Players Continue to Pile Up Solid Numbers
MORGANTOWN – While it seems no one was in a mood to listen to superlatives after West Virginia’s loss to Louisville on Saturday, good things continued to get done. They were, as is usually the case in a loss few saw coming, just masked by the bad.
Blocked field goals that are returned for touchdowns have a way of sticking in the mind for days. But what about the play of Geno Smith? Will you remember his unforced turnover in which he had a ball slip out his hand for a second straight week unforced?
“That’s something I have to take personal pride in and make sure that never happens again,” he said.
Or will you remember his 31 of 44 effort for 410 yards and three touchdown passes.
It was his third 400-yard passing game of the season and the fifth-best individual single-game total in Mountaineers history. Smith threw at least one touchdown pass for a 12th straight game and is now third on the school’s all-time list with 48 career TD strikes.
He also passed Chad Johnston and Pat White for second place on the all-time passing yardage list, as he now has 6,197 yards.
You can imagine where he stands on all of this.
“I look at the mistakes that I made and they were costly mistakes,” he said. “I turned it over in the red zone. I made a couple bad decisions I wish I could have back, couple throws I wish I could have back.”
As for his numbers both Saturday and season-long?
“Personal accomplishments never meant anything to me and they never will,” Smith said. “It’s about winning and losing. Right now, we just lost. I’m not going to coin us as losers, but we definitely aren’t doing what it takes to win.”
There were other fine performances Saturday.
Brad Starks returned the opening kickoff 62 yards – a personal best – as he set up the Mountaineers with the ball at the Louisville 30. They scored 56 seconds later on a 25-yard touchdown reception by Tavon Austin. Austin finished with 90 receiving yards and 20 rushing yards on a pair of end-around plays.
Stedman Bailey, who led the Mountaineers with eight catches for 118 yards – his sixth 100-yard receiving game in the team’s last seven outings – had two TD receptions. That has given him nine for the season and 13 for his career. It was his third career multi-score game and he has six touchdown catches in his last four games.
Shawne Alston scored a pair of rushing touchdowns for a second straight week. He has five touchdowns in his last three games and seven in his career.
On defense, Bruce Irvin had two sacks and combined with Julian Miller for five tackles for a loss.
In two games against Louisville, Irvin recorded three quarterback sacks.