Norfolk St.-West Virginia Preview

BY foxsports • September 6, 2011

West Virginia didn't get four full quarters in its opener to show what new coach Dana Holgorsen's offense can do.

What Holgorsen did see, he didn't necessarily like.

After having their opener shortened due to bad weather, the No. 19 Mountaineers hope for a smoother afternoon when they face FCS opponent Norfolk State on Saturday.

West Virginia's 34-13 win over Marshall on Sunday featured two storm-related delays of 4 hours, 22 minutes, as bad weather affected numerous games across the country. The contest was halted for good with 14:36 remaining in the fourth, with player fatigue and the forecast for more storms major factors in the decision.

"I understand the situation," Holgorsen said. "Everybody wants to play a full game and everybody needs the snaps and it's the first game. ... I think common sense takes place at some point."

Geno Smith threw for 249 yards and two touchdowns as West Virginia scored on five of its eight offensive possessions, but the coach expects improvement starting this week.

"It's a work in progress," Holgorsen told the Mountaineers' official website. "(Marshall) put a lot of people up, they blitzed a lot of people and it's something that we need to handle. I don't think the offense was terrible, but we are going to watch the tape and try to get better."

As offensive coordinator at Oklahoma State last season, Holgorsen helped guide a Cowboys team that averaged 44.2 points and 520.2 yards.

Rain limited the effectiveness of West Virginia's running game Sunday, as the Mountaineers gained 42 yards on the ground. Oklahoma State averaged 174.4 yards rushing in 2010 under Holgorsen.

Freshman Vernard Roberts, who had a 1-yard TD run on what turned out to be the final play, could see additional time this week after starting running back Andrew Buie left in the third quarter after taking a hard hit. He is questionable for Saturday.

"I believe it will get better," Smith said of the running game. "We've got some young backs and this was their first game. ... I think overall they did a great job. They didn't turn the ball over and they were running hard. ... It'll get better, along with our offensive line."

Norfolk State opened the season with a 37-3 win over Virginia State on Saturday. Chris Walley went 25 of 29 for 255 yards and two touchdowns while running for 42 yards on 10 carries. The Spartans gave up only 161 yards of offense - 30 on the ground.

Norfolk State last faced a ranked team in 2007, losing 59-0 to then-No. 13 Rutgers. This will be its fourth matchup with an FBS opponent, none of which have come against West Virginia.


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