Column - Offense proved a lot against LSU
Published: Monday, September 26, 2011
Updated: Monday, September 26, 2011 22:09
There were a lot of bad things that could be taken from No. 22 West Virginia's 47-21 loss to No. 1 LSU Saturday - four turnovers, missed tackles and twice as many penalties as LSU.
But there was a lot of good that came from the game, especially concerning the offense.
The 533 yards of offense might have been overshadowed by the loss, but it cannot be ignored.
The way the Mountaineers moved the ball downfield in the passing attack against supposedly one of the best defenses in all of college football was beyond impressive. It showed how much talent this WVU offense really has, and it can match up with the best of the best.
There's no question the LSU defense has at least three players that will go on to play Sundays (i.e. Tyrann Matthieu, Morris Claiborne, Kendrick Adams).
Matthieu, the cornerback who had the unbelievable interception that he tipped to himself on the swing pass at the end of the first half, even looked silly on some of the long passing plays the WVU offense pulled off.
Junior quarterback Geno Smith completed 38 of his 65 passes for 463 yards to go along with two touchdown passes. The completions, attempts and yards passing are the highest LSU has given up all season. Smith's pass to junior receiver Tavon Austin for 72 yards in the third quarter was also the longest passing play given up by the Tiger defense this year.
Austin finished the game with 11 catches and 187 receiving yards. Sophomore wide receiver Stedman Bailey had 97 yards receiving and a touchdown.
All of these high numbers are indications that Dana Holgorsen's offense is just reaching its peak – imagine what it could do next week against a team like Bowling Green or once the Big East schedule begins.
The hard work and practice over the last few weeks must have rubbed off on the offensive line, too. Even after starting right tackle Pat Eger left the game due to injury, there was no drop-off when freshman tackle Quinton Spain came in. Smith wasn't sacked one time against the studs on the LSU defensive front.
At the beginning of the season, the offensive line was thought to be one of the weaker points of the WVU
offense. But it has been a great surprise as it showed success against the now No. 1 team in the nation.
Obviously the players were disappointed after the game, as they let a few big mistakes get the best of them and allowed the game to slip out of their hands just as they were gaining momentum.
This performance should be a point of liftoff for the offense. They know they can make huge plays against the best in the country. If the rest of the teams on the Mountaineers' schedule were to put up 533 yards, it isn't likely they would score only 21 points in the game, even if they had an interception or two.
The offense has proven, without question, that it is by far the most talented in the Big East.
The season is by no means over. The WVU offense hasn't reached its climax and the team can still reach a BCS bowl game this year.
This is the most exciting offense Mountaineer fans have seen since the Rich Rodriguez era. Holgorsen's system is working after just four games in his first season as head coach.
Keep your heads up Mountaineer nation.
Don't be surprised if the offense eclipses the numbers it had against the top team in the country.