Bailey happy with production of receivers, ready for upcoming matchup with LSU
Published: Monday, September 19, 2011
Updated: Monday, September 19, 2011 23:09
Midway through the fourth quarter against Maryland Saturday Sept. 17, the West Virginia offense faced its most important third down of the season.
With a streaking Maryland offense on the sidelines eagerly awaiting an opportunity to complete its improbable 24-point comeback, junior quarterback Geno Smith looked to a familiar target to make the play that would put victory in the hands of the Mountaineers.
Sophomore wide receiver Stedman Bailey was lined up to Smith's left, facing one-man coverage. Upon receiving the snap, Smith fired a quick pass to Bailey, who caught the ball even with the line of scrimmage.
The Maryland defender covering Bailey sprung forward, wrapping him around the
ankles and appearing to make the tackle. Bailey turned on the burners and went streaking 21 yards downfield to convert the vital first down.
"I pretty much put it in my head that I will not let one guy bring me down, so it's just a matter of just trying to stay on my feet and keep going," Bailey said.
The catch was one of two Bailey would make on the drive, propelling the Mountaineer
offense into field goal range and adding cushioning to the shaky lead they had at the time.
"Late in the game (Maryland) had a lot of momentum, and I felt like I just needed to make a play," he said. "I was able to keep my feet in (and) keep going for the first down."
Bailey finished the day with eight receptions for 113 yards and a touchdown. Bailey,
junior Tavon Austin and sophomore Ivan McCartney had a combined 336 yards receiving – the first time since 1998 that two WVU receivers eclipsed the century mark in the same game.
With three receivers producing at such a steady rate, the Maryland secondary was never able to focus on any particular receiver, which lead to gaping holes that Smith effectively exploited.
"Defenses will never really be able to key on one person just because everybody is stepping up and making plays," Bailey said.
On the opening drive of the second half, Smith connected with Bailey on a deep-seam route over the middle that went for 34 yards and a score – making the score 34-10 and apparently out of Maryland's reach.
"We got the coverage that we wanted," Bailey said. "Geno made a good throw and I was there for the catch."
From that point on, the Terrapins mounted a furious
comeback that Bailey credits to a tremendous shift in momentum.
With a crowd of 53,267 at their backs, the Mountaineers knew that somebody would have to step up to quiet the raucous crowd and reclaim the momentum Maryland possessed.
"I just pretty much let those guys know that somebody had to make a play," Bailey said.
"Maryland had a lot of
momentum and things were looking kind of shaky for us, but pretty much everybody stepped up and said, ‘We have to pick it up man,' and we put a good drive together."
With junior Tyler Bitancurt's successful field goal attempt, Bailey and the offense ran enough time off the clock to put additional pressure on Maryland that eventually forced the interception to seal the victory.
After the game, Bailey refused to be sentimental about the victory and instead
discussed his primary objective for the coming week.
"This is over with," Bailey said of the win. "(The) next opponent is LSU, and that's what we'll focus on all week and prepare for those guys."