The Mountaineers ran the ball 110 times and passed it 109 times the first three games as they invested in the talent of Houston transfer Charles Sims, junior college transfer Dreamius Smith and freshman Wendell Smallwood.
"We knew we weren't very good offensively at the beginning of the year," Holgorsen said. "We felt like we needed to keep improving."
It was to continue against a Maryland defense that entered with a NCAA-best 14 sacks. WVU intended to run and finished with 25 runs and 22 plays - and having just 47 snaps and two conversions on 12 third downs is a major problem.
Yet the offense did very little with the run, averaging 2.3 yards in the first half, when Maryland led 30-0, and 3.1 yards after three quarters. WVU finished with 113 yards rushing and 4.5 yards per carry, but 30- and 52-yard runs in the fourth quarter inflated the average.
"I thought we played incredibly poorly up front, probably as bad as we've ever played offensive line-wise," Holgorsen said.
The Mountaineers believed they'd have success with the run because Maryland would try to help their starting cornerbacks, both starting in place of injured starters. WVU would then have more blockers than defenders on run plays.
"We thought they were going to bump people out of the box, so we needed to run the ball," Dawson said. "Then we thought we needed to attack the flats because they didn't really adjust to (the run and bring people inside), and we did at times.
"Then they started to get a little more aggressive and take that away, but we never hurt them in those areas and we couldn't get them to come up in the secondary to play off (the receivers) for a majority of the game because we never established the run or the perimeter game."
WVU's trouble is beyond the quarterback, the offensive line and the receivers. The problem is that each of those has problems.
"We've got open people, at times," Dawson said. "The frustrating thing is sometimes the quarterback overthrows him and sometimes he makes a bad throw. Sometime we completely whiff up front.
"Everybody is taking their turns. It's not like we can pinpoint one deal like, 'OK, this is the issue.' We've got to grow up as an offense. We've got to grow up and start making plays."
Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at mi...@dailymail.com or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs'dailymail.com/wvu.