West Virginia Mountaineers Head Coach Dana Holgorsen is known for his pass heavy style of offense known as the Air Raid, but has shown he is not afraid to use the run.
In the first five games of the season WVU passed the ball 204 times, while rushing only 89 times. Since then, in the previous six games, WVU passed 262 times but ran 148 times.
For those who aren’t math people, in the first five games there were 115 more passes than runs from the WVU offense, and after that 114. So over the course of the season, it appears as though coach Holgorsen has stuck to this pass heavy offense.
However, against the Iowa State Cyclones, the Mountaineers had more rushing attempts than passing attempts.
WVU won the game, but not by much. Iowa State had the 70th rushing defense in the country entering the game, and the 110th passing defense in the country, but the wind in Ames was bad, and the temperature felt like 11 degrees.
It makes since in conditions like that to run the ball, but it concerns me because it seems as though the coach may have lost some faith in his pass offense. There were certainly a few poorly thrown balls by quarterback Geno Smith, but there were also a number of very well thrown balls as well.
While WVU had success running the football, it gained nearly as many passing yards as rushing yards, which makes me wonder how close this game would have been if WVU had passed even more.
What this game showed me more than anything though, is that coach Holgorsen is not afraid to run the ball. He is a pass first coach, but will run the ball if the situation calls for it. This game is a great example of that.
Holgorsen has seemed to force the run a lot this season to try and set up the pass, whether it is working or not, and seems to be more comfortable with the idea of using the run to help create a balanced attack.
It’s most likely the weather conditions in Ames that caused this change in strategy, but it will be something to watch for in the last game of the season and into next season.
This is especially noteworthy considering the Mountaineers will have a new starting quarterback next season and will most likely lose a number of the offensive weapons they have now. If WVU has better rushing weapons than passing weapons will Holgorsen be willing to give up the air raid for a more balanced attack?