Mountaineers Started Strong
MORGANTOWN – You always hear a lot about how offensive coaches script the first 15 plays in a given game, but rarely go back and look at the success or failure of that call sheet.
Well, it’s time.
After 12 offensive plays Saturday against Maryland, West Virginia had run for 69 yards and passed for 58. The score was 14-0.
“We always envision them working that well,” offensive coordinator Jeff Mullen said. “That sounds boastful, but that’s what you do the whole week. The calling of the game is the easy part. It’s the work Sunday, Monday, Tuesday making sure you’ve got the right calls.”
It was quite a rebound, considering on the first play, Noel Devine fumbled and lost two yards. He lost three on the second one.
After that, the track meet began.
Quarterback Geno Smith hit Tavon Austin for 15 yards. Then Devine ran for 50, followed by Smith keeping for 10. Smith then found Austin for 6 yards six points.
“We had a real good thought of what they were going to do,” Mullen said. “To our delight, they did what we thought.”
Maryland, on those 12 plays, was almost defenseless.
“We anticipated their tempo early in game, and we didn’t do a very good job adapting to it,” Terps coach Ralph Friedgen said. “They really didn’t do anything we didn’t anticipate; they just did it very well.”
Ya, it’s fairly easy to tell where the ball’s going in the WVU offense.
“We really try to emphasize Jock (Sanders) and Noel and Tavon, weekly,” Mullen said. “That’s OK if that’s public.”
Smith completed 19 of 29 passes for 268 yards and four touchdowns – one more than he had in the first two starts combined.
Two each went to Stedman Bailey, who had four catches for 60 yards, and Austin, who had a career best seven catches for 106 yards. It marked the first time since the 2008 opener Bill Stewart’s first game as head coach of Mountaineers – that two receivers had multiple touchdown catches in the same game.
“It’s extremely fun just to have the great weapons that we have,” Smith said. “Not only do we have a great running back in Noel, but we have great playmakers on the outside and Jock and Tavon on the inside. And then we have a great O-line. It’s just pretty much the perfect situation.”
While that could be debated, it’s certainly better than Maryland’s. The Terps had minus-10 rushing yards and 227 passing yards, averaging 4.25 yards per snap.
“When everybody runs to the ball, good things happen,” WVU defensive end Bruce Irvin said.
Nine West Virginia players are from the state of Maryland, including Austin and Eric Jobe, who was selected by Stewart as one of the team’s captains for the game, along with Anthony Leonard, Gregg Pugnetti, and Larry Ford.
“I talked to the Maryland guys (Friday night),” Stewart said. “I said, ‘all you Maryland cats put your hands up.’ They did. I told them, ‘You don’t have to be Supermen. Just play your game. Our game, stay within the framework of the offense and defense, and let it happen. You don’t have to be Supermen.’
“Well, I’m glad Tavon had the cape on for at least a little bit because he sure made some nice plays.”