatable that the 2007 Texas Tech offense belongs to Holgorsen, since Air Raid originator Mike Leach was the head coach, but assuming that Holgorsen did at least partially hold the reins, we see the most substantial improvement in the whole chart. The team improved its pass yards by 100 yards per game (an increase of 27 percent) as its rush yards diminished a bit, ran 11 more plays per game, and scored almost nine points more per game (an increase of 26 percent). Most impressive to the gambler in me, is the reduction by 1.2 yards in yards-per-point: a stat directly related to an offense’s efficiency. The lower the number, the fewer yards the team had to travel for the points it scored.
The offense he ran at Houston was pretty prolific to begin with, so there are no radical percentage bumps to be seen (a 7 percent increase in pass yards, a 4 percent increase in scoring), but there are improvements in every number but rush yards and yards-per-play. And again, there is a significant lowering of the yards-per-point figure.
You will notice above that I threw in the second year of Holgorsen’s offense at Oklahoma State as well. Granted, he wasn’t there game-planning, or calling the plays, but I don’t think they altered much of what they did in 2010, and all of the Cowboys numbers, except, again, for rush yards, went up: a 12 percent increase in pass yards, a 6 percent increase in total yards, a 10 percent increase in scoring, and a reduction of almost half a yard in yards-per-point. What does this mean for the 2012 Mountaineers? If past history is any indicator of future trends, it would appear that WVU will:
--average 75 plays a game.
--get anywhere from a 7-to-27 percent increase in pass yardage, which means, based on last years’ numbers, that the Mountaineers will average between 370 and 439 yards through the air.
--see its rushing yards flatten or dip (although Holgorsen’s offenses from 2008-2010 were not anything like the anemic ones Texas Tech fielded).
-- get anywhere from a 4-to-26 percent increase in scoring, which translates to an average of between 39 and 47 points per game.
--see its yards-per-point figure drop by at least a half yard, and by perhaps as much 1.2 yards. (Any number under 12 is excellent, and below 11.5 is usually among the top 5 in the nation)
Lastly, Holgorsen’s second-year offenses got me thinking about defensive coordinator Joe DeForest’s first-year defenses. Sadly, there are no stats to report, since this is his first DC job. I suspect though, that our defense will not nearly be as stingy as some of those in recent memory. Whereas Casteel’s defenses were built around a bend-but-don’t break philosophy that sought to keep opponents’ scores low, DeForest’s defensive philosophy seems to center around creating more possessions for a prolific offense via the takeaway. DeForest told the Charleston Gazette this in early August: "(Turnovers are) important to (our defense) and they understand that if we give our offense three more possessions a game that we’ll be a lot better football team."
Goodbye 24-17, Trench Warfare. Hello 58-38 Air Show.