Blocking deficiencies take toll on offense

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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- There is one clear message Dana Holgorsen will try to get across to his offense at West Virginia this week.

It starts with a B and ends with a better running game: Blocking.

Holgorsen spoke at length Tuesday about his disappointment in his team's blocking against Marshall Sunday.

The poor performance led to an inferior running attack that gained 42 yards and allowed too much pressure on quarterback Geno Smith.

"The blocking was a huge disappointment," said Holgorsen. "When you think about blocking, you think about the O-line, that's not always true. Some of it was running backs not blocking, some of the problem was inside receivers. Our perimeter blocking was every bit as bad as the O-line blocking."

The Mountaineers gained 1.6 yards per rush Sunday as running plays broke down quickly and 26 carries amounted to 42 yards.

Freshman Andrew Buie struggled to gain 30 yards on 15 carries, and freshman Vernard Roberts picked up 7 on three.

  • Who: West Virginia (1-0) vs. Norfolk State (1-0), 1 p.m.
  • Where: Mountaineer Field, Morgantown, W.Va.
  • TV: Root Sports

Players watched tape Monday and saw the evidence.

"They were yelling at us about some of the blocking and, once you see it on film, the eye in the sky doesn't lie," said inside receiver Tyler Urban, a converted tight end. "It really showed we did need to work on blocking. It would've helped us a lot more, it would've helped the running backs and opened up the whole offense on various plays if we would've blocked outside."

Urban and his teammates said it's not a matter of assignments or ability, but mostly effort and execution that needs to be fixed.

"Coach Holgorsen, he likes effort," said Urban. "We didn't show our full effort on some of the blocking. Even if you're backside away from the play, he wants you blocking, making an effort to block. It's just something we need to work on."

The pass protection was better, so the offense rolled up 249 passing yards.

The problem, said right tackle Pat Eger, was simply a matter of finishing blocks.

"It's our job to make big holes and protect the running backs so they don't get hit," said Eger. "Really, we were on the right people but need to stay on the blocks longer ... that gives more time for the receivers to get open and Geno to make his reads.

"We want to give Geno as long a time in the pocket as he wants."

Ditto for the outside receivers.

Stedman Bailey and Ivan McCartney scored touchdowns, got open and racked up 76 and 31 receiving yards, respectively.

"They both caught balls, made some plays. That's half the game," said Holgorsen. "The other half is playing fast without the ball. Like I've mentioned approximately 275 times, we've got to block better."

NOTES -- West Virginia moved up five places in The Associated Press Top 25 poll to No. 19 and cracked the USA Today coaches' poll at No. 24. ... Athletic director Oliver Luck said 20,000 beers were sold at Mountaineer Field Sunday, the debut of alcohol sales in the stadium. ... He said he does not know where ESPN got its information that a fan was struck by lightning during one of the weather delays. The school and state police officials said Sunday the report was inaccurate. Luck said he has not pressed the issue with ESPN. "I don't know where that came from. It was simply untrue," he said. ... Holgorsen said he will know more about Buie's status today. Buie left the game with a bruise in the third quarter after a rough hit.

"The blocking was a huge disappointment. ... Some of it was running backs not blocking, some of the problem was inside receivers. Our perimeter blocking was every bit as bad as the [offensive line]."

-- Dana Holgorsen, West Virginia coach

Jen Menendez: or 412-263-1959.


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