Elliott: Bailey, McCartney Continue to Shine

MORGANTOWN – The Miramar guys are feeling at home in Morgantown these days.

Quarterback Geno Smith and receivers Stedman Bailey and Ivan McCartney again delivered in a big way Saturday, as Smith threw for 450 yards and four touchdowns; Bailey caught seven passes for 178 yards and McCartney hauled in six passes for 131 yards.

It was the fourth straight 100-yard receiving game for Bailey. No other Mountaineers receiver had ever even done that in three consecutive games.

“That really has not been my goal,” Bailey said. “I just want to do whatever to help my team win.”

Still, the sophomore receiver, who is breaking out in a big way with 34 catches for 634 yards and five touchdowns this season, has that kind of ability.

“I did that just about every game in high school,” Bailey said. “It doesn’t surprise me. I know what I can do. I know what I’m capable of and all I needed was the opportunity and that’s been coming to me.”

Bailey credits head coach Dana Holgorsen’s fiery offensive system. Earlier in the week, he was talking about how he looked at the receiving totals at Oklahoma State and said he knew if Justin Blackmon could get 1,700 yards in it, he could at least get 1,000.

“The opportunity is open to everybody,” Bailey said. “It’s just a matter of coming out and making plays.”

Bailey’s day included an 84-yard touchdown catch, West Virginia’s longest passing score since Tito Gonzalez caught a 79-yarder from Pat White in the 2008 Fiesta Bowl and the fifth-longest touchdown from scrimmage in school history.

Smith’s touchdown passes were for 12, 84, 22, and 27 yards, meaning the Mountaineers don’t need to be in the red zone to score these days.

“Any play could go the distance no matter where we are on the field,” Bailey said. “Once you catch the ball, it’s just a matter of making the guy miss and going. I feel like the opportunity to score wherever we are on the field, it’s always open.”

McCartney flatly felt he had a bad day despite his numbers. That’s because he was targeted 12 times and had just seven catches. He lost one fumble and recovered another.

When Holgorsen was talking about his receivers, he had to stop himself.

“Ivan could have have had a big game, too,” he said. “(Wait) Ivan did have a big game. One-hundred thirty-one yards and he dropped a couple, too.”

It marked the third time this season West Virginia had two 100-yard receivers in the same game.

Smith, meanwhile, enjoyed the second-biggest passing day of his career by completing 27 of 45 passes against a Connecticut secondary that has yielded more than 900 passing yards in its last two games.

Smith, with a career total of 5,231 passing yards (2,159 though six games this season), surpassed Hall of Famer Major Harris for sixth place on the school’s all-time passing list. He’s thrown a touchdown pass in nine straight games and his 41 career TD passes tied him with Harris for sixth on that particular list.

“He’s the best in the league,” Bailey said. “He’s putting up great numbers.”