MORGANTOWN - The overriding reason Coach Dana Holgorsen was brought to West Virginia was because Athletic Director Oliver Luck saw the offenses Holgorsen conducted at Houston and Oklahoma State, and wanted the same for the Mountaineers.
And Luck knew Holgorsen could do it fast. It just hasn't been as fast at WVU.
In two seasons at Houston, Holgorsen helped the Cougars rank Nos. 10 and 1 in scoring offense, Nos. 2 and 1 in passing offense and Nos. 2 and 1 in total offense. In 2010, his only season at Oklahoma State, Holgorsen coordinated an offense that was No. 3 in scoring, No. 2 in passing and No. 3 in total offense.
He's done it again at WVU, where things are different and better for the WVU offense, but where the success hasn't been as immediate or as emphatic.
Oh, the Mountaineers were No. 67 in total offense last season (367.27 yards per game) and No. 78 in scoring offense (25.2 points per game). They're now No. 13 in total offense (479.4) and No. 16 in scoring (36.5). Holgorsen has done for Geno Smith, Stedman Bailey and Tavon Austin what he did for quarterbacks and receivers before them.
Yet Holgorsen coaches the 11th game of his first season with the Mountaineers (7-3, 3-2 Big East) here at 7 p.m. Friday against Pitt (5-5, 3-2) and says things haven't gone quite as expected because things haven't gone as fast as expected.
"I've changed quite a bit in what the play calling is and how fast it gets done and the amount of plays that we're running," he said. "All that stuff is a little different than what I've been used to."
He said his first season with the Mountaineers is not like what it was with the Cougars and Cowboys, but like it was when he joined the Texas Tech staff in 2000.
Houston Coach Kevin Sumlin wanted Holgorsen to run his offense, but to hurry it up as much as possible. Oklahoma State Coach Mike Gundy then wanted to have what Holgorsen did at Houston.
"The (previous) philosophies offensively at Houston and Oklahoma State were similar," Holgorsen said. "There were guys that were used to doing things similar to how we run them. The personnel was in place to where we could handle that.
"We're not there offensively. It goes back to Texas Tech when we were changing a lot of philosophies and changing the way things were done offensively."
Holgorsen and Coach Mike Leach were just beginning with the Red Raiders in 2000 and needed time to find the players that would allow them to hit their stride. To the end, they never played as consistently quick as Holgorsen's offenses did at Houston and Oklahoma State.