Dana Holgorsen is entering his sixth season as head coach of the West Virginia Mountaineers.
Whether or not he has lived up to some lofty expectations has yet to be seen. This, basically, is a make-or-break year for Holgorsen and his status as WVU head coach. He needs to do what he was brought to Morgantown to do.
It seems like he knows that all too well.
At the Big 12 Media Day, Holgorsen stressed that scoring more points is his main priority for the 2016 season.
"“We need to get back to our roots,” Holgorsen told a crowd of reporters in Dallas on Tuesday. “We averaged over 35 points per game last season, but we are going to need to score more than that if we want to be competitive in today’s Big 12.”"
WVU may have averaged 35 points last year, but the Mountaineers were limited to a mark lower than 35 in four of their five losses in 2015. Obviously, when scoring below the average, it’s a recipe for a loss. West Virginia’s low point of the season was only scoring 10 points in a road loss to TCU. The Mountaineers were outscored by 30 points in that lopsided contest.
West Virginia opened the season on a hot streak by scoring its highest amount in those early season games. The Mountaineers put up 44 points against Georgia Southern, 41 points against Liberty and 45 points against Maryland.
Another fast start like that will be key for WVU’s season in 2016. The out-of-conference schedule is a big stiffer this year than that of last season. The Mountaineers will open up with Missouri out of the Southeastern Conference, then play Youngstown State and BYU.
West Virginia will be lucky to surpass 40 points in just one of those games. Even YSU, a FCS opponent, will be anything but a cake walk like it was against Liberty in 2015. The Mountaineers have to play up this season and Holgorsen seems to be in the right mindset to make that happen.
If the Mountaineers are to win more games than last year and score more points than last year, they need top-flight production from their senior quarterback Skyler Howard.
As West Virginia went 8-5, including a 43-42 win over Arizona State in the Cactus Bowl, Howard tossed for a total of 3,145 yards going 221 of 43 through the air. Howard completed 26 touchdown passes and topped out with a long throw of 70 yards.
He may have one of the strongest arms in the Big 12 Conference, if not the entire country. He just has to work on his accuracy and poise under pressure.
"“Having a comfortable pocket and developing a better report with his receivers have been two of the things we has spent a lot of the summer working on,” Holgorsen said of Howard. “But, maintaining the running game we had last year will only serve to help us in the passing game.”"
West Virginia’s 35 points per game in 2015 was an improvement of the 33.5 per game it scored in 2014. The low point of Holgorsen’s career was scoring just 26.3 points in 2013, when the Mountaineers won just four games and missed out on a bowl game.
The high point for Holgorsen was 2012 when the team scored 39.5 points per game in their first season in the Big 12 Conference.