West Virginia ‘O’ Puts on a Clinic

MORGANTOWN – There was some thought that Marshall’s deficiencies on defense were perhaps an equal factor in West Virginia posting its finest day of offense since Mountaineer Field’s doors opened, but that’s an issue for another day.

Quarterback Geno Smith and his mates put on a clinic in Saturday’s 69-34 beatdown of Marshall, gaining 331 yards on the ground and 324 through the air on their way to a total of 655, breaking the previous stadium mark of 643 set last season against Bowling Green.

“I guess that’s about as balanced as you could possibly be,” WVU head coach Dana Holgorsen said.

The numbers are astounding. Smith completed 32 of 36 passes (89 percent) for 324 yards and four touchdowns. He completed passes to seven different receivers, with four of them catching at least one touchdown pass and four gaining more than 50 yards.

Smith would later say there were actually a couple of plays he wished he could have had back.

His coach was OK with it.

“He didn’t turn the ball over at all. He got us into a bunch of good plays,” Holgorsen said. “Pretty much every play that we call can go one direction or the other. And he’s just so seasoned and so experienced that he can get us in the best play. He managed the game as well as anybody I’ve ever been around.”

That’s what the WVU coaches used to say about Pat White.

In the running game, Shawne Alston gained 123 yards and scored a pair of touchdowns on 16 carries, as he was one of four Mountaineers to rush for more than 60 yards.

Andrew Buie provided a burst with 89 yards and a touchdown, averaging 13.3 yards per carry in doing so. Tavon Austin had 66 yards on three carries and Smith – yes Smith – added 65 yards on eight carries, including a 28-yard scoring jaunt.

When it was all said and done, West Virginia had 12 different players touch the ball and eight of them either threw, caught, or ran in a touchdown, including backup quarterback Paul Millard’s 3-yard touchdown pass to K.J. Myers. Not unlike receiver J.D. Woods a few years ago, Myers’ first career catch was a touchdown.

“I told him welcome to the club,” said Woods, who equaled his entire output from last season with seven catches for 75 yards and a touchdown.

Holgorsen didn’t realize Buie had averaged better than a first down per carry until after he’d seen the final stats, and said he probably should have given it to him more.

“But there’s only one ball, though,” he reminded.

Yes, this WVU offense showed up as advertised. And what a show it put on.

“That’s a good sign for us,” Smith said. “We ran the ball very well. As long as those guys continue to do that – Andrew Buie and Shawne Alston, and the line continues to do a phenomenal job, which they did (Saturday) – I think we’ll be a pretty good offense.”

Umm, yeah.

The 69 points were the most ever scored by West Virginia in a season opener and the final score was just one point off the Orange Bowl score each way, one that most figured they wouldn’t see for years.