Time was not on the side of either West Virginia or Towson during their season opening losses to the Alabama Crimson Tide and Central Connecticut State Blue Devils over the weekend.
Both programs kept their respective games close from kickoff through the third quarter, but Alabama and Central Connecticut State used their balanced attack of the run and pass to prevent West Virginia and Towson from making a late comeback in the final quarter.
West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen spoke on the team’s offensive success early in the game versus late in the game during his weekly media conference Tuesday.
“The amount of plays that we had were good for the amount of possessions we had, with the exception of the fourth quarter,” Holgorsen said Tuesday. “We went three-and-out twice, and they were both in the fourth quarter. That quarter, offensively, was bad.”
Alabama moved the chains five times for a first down, both on the ground with TJ Yeldon and Derrick Henry and through the air with Blake Sims, during their four possessions in the quarter. In comparison, the three fourth quarter drives by West Virginia totaled a combined 26 yards, which fell four yards short of a 30-yard drive in the second quarter that ended with a punt by junior Nick O’Toole.
Towson experienced a similar fourth quarter against Central Connecticut State, as the Blue Devils also controlled the ball for 10 of the 15 minutes over the course of three drives, including the game-winning touchdown with less than 40 seconds remaining in the game. Junior quarterback Connor Frazier gave Towson the lead at 27-21 with less than nine minutes to go in the game, but the Central Connecticut State running game chewed the clock too much for a late comeback.
West Virginia needed to perform better in their fourth quarter situations to extend their drives to keep Alabama off the field, as offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson pointed out during his media availability Tuesday at the Milan Puskar Center.
“We’re by far where we want to be, especially in critical situations. For the most part, I thought our execution was pretty good, and the ball was going where it needed to go,” Dawson said. “We’re not going to be 100 percent in every game, but I thought we executed pretty well and gave ourselves a chance to stay in the game. We were happy with the way we put ourselves in those positions, but we were very upset with the way we executed in those critical downs.”
Despite problems with sustaining drives in critical moments, Holgorsen and the coaching staff were pleased with the continued excitement level of the team after suffering the first loss of the season Saturday.
“If they can keep up the effort, energy and that excitement, then we will have a good year,” Holgorsen said. “The one thing that stood out was how we played, not necessarily the result of the game. If we can play like that all year, then we will win a lot of games.”