Mountaineers not satisfied after Coal Bowl blowout
Published: Tuesday, September 4, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, September 4, 2012 02:09
When the West Virginia offense took the field Saturday against Marshall in the Friends of Coal Bowl, many people expected a strong showing.
A 69-point outburst, however, took most people by surprise – including Marshall’s defense.
Not skipping a beat from the Mountaineers’ 70-33 drubbing of Clemson in the Orange Bowl, senior quarterback Geno Smith played as statistically strong as he ever has, tossing as many touchdown passes (four) as incompletions.
Despite his performance and the success the offense had as a whole, Smith still sounded reserved in his evaluation of the game’s outcome.
"I think Marshall, seeing those guys for three years, four years now, I’ve been able to pick up on a lot of things they do, but I also think that they kind of gave us a little bit – they were playing off a lot – so a lot of short passes, a lot of check downs; that’s the reason for the high completion percentage," he said.
"I’m pretty sure when teams challenge us a little more, it will be a little harder for us. But I think I did a good job of being patient and just staying within the game."
When asked about the mistakes the offense made, Smith immediately brought up the failed fourth-down conversion on the goal line in the first quarter. Though the play resulted in zero points, Smith found a silver lining in head coach Dana Holgorsen’s decision to not take the field goal.
"Coach (Holgorsen), he told me, ‘This was a bad call, we probably should have kicked it,’ but I like the fact that he trusted in us and he trusted in me (and) put the ball in my hands," he said. "I wish I could have got it in for him so we can go for it more on fourth downs, but it’s just a part of the game."
Offensive coordinator and receivers coach Shannon Dawson agreed with Smith’s sentiment that the Mountaineers played a great game, but not a perfect one.
"A win, obviously you want to get a win, but to get it in that way is good," he said. "Not that we didn’t make mistakes, because we did, but I thought we executed fairly well for the first game."
Dawson also said the coaching staff may have been a little too ambitious with the starting lineup at times – including on Smith’s failed fourth-down scramble on the goal line.
"I would say that there were a couple of drives in there with our ones that we probably got a little greedy," he said. "The one drive that we got down there on the goal line and didn’t score is obviously not good – you don’t want to go backward when you’re on the goal line."
Additionally, Dawson said he had hoped for a better performance from the backup units, something that the Mountaineers struggled to find.
"There were a few negatives in there. I think when the backups got in there, they didn’t really execute the way we wanted them to," he said. "There were some bumps in the road with those guys, which is expected, but you would hope those guys would go out there and execute a little better than that."
Smith, with the first victory of the new season under his belt, explained the mentality West Virginia has from using the success from the end of last season as a springboard for success this season.
"I think that’s the best thing about this team. We took that Orange Bowl game as kind of a stepping stone," he said. "We looked at that and said, ‘If we can score 70 on these guys, then why don’t we score 70 every game?’
"We know that’s not going to happen, but we’ve raised the bar for ourselves (and) you know, I think that’s something good."