MORGANTOWN - The general thought by those outside the West Virginia's locker room following the Mountaineers' 31-0 victory against Coastal Carolina on Saturday?
It was a I-AA school, no reason to rip down a goal post, no real reason to light up a couch.
West Virginia’s Noel Devine works the ball upfield during Saturday’s 31-0 victory against Coastal Carolina at Mountaineer Field. Devine finished with 111 yards and a touchdown.
Photo by Scott McCloskey
Inside that locker room, though, it was perfect.
''I feel like we did a lot of good things,'' sophomore quarterback Geno Smith said.
Well, they won, which is definitely a good thing. The defense posted its first shutout since 2005 - its first at home since 1997. The offense more than doubled the yardage output of the opposition. Three guys - Smith, receiver Steadman Bailey, and defensive back Terence Garvin - made their first career starts against Coastal Carolina, a South Carolina-based school that brought you NFL quarterback Tyler Thigpen.
In all, the Mountaineers used more than 40 players, including a long list of guys who were seeing their first major college football action of any kind.
''It gives us a lot of hope that we have a lot of depth and we don't have to worry about going out there for 60-70 plays a game,'' senior defensive lineman Chris Neild said. ''Just knowing that we have that kind of depth definitely helps us out.''
Casey Vance, Darwin Cook, Doug Rigg, Ischmael Banks Brant Bowser, Mike Dorsey, Bruce Irvin, Ivan McCartney, Chris Snook, Steubenville's Branko Busick, Brodrick Jenkins, Trey Johnson, Travis Bell, Greg Pugnetti, Tyler Anderson, Corey Smith, Pat Eger, C.J. Huffman, and Will Clarke were all first-time participants against the Chanticleers, who by the way, are named after the proud, witty rooster made famous in ''The Canterbury Tales.''
''We played a lot of guys,'' said coach Bill Stewart, who added he wished he would have played one more.
That person was true freshman quarterback Jeremy Johnson, a young man time ran out on Saturday.
''I want to see both young men play,'' Stewart said. ''But we couldn't. We need not turn the ball over so much.''
Sure, there were mistakes.
Sophomore slot receiver Tavon Auston gained 13 yards on a second-quarter pass play, but was hit by Coastal Carolina's Josh Norman at the 2 and fumbled the ball through the end zone for a touchback with 2:30 remaining.
A minute later, Smith, who completed 20 of 27 passes for 216 yards and two touchdowns, was intercepted by the Chanticleers' Dominique Davenport.
Noel Devine, who has carried the ball 543 times in his Mountaineers career, lost a fumble on his own 33 with 7:41 remaining in the third quarter.
The good far outweighed it, though, as West Virginia's offense produced eight plays of double-digit yardage, the Mountaineers committed three penalties for 25 yards, receiver J.D. Woods' first career catch went for a touchdown, and Devine got his yardage (111 yards on 23 carries).
There was more.
The offense showed some wrinkles, with slot man Jock Sanders taking a reverse for 31 yards down to the Coastal Carolina 6, setting up a Tyler Bitancurt field goal.
It was a rare trick play, something you might draw up on a napkin at Choo-Choos in New Martinsville, but it worked to perfection.
The defense showed a new look with four down lineman - a guy like Irvin would make any team at least think of doing something like that - and revealed the kind of speed that might make SEC-based LSU blink in three weeks.
''Did you see how fast?'' Stewart asked. ''Those guys can fly, now.''
He added that it looked like his guys played with a reckless abandon.
''I asked the players to do that, and they bought into it,'' Stewart said. ''I liked the way they flew around.''
So there was some good, some bad. Some new, some old.
''It was a good opening win,'' Stewart said. ''We have a long way to go and a lot of better football to play.''
Jim Elliott can be reached via e-mail at: Elliott@theintelligencer.net.