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Holgorsen Not Concerned About Yards Allowed

September 3, 2012
By JIM ELLIOTT - Staff Writer (elliott@theintelligencer.net) , The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

MORGANTOWN - To the naked eye, brand new defensive coordinator Joe DeForest's debut was something of a bust.

West Virginia's defense gave up 545 yards, 28 first downs, and 34 points. That's probably not the type of letup that's going to win many games, unless the offense scores 69 points and the game is basically over at halftime, like it was Saturday against Marshall.

But ...

"As far as how many yards we gave up, that's not something we're going to be too concerned with at this point," head coach Dana Holgorsen said. "The football got kinda sloppy there in the second half, both on offense and defense. It's more about evaluating each and every position to see what we have to do to get better between now and two weeks."

DeForest and his staff, which includes co-coordinator Keith Patterson, will have two weeks to iron out some of the kinks, as the Mountaineers are off next week before taking on James Madison at Fed-Ex Field on Sept. 15.

"I thought we did some good things and some bad things, obviously," DeForest said. "We created two turnovers, that was good. We've got to make some adjustments, obviously. I think our kids played really hard. We had some breakdowns at times. That happens with the first game, the nerves of our kids, and we had some young guys playing.

"I know we're not satisfied with the points allowed. We have to play better, whether our backs are against the wall or not."

More than the yards, DeForest said, the concern is about getting off the field on third down and creating turnovers.

The third-down conversion rate was a mixed bag. Marshall was 6 of 11 in the first half and 3 of 8 in the second half, finishing at 9 of 19. As far as those turnovers go, DeForest says the goal is to get three per game, including three-and-outs, which are basically turnovers in and of themselves, he said. The Mountaineers forced Marshall into three of those, including two in its first three drives.

A final factor here is time of possession.

By the time the game had ended, West Virginia's defenders were on the field more than five minutes longer than the Thundering Herd's. It's a product of the WVU offense producing five touchdown drives of under two minutes.

DeForest is used to that from his days at Oklahoma State, where they ran the same offense. He did the math and figured out his Cowboys defenders were on the field for two-and-a-half more games than national champion Alabama's after 13 games last season.

As it was, Marshall averaged only 2.9 yards on 45 carries, and that's the type of defense that does win games.