If you are a fan of West Virginia University football then you have to be ecstatic with the performance of the Mountaineers’ offense against Baylor last Saturday. If you are a fan of offensive football in general, you were probably mesmerized watching the Mountaineers outlast the Bears 70-63 in WVU’s inaugural Big 12 contest. If you are a fan of defensive football, well I’ll address that shortly.
Most have to be aware of how much positive attention West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith is getting, I mean you couldn’t turn on the TV Saturday night or Sunday morning without seeing Smith throwing touchdown passes to Steadman Bailey or Tavon Austin. Smith’s Heisman Trophy stock is soaring after he completed 45 of 51 passes for 656 yards and eight touchdowns Saturday. If those stats haven’t sunk in yet, let them now.
Of course with a stat line like that there have to be some receivers with some gaudy numbers as well. At the top of that list is Bailey who caught 13 passes for 303 yards and five touchdowns. Austin was next with 14 grabs, 215 yards and two touchdowns. Then there is a somewhat under appreciated J.D. Woods who snatched 13 passes for 114 yards and a score. Woods had arguably the catch of the game with a one handed snare he caught in stride late in the game for an important first down.
One more prop for Woods who is clearly the third option in the offense, but he has stood out catching the ball in traffic on the shorter routes. Many of Woods’ catches are short high velocity darts from Smith and Woods makes catching them look easy.
Common sense indicates the remaining teams on the Big 12 schedule will have defenses that will prevent WVU from posting any more 70-point games. That starts this Saturday night in Austin, Texas where 100,000 will be on hand to make things difficult for Smith and the Mountaineers. Already seen on Twitter from Texas fans, #MAKEGENODEAF. The game is the 7 p.m. Fox Saturday night game.
At one point on Saturday afternoon the United States had forged ahead of Europe 10-4 in Ryder Cup action and looked to be in good shape to either win or halve the other two matches. The Euros won those two matches to finish Saturday’s matches down 10-6 to the USA. Still, a four-point deficit heading into Sunday’s 12 singles matches is considered the longest of shots to overcome. It meant the Euros had to win 8 of 12 matches to retain the cup.
Europe got out to a strong start on Sunday, but there were enough matches going in the USA’s favor to make one think that an epic Euro rally needed for a comeback would still fall short. That is until the Americans began to crumble, one after another, over the last four holes of Medinah Country Club near Chicago. Euros were making long putts pressuring the Americans to make shorter putts to halve holes, but the Americans failed more often than not.
In the end Europe completed the comeback before the final match was completed and finished the day with an 8 1/2 - 3 1/2 beat down of the Americans to retain the cup.
Finally, there is the West Virginia defense. While the offense was piling up 70 points the defense looked lost in giving up 63 points. There is really no silver lining, or lipstick to put on this pig. The closest you could probably do to take solace in that effort is to presume the Mountaineers will not see another offense as prolific as Baylor’s the rest of the season. Even so, what we’ve seen in the last two weeks is plenty reason for concern. Maryland had good success controlling the ball with a true freshman quarterback and several other freshmen on the offensive side of the ball. Baylor came into a hostile arena, albeit with a very talented QB and wide receivers, and torched the defense for nine touchdowns and 700 yards of offense.
Yours truly has said that this defense will improve as some of the young guys get acclimated to the speed of the game. I still believe that to be true, but find it unlikely the group will get to a point where they can win a game if the offense falters. Using the upcoming game against Texas as an example, you have to think the Longhorns will want to run the ball, use clock and keep WVU’s offense off the field. They are built to do just that with great athletes across the board. Texas has backs that will be a problem and a quarterback that can throw it effectively when needed.
This is a tough matchup for the Mountaineers in a tough venue. Word is the Texas crowd will be as amped up for this game as they have ever been. That is tall praise for West Virginia, because there have been a lot of big games in Austin. There is no flying under the radar this year!
Can the Mountaineers be efficient enough on offense to outscore the Longhorns with what figures to be fewer possessions than we’ve come to expect? If they can, this thing could really get rolling.
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