Delaware State Still Looking for First Win

West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen during the first half/second half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017, in Morgantown, W.Va. (AP Photo/Raymond Thompson)

DOVER, Del. – Let’s face it. Hornets can be pesky at times.

That won’t be the case, however, at noon Saturday when the Hornets from Delaware State University pay their first visit to Milan Puskar Stadium.

Head coach Kenny Carter’s third DSU squad is coming off of a winless (0-11) mark in 2016 and the 1990 graduate of The Citadel has only tasted victory once in his first 24 contests with the Hornets.

Delaware State opened its 2017 campaign with a 22-3 setback to in-state rival Delaware and found itself on the wrong end of a 28-15 decision to Hampton last Friday.

“We respect every opponent we play, I don’t care who it is,” West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen said Monday morning during his weekly Big 12 coaches’ teleconference. “There are plenty of things we need to improve on, which is good news.”

And, if things weren’t bad enough for the Mid-Eastern Atlantic member, it travels to Morgantown to face a West Virginia team (1-1) fresh off of a 56-20 thumping of American Athletic Conference member East Carolina with an offense that is averaging 40 points per game led by a junior quarterback (Will Grier) who has thrown for 723 yards and eight touchdowns in his first two games after a year’s absence from the field.

The only positive that will come out of the two teams first meeting will be the Hornets heading back to Dover with a hefty paycheck in a game scheduled years ago by the two schools’ Director of Athletics.

“It’s not about (Delaware State),” senior linebacker Al-Rasheed Benton explained following WVU’s win over ECU. “It’s about us. We have yet to play as well as we are capable of playing.

“We have got to continue to get better and that begins next Saturday. We are still looking to build depth and, hopefully, this game will allow us to get some important reps for some guys that we know we are going to need when Big 12 play begins.”

So, exactly what can Mountaineers fan expect to see?

Freshman quarterback Jack McDaniels has struggled at times, completing less than 50 percent (27 of 58) attempts for 321 yards and only one interception. But, he has also not thrown a touchdown pass which has put more pressure on the Hornets’ running game.

Problem is, however, the ground game has sputtered as well as sophomore Mike Waters has netted only 76 yards on 22 carries while junior Brycen Alleyne accounting for 67 yards more on 17 attempts.

Defensively, DSU has only surrendered an average of 25 points per game. But, the Hornets’ first two opponents have combined for 871 yards of total offense.

“That (DSU’s defensive stats) mean nothing,” senior running back Justin Crawford said. “We have to look at this game like any other we play. It’s all about us getting better every week. This is game number three and that’s all it is.

“We want to continue to work at correcting the mistakes we made in this game and against Tech. As long as we continue to get better, we will be able to challenge those teams that remain on our schedule.”

About the only positive Carter, who was an assistant coach at Youngstown State before taking over at DSU in 2015, and his staff can pull from their team’s first two games is the punting of freshman Jose Romo-Martinez.

The California native is averaging 45.1 yards per attempt on 14 kicks with a long of 61 yards. Five of his boots came to rest inside the opposition’s 20 yard line while five others traveled more than 50 yards.

∫ West Virginia is 17-0 against schools that play at the NCAA FCS level.

∫ The Mountaineers defeated Youngstown State by a 38-21 margin in 2016.

∫ WVU’s defensive roster includes 17 true freshmen, 12 redshirt freshmen, four sophomores and eight redshirt sophomores.

∫ Delaware State is a four-time Mid-Eastern Atlantic Conference champion and made its first FCS playoff appearance in 2007.

∫ On November 9, 1980, DSU took on QB Neil Lomax and the Portland State Vikings and were defeated 105-0 in the most lopsided loss in Division I-AA football history.