MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- The story you're about to read is one that under ordinary circumstances would not have been written.
As it is, though, West Virginia completed just 19 passes in Saturday's win against William & Mary. In Dana Holgorsen's previous 79 games as an offensive coordinator or a head coach in charge of calling plays, only twice were there fewer completions.
Paul Millard, the junior making his first start, finished with but 237 yards passing. Since 2007, Holgorsen's teams have topped that 72 times and matched it once.
And honestly, we shouldn't be having this discussion. The Mountaineers left an awful lot on the field, as many teams are prone to do in the opening game of the season, let alone one with a new starting quarterback, a backup promised snaps and so many new receivers.
"Paul did a good job distributing the ball," Holgorsen said. "We didn't make any plays. We caught a ball or two and fell down. That's what I saw."
This is not to say Millard was deprived of a 500-yard game, which would have been the ninth for Holgorsen in his career. Rather, it's a walking-and-falling illustration that WVU has much to work on before Saturday's 7 p.m. Fox game against No. 16 Oklahoma at Memorial Stadium.
The Mountaineers (1-0) didn't take many shots deep against a Tribe defense that put three safeties on top of a cautions game plan, but the receivers didn't really do a lot underneath that plan, either.
Take, as an example, Mario Alford. He was regarded among WVU's most exciting recruits, to say nothing of one of the nation's better junior college transfers. The inside receiver, slowed by an injury and the learning curve that was sharper for him because he arrived shortly before the start of camp, had a chance to make the play the offense needed in the second quarter.
Clint Trickett stepped back and quickly read Alford's route, the opening in the defense and Alford's pending encounter with a safety.
"That," offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson said, "could have been a huge play."
Could have been, because it was not. Trickett hit Alford in the hands before the ball hit the ground.
"The safety is 10 yards away and the ball gets there quick," Dawson said. "If he catches it and keeps his feet and he doesn't make the safety miss, we've got a problem. But he's one-on-one with the safety. The only way that safety makes the play is if Mario runs right into him, which he isn't going to do."
Maybe it was just that play, as opposed to that player. Freshman Daikiel Shorts, who snagged seven receptions in his first game, ran the same route on the same play at another point in the game.
He caught the pass and was tackled by his cleats.