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WVU Football: Five “Must Improve” Areas On Offense - Offensive Efficiency

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As fall camp opens, the Mountaineers look to overcome the program’s worst season since 2001. Offensive efficiency needs to greatly improve.

Kevin White gets the ball stripped against OU last season.
Kevin White gets the ball stripped against OU last season.
Brett Deering

This is the third in a series of five articles that discuss WVU's offense.  This article covers offensive effectiveness.

Efficiency...Or Not

By any measurement, last season's offense was a below average unit.  Dana Holgorsen has never coached an offense with so little firepower.  Nationally, Holgorsen's Mountaineers ranked 79th in scoring, 82nd in rushing, 34th in passing and 62nd in total offense.  Production dropped off to the dreaded Jeff Mullen days.  This series of articles has discussed how average to below average offensive line and quarterback play contributed to low scoring production.  Another problem that resulted in WVU's offensive woes involved efficiency.  The offense simply couldn't sustain drives.  Here are the efficiency statistics from last season:

2013 Offensive Efficiency**

Game

Drives

3 and outs

Turnovers

Punts

Turnover on Downs

Missed FGs

Scoring Drives

William&Mary

13

4

1

5

0

1

3 TDs/1 FG

@ Oklahoma

14

5

3

7

1

0

1 TD

Georgia State

13

1

1

7

1

1

5 TDs/2 FGs

Maryland***

14

3

6

8

0

0

0

Oklahoma St

19

5

2

8

0

2

2 TDs/3 FGs

@ Baylor

16

6

2

7

4

0

4 TDs

Texas Tech

13

5

1

5

2

0

3 TDs/2 FGs

@ Kansas State

13

2

3

5

2

0

1 TD/2 FGs

@ TCU

16

1

2

7

0

0

3 TDs/3 FGs

Texas

18

6

5

7

1

0

5 TDs/1 FG

@ Kansas

15

4

2

8

1

1

3 TDs

Iowa State

18

3

4

3

2

1

4 TDs/3 FGs

Totals

182

45

32

73

14

6

34 TDs/17 FGs

**Includes six possessions at end of half/game

***Neutral site game in Baltimore

WVU scored on only 51 of 182 drives.  That's 28% of the time the Mountaineers had the football (for an efficiency rating of 0.28).  In other words, WVU only scored on a little over one out of every four possessions. For comparison purposes, WVU almost had as many three and outs (45) as scoring drives (51).

WVU Kept Pace With Conference Big Boys, But Couldn't Score

How do these numbers compare to last season's Big 12 Conference teams?  The next chart will examine how Big 12 teams performed in conference play.  Non-conference games have intentionally been removed to keep strength of schedule issues from skewing the stats.

2013 Big 12 Offensive Efficiency - Conference Games [conference rank in brackets]

Team

Drives

Turnovers

Punts

Turnover on Downs

Missed FGs

Scoring Drives (TDs/FGs)

Efficiency Factor

Baylor

140 [4]

12 [1]

39 [2]

8 [7]

7

69 (56/13)     [1]

0.49 [1]

Oklahoma

113 [10]

14 [2]

48 [4]

4 [2]

3

46 (30/16)     [6]

0.41 [2]

Oklahoma St

142 [1]

14 [2]

61 [7]

5 [4]

5

54 (45/9)       [2]

0.38 [4]

Texas Tech

137 [7]

24 [8]

47 [3]

8 [7]

4

51 (36/15)      [3]

0.37 [6]

Texas

129 [8]

16 [4]

53 [5]

6 [5]

2

49 (32/17)      [4]

0.38 [4]

Kansas State

118 [9]

18 [5]

38 [1]

1 [1]

3

48 (38/10)      [5]

0.41 [2]

TCU

139 [5]

26 [10]

67 [8]

6 [5]

3

32 (23/9)        [9]

0.23 [9]

Iowa State

141 [3]

19 [7]

69 [9]

4 [2]

3

37 (27/10)      [8]

0.26 [8]

Kansas

138 [6]

18 [5]

70 [10]

16 [10]

4

23 (15/8)       [10]

0.17 [10]

WVU

142 [1]

24 [8]

57 [6]

13 [9]

4

40 (26/14)      [7]

0.28 [7]

As seen above, the Mountaineer offense really struggled in both non-conference and Big 12 play.  WVU scored on only 28% its drives.  That lowly efficiency rating ranked the Mountaineers seventh in the Big 12, ahead of only Iowa State, TCU and Kansas.

It is no coincidence that all four teams with low offensive efficiency - WVU, Iowa St, TCU and Kansas - did not qualify for post-season play.

Last season, there was an almost 10% disparity between WVU and the conference's sixth most efficient team - Texas Tech.  Bowl participant teams possessed offenses that scored almost 40% of the time.  That's two out of every five drives.

The irony of these offensive efficiency statistics is that Dana Holgorsen's team led the Big 12 Conference in opportunities to score.  WVU tied Oklahoma State for first place with 142 offensive possessions.

Unfortunately, WVU couldn't do anything with these opportunities.  The Mountaineers ranked sixth in punts, seventh in scoring drives, eighth in turnovers lost and ninth in turnovers on downs.

WVU Offensive Efficiency:  A Recent History

The next chart shows how WVU offenses have fared over the last ten seasons.

Year

Drives

Turnovers

Punts

Turnover on Downs

Missed FGs

Scoring Drives (TDs/FGs)

Efficiency Rating

2013

182

32

73

14

6

51 (34/17)

0.28

2012

177

13

45

18

8

80 (69/11)

0.45

2011

181

22

56

9

6

79 (63/16)

0.44

2010

165

28

67

7

7

52 (42/10)

0.32

2009

169

25

64

9

2

56 (43/13)

0.33

2008

162

16

62

9

3

55 (38/17)

0.34

2007

174

21

49

9

6

81 (68/13)

0.47

2006

156

17

35

4

5

82 (65/17)

0.53

2005

158

17

57

5

7

61 (50/11)

0.39

2004

156

22

56

9

8

59 (47/12)

0.38

Last season's Mountaineers possessed the worst offense of the last ten years.  That is hard to do when one recalls the three seasons when Jeff Mullen dismantled WVU's high powered offense.  Remember, Dana Holgorsen was brought to Morgantown to revitalize the Mountaineer's attack.

Diagnosis

Last season, WVU struggled on offense for numerous reasons.

First, all three quarterbacks lacked starting experience for WVU.  That's what happens when an NFL caliber player like Geno Smith runs the offense for three years.

Second, the offense lacked experience - particularly at the skill positions.  WVU only returned two starters from 2012.  Both were linemen.  All skill position players, with the exception of Ivan McCartney, had never started for WVU.  Houston transfer and now NFL running back Charles Sims could not be a one man show.  Meanwhile, junior college transfers Dreamius Smith, Mario Alford and Kevin White saw their first FBS action.

Third, the offensive line, combined with an inexperienced backfield, failed to protect WVU's quarterbacks.  The offense allowed 28 sacks.  Millard, Trickett and Childress often lacked the time needed to find open receivers.

Fourth, accuracy and injury issues plagued the Mountaineer quarterbacks.  Quarterbacks missed receivers in critical third down situations.

Fifth, the offense couldn't stay on the field.  The offensive line couldn't push forward the line of scrimmage in short yardage situations.  Receivers dropped numerous passes.  Turnovers killed drives.

Whatever could go wrong often did.

Prognosis

In Lindy's Sports College Football 2014 Preview, an anonymous Big 12 coach summed up WVU's offensive problems in the following statement:

"Dana is figuring out that this head coaching stuff ain't easy.  West Virginia's got some personnel problems on offense, and he knows it...We know what Dana wants to do on offense.  But he doesn't have the people to do it.  It's that simple."

That statement summed up last season.   But does it hold true in 2014?

Much work needs to be done to make Dana Holgorsen's offense a respectable and relevant unit.

The Mountaineers return six starters and plenty of experience as they begin their third Big 12 campaign.

Quinton Spain and Mark Glowinski anchor a young line that has game experience.  Trickett has had a full year to comprehend Holgorsen's offense.   The receivers need to show improvement.  At the Big 12 Media Days in Dallas, Holgorsen stated that Trickett has "built the communication needed with his receivers" to make the offense effective.  The backfield possesses plenty of talent, depth and experience.

This experience needs to translate into greater offensive efficiency.

If experience translates into improvement, then the Mountaineer's prospects for a winning record greatly improve.

Tomorrow's article discusses offensive red zone efficiency.

As always,

Let's Go, Mountaineers!

Series Links:

1.       Offensive Line Play

2.       Quarterback Play

3.       Efficiency

4.       Red Zone Efficiency

5.       Turnovers

*Information/stats for this article come from the following sources:  wvusports.com, cfbstats.com, ncaa.com, WVUStats.com, philsteele.com, espn.go.com, Phil Steele's 2014 College Football Preview, Lindy's Sports College Football 2014 Preview, Athlon Sports College Football 2014 National Edition, and USA Today Sports 2014 College Football Preview.