Mountaineers not looking past inferior opponents
Published: Monday, September 17, 2012
Updated: Monday, September 17, 2012 06:09
This season, in terms of scheduling, started just like the 2011 campaign for the No. 7 West Virginia football team.
In both cases, the Mountaineers’ season opener was against in-state rival Marshall, followed by a matchup against an FCS opponent.
Last season, however, WVU found itself trailing in the second quarter to the Herd and trailing Norfolk State at the half.
After two games in 2012, the Mountaineers have yet to trail and have defeated their opponents by a combined score of 111-46, and most of the opponents’ 46 points came in the fourth quarter, when the West Virginia starters were on the bench.
Is this year’s version of the Mountaineers more focused than a year ago against inferior opponents?
"I feel the focus is the same as last year," said senior running back Shawne Alston. "We just do a better job of responding to our coaches and going out there on the field and playing with a high level of intensity. Last year, the coaches emphasized it, but we just weren’t able to get things."
Senior wide receiver Tavon Austin seems to think the momentum coming into the season has something to with his team not overlooking smaller opponents.
"Our team is clicking right now. Off the Orange Bowl, we came in and we were ready to roll. We’re different than last year," Austin said. "With our mindset, we know what we want. We know we need to push each other. We’re just a family now."
West Virginia will likely be heavily favored once again next week when Maryland travels to Milan Puskar Stadium.
Quarterbacks coach Jake Spavital feels the overall experience his team gained a year ago helped improve focus early in 2012.
"Year one, we had a lot of unknowns. We didn’t know much about our offensive linemen or our receivers," Spavital said. "Right now, we know what we’ve got, and we know how they can handle adversity. Our adjustments are a lot quicker than they were last year."
Senior quarterback and team leader Geno Smith’s focus has appeared unbreakable through two games. Smith has yet to throw an interception and only has nine incompletions in 75 pass attempts.
One would assume the team’s general focus starts with its leader.
It’s important for its senior leader and potential Heisman Trophy candidate not to look past inferior foes. And so far, Smith seems to be locked in.
"If we hit adversity, we can’t even tell with him," Spavital said. "(No matter the opponent) he’s going to be the same guy. He just goes out there and he executes … nothing fazes him."