Luck Impressed With Bowl Win
By John Antonik for WVUsports.com
January 17, 2012 11:41 AM
|Dana Holgorsen's Mountaineer offense put up the most points in Orange Bowl history earlier this month.
|All-Pro Photography/Dale Sparks photo
As Dana Holgorsen’s offense moved up and down the field seemingly at will against Clemson in the 2012 Discover Orange Bowl, there was one person sitting in the press box at Sun Life Stadium who could see this coming – Oliver Luck, the man responsible for bringing Holgorsen to West Virginia University in the first place.
“That is what that offense is capable of - and not to say that we are going to score 70 points per game because we won’t, that’s not realistic - but when the pieces work together, and also to a certain degree, when the team has time to plan and prepare …,” Luck said before being interrupted by his ringing cell phone.
“Clemson is a pretty good team,” he continued. “They had their ups and downs and they weren’t consistent, much like our guys.”
Like the rest of us, Luck initially thought the Orange Bowl was going to be a shootout.
“I thought whoever breaks serve is going to win this thing, but our defense created some turnovers which was able to turn the tide,” said Luck. “I think the (offensive) scheme was just spot on. Clemson had some speed and we countered with a lot of misdirection and a couple of things they really hadn’t seen before, and that’s a credit to the coaching staff for putting their thinking caps on and really attacking Clemson.”
There were times this year when Holgorsen’s offense wasn’t clicking on all cylinders for one reason or another, but Luck knew it was just a matter of time before everything came together.
And it did in an unimaginable way on a cool, January night in Miami.
“I think through the course of the season you could see bits and pieces of it coming together for certain stretches – a couple series here, a quarter there, or whatever,” Luck said. “I think everybody would acknowledge that we hadn’t put a full game together, particularly during the end of the year when we were struggling a little bit offensively.”
Part of that was dealing with new players, part of that was dealing with some attrition, and part of that was working with players not specifically recruited for his system. Yet despite all of these obstacles, Holgorsen was able to mesh together an offense that ended the season averaging 12 points and nearly 100 yards more per game than last year’s.
“Dana knows his system, he can take almost any talent and group of kids and unleash the system after a certain time period because there is some teaching involved and it doesn’t always work,” Luck explained.
Luck, an ex-NFL quarterback and pro football executive, knew that quarterback Geno Smith and wide receiver Tavon Austin would eventually thrive in Holgorsen’s system.
“This is a dream come true for a guy like him,” Luck said of West Virginia’s junior quarterback. “I told him a year ago when Dana came on board, I said, ‘Geno you’re going to love this.’ I said the same thing to Tavon. ‘Just give it time. You have to understand it and you’ve got to be disciplined and do things with discipline as the offense requires, but once you get the hang of it it’s going to be a blast.’
“I don’t think it’s the final product,” Luck added. “We’ve got a lot of work to do - and he does. We need to plug in a lot of different position kids to get there, but (the Clemson win) was certainly indicative of what the future holds.”
Luck believes Holgorsen’s system will continue to evolve at WVU, especially as he continues to bring more quarterbacks into the program familiar with his system.
“Ultimately, quarterbacks coming out of high school are so much better prepared for college than they were 20, 30 years ago,” Luck explained. “High schools are doing a little bit of this stuff. Dana is a little bit of a guru in Texas because there are a ton of high school coaches that have lifted his offense, and may have had to make modifications because of some things high school kids can’t quite do yet, but I think the kids coming out are more prepared for something like this.”
Luck concedes that there are many different ways to move the football, but Holgorsen’s way of doing things is particularly appealing for football fans to watch. And coming off a 70-point performance in a BCS bowl game is a great launching pad for the Mountaineer program in 2012.
“This is certainly an entertaining offense,” said Luck. “It’s not the only way to put points up on the board but it’s a fun, attractive style of football that people like to watch, and it does put us in a pretty good position as we move forward.”
Less than two weeks after the bowl game, Luck says the excitement is already building for next season.
“The buzz is as high as it was, I suppose, after the Oklahoma Fiesta Bowl or after the Georgia Sugar Bowl game. People are jazzed up,” he said. “There is a lot of excitement and it comes at a perfect time.
“This came on a big stage. Getting to a BCS bowl is not easy,” Luck mentioned. “We’ve been fortunate to be in the three that we’ve been in and won all three: big stage, millions of viewers, yeah, it can’t hurt anything. It’s going to be positive all the way across the board.
“In a sense what we saw is indicative of what this offense can be in Dana’s second season, particularly with Geno and Tavon coming back,” Luck concluded.
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