Holgorsen's offense poses challenge

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It’s not every day a quarterback passes for almost half a mile, guiding his offense to more than 807 total yards. However, if the feat were going to be accomplished, West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen’s air-it-out offense would be the likely gateway. Last Saturday, Geno Smith, West Virginia quarterback and Heisman frontrunner, burned Baylor for 656 passing yards, and 8 touchdowns, en route to a 70-63 victory. 

Even though the Big 12 is known for spread-style offenses, Holgorsen was well aware of his team’s feat last weekend.

“Not every Big 12 game is like this,” Holgorsen said following the game.

And he would know best after stints at Oklahoma State and Texas Tech as offensive coordinator.

With West Virginia heading to Austin Saturday, let’s take a look at how Texas has fared against Holgorsen-coached offenses.

In 2005 Holgorsen’s first season with offensive coordinator duties at Texas Tech, the No. 10 Red Raiders visited Austin only to be dealt a 52-17 loss. Tech quarterback Cody

Hodges was coming off a 643-yard performance the week before but only managed 369 yards against the Longhorns’ defense. Overall the Red Raiders eked out 468 total yards, averaging 5.8 yards per pass.

The next year, Texas headed to Lubbock and struggled with a 21-point deficit in the first half. While Texas eventually rallied back to win the game 35-31, the game was deemed more of an escape. The Red Raiders, behind sophomore quarterback Graham Harrell, put up 518 yards of offense, 519 through the air and -1 via the ground. Harrell threw all three of his touchdowns in the first half as the Texas defense gave up 10 plays of 16 yards or longer all before the half.

“Everything he did was right. The right throw, the right receiver, the right route,” former cornerback Aaron Ross said. It goes to show how disciplined a Holgorsen-coached quarterback is.

In 2007 the Red Raiders came back to Austin and, in Holgorsen fashion, tallied 476 total yards, 466 of them through the air. Harrell sought revenge from the previous year throwing five touchdowns but ultimately came up short, as Tech lost 59-43 behind the Longhorns’ 551 total yards of offense.

Texas had a two-year breather from Holgorsen when the coach headed to Houston for the 2008 and 2009 seasons. However, the offensive mastermind re-emerged at Oklahoma State in 2010 as the offensive coordinator. The No. 10 Cowboys visited the 40 Acres and dropped 532 yards of offense on the Longhorns’ defense en route to a 33-16 victory.

Behind junior quarterback Brandon Weeden’s 409 passing yards, the Cowboys snapped a 12-year losing streak to the Longhorns.

Holgorsen-coached offenses average 499 yards against Texas, 441 of those yards through the air. However, the Longhorns have always held their own, averaging 459 yards through those four games, and have an overall 4-1 record against the offensive guru.

While the Longhorns have found success against Holgorsen-mentored teams, the Mountaineers squad visiting Austin Saturday is arguably his best ever. Behind Smith, the school’s all-time passing yardage, touchdown passes and completions leader, West Virginia is averaging 442 yards through the air, with help from arguably the nation’s two best receivers, Stedman Bailey and Tavon Austin, who have 17 touchdowns and 1,195 yards between each of them.

If the Longhorns’ defense isn’t ready for a track meet Saturday, Holgorsen and company will fly out of Austin with another victory.

Printed on Wednesday, October 3, 2012 as: Holgorsen's offenses test Texas