MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- Dana Holgorsen's lofty, oft top-ranked offense is No. 109 out of 120 FBS teams in rushing yards per game and actually worse, by one slot, in yards per attempt.
Holgorsen doesn't concern himself with the present rankings as much as the eventual reality.
"I don't care if we're No. 120," the West Virginia football coach said. "If we're able to run the ball when we need to be able to and not let them dictate what we do, either run it or throw it, than we've accomplished our goal."
The 18th-ranked Mountaineers, who have 144 yards in two games and average 2.4 per attempt, don't need a big number in Saturday's noon ESPNU game at Maryland (1-0). They just need numbers when they need numbers.
WVU (2-0) is not going to be a top-tier rushing offense in the country and might not be in the top half of the Big East because WVU is able to and ought to do great things with the pass. Geno Smith might not have a Justin Blackmon or a Michael Crabtree at his disposal yet and it might never be that way this season, but he has a Tavon Austin and an Ivan McCartney, he has a Devon Brown and a Stedman Bailey. He may eventually have a Ryan Nehlen and a Brad Starks.
And that doesn't even count a Tyler Urban, who caught around 1,200 passes in spring practice and has thus far caught only three, though one was for a touchdown.
But WVU is also not going to be an offense that can continue to win with 42 yards rushing or with Smith passing for 371 yards and four touchdowns. OK, the latter may be true, but to make that happen, the Mountaineers must at least scare people closer to the line of scrimmage. They must be able to score on one of the six plays run from the 1-yard line. They must be able to convert a fourth-and-short, be it at midfield or in the red zone.
Either that, or they must accept the consequences.
"This is all about be efficient and not letting the defense dictate being one-sided," Holgorsen said. "With rushing yards, you've got to get a back that can make some people miss. You've got to get guys up front blocking people and sustaining blocks. Same thing on the perimeter. Guys have to sustain blocks.
"How many yards we're rushing for is not nearly as important as making them respect the fact we're able to run the ball. If they're going to come into game knowing we're not going to run the ball, they're going to drop eight (defenders) all the time and that's a challenge to our offense."
Figure the Terrapins, who are coached by noted defensive strategist Randy Edsall, will seek to stop WVU's pass until WVU proves it can run. Consistently. If the Mountaineers fail again, imagine what No. 3 LSU and its rotation of SEC linemen can devise to disarm Smith and the passing game.
If you don't think that's a concern, consider this: Norfolk State, a FCS team, played a very transparent defense because it knew - as opposed to prayed or hoped - the Mountaineers could not run the ball.