MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - If Dana Holgorsen's football team was as strong as his language, West Virginia wouldn't be a .500 team halfway through this third season in charge.
This has nothing to do with how intrusive television cameras sometimes catch blue words coming out of the mouth of the man in black. Nor does it have to do with the temper tantrums Holgorsen has thrown and regretted.
It's about the choice of words he's applied to various parts of these Mountaineers. In one loss, his offensive line was "just bad." The offense has been called "inept." Kickoff returners have been labeled "garbage."
Trust that what Holgorsen has said behind a podium is what he's said behind closed doors in a locker room or a meeting room. So the concern shouldn't be that he's saying these things, but rather why he's sounded off like he has.
The truth is it's the truth and it continued Tuesday. A reporter was trying to find the socially acceptable description for WVU's third-down offense and Holgorsen helped him find it.
"Atrocious," he said.
The Mountaineers are ranked No. 111 in third down offense and have converted only 29.21 percent of the time. A year ago, Maryland had the worst offense in the Football Bowl Subdivision. The Terrapins managed to convert 29.89 percent of their third downs.
The Mountaineers (3-3, 1-2 Big 12) play host to No. 16 Texas Tech (6-0, 3-0) at noon Saturday on Fox Sports 1. The Red Raiders are No. 9 nationally in third down defense (28 conversions in 103 attempts, 27.18 percent).
So it's hard again to dispute Holgorsen's language because it's hard to ignore how it's stunted his offense this season. When at their best, the Mountaineers snap plays off in quick succession and stack first downs atop one another all the way to the end zone.
A year ago, WVU was really good on offense and averaged 28 minutes, 37 seconds of possession per game because the offense could move so fast and effectively. This year, WVU doesn't have the quarterback and the receivers and three of the linemen who knew what to do. One would think time of possession would be far greater with a far more deliberate approach.
It's not far greater. It's exactly the same. It's because WVU has flunked third downs so often.