Inexperienced University High offensive line continues to struggle

MORGANTOWN — University High’s Logan Holgorsen still compiled 637 yards passing and eight touchdowns the last two weeks against Brooke and Wheeling Park, but with issues along the offensive line, the senior quarterback has been running for his life on nearly every snap.

Against the Bruins on Sept. 7, high snaps plagued the Hawks’ offense as Holgorsen constantly had to reach above and around his head to bring the ball down, or worst case, had it fly over his head as he had to scramble to recovery the fumble.

After the game, head coach John Kelley didn’t hide his displeasure with the play of his center.

“I’m just beyond frustrated with the snapping of the ball,” he said. “Every play starts with the snap and we can’t even get one close to where we need to put it. If we could, we would have scored 30 points in the first half and not looked back.”

A week later on Friday night, not only was the snapping issue unresolved, but the entire play of the offensive line struggled against Wheeling Park.

Holgorsen made play after play while scrambling in the backfield, hooking up many times with top targets Amir Richardson and Evan Parow. The Hawks scored 38 points, but readjustments by Holgorsen and running back Ben Gribble were a big reason for the offensive outburst.

Leading by 11 points in the fourth quarter, poor snaps, missed blocks and blitz pickups finally proved costly. The Patriots scored to pull within five and on UHS’s next possession, Holgorsen and Gribble had a tough time with the handoff and Wheeling Park recovered the fumble.

The Patriots scored seven plays later to take the lead.

With 29 seconds left, the Hawks had one more short, but Holgorsen was sacked twice and fumbled on the last play of the game, returned for a touchdown to give the Patriots a 45-38 win at Mylan Pharmaceuticals Stadium.

While praising Holgorsen’s resiliency, Kelley knows offensive line, filled with inexperience and underclassmen, is struggling.

“The bottom line is we can’t protect him,” Kelley said. “We might as well not even put a line out there. They had a nice game plan with the blitzes, but we didn’t have an answer for it.”

Liam Scardina-Fowler is the only returning starter from last season and depth was a major concern in the preseason, and it’s reared its head so far through four games for UHS (2-2).

“I tried to tell the guys that this isn’t last year,” Kelley said. “We have a bunch of guys that have to go two ways and I have a couple guys that say, ‘I don’t want to go two ways.’ Well that’s tough — you’ve got to suck it up and play hard on both sides of the ball.

“We don’t have the depth and we’re too young, but right now, the guys have to get a little bit tougher.”

The test does not get any easier as the Hawks travel to Class AA No. 2 Fairmont Senior on Friday. The Polar Bears feature WVU recruit Zach Frazier, as well as potential all-state defensive lineman Dominick Owens and linebackers Magnus Sheets, Rhett Heston and Nate Kowalski.

Twitter @SeanManning_DP.

Email: smanning@dominionpost.com.

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