West Virginia started off the game well enough on Saturday, scoring in only eight plays and 2:24. Things slowed after that, but didn’t stay down for long.
Jenkins rallied the troops at halftime.
“We started off the game pretty good, doing our tempo plays, but we fell off for a bit,” said running back Dreamius Smith. “We knew that was going to help us score touchdowns and move the ball, so we came out the second half and picked it up, and got in the end zone.”
It didn’t just happen, though. Smith says the team got some inspiration during the break – and it didn’t come from the coaching staff.
“We had a good halftime speech from one of our players,” he said. “I knew from then on out that we were going to pick it up in the second half. I knew as soon as we got the ball at halftime, we were going to have to execute and run the ball down their throat, and that’s just what we did.”
After a little prodding from the media, Smith finally revealed who stood up and helped turn things around for the Mountaineers – senior defensive back Brodrick Jenkins.
“He just said we had to come out and play hard,” said Smith. “We knew we were going to be tested. Adversity hit us and we wanted to not let it get us down, just overcome it and keep playing, and that’s what we did.”
The aforementioned tempo was another hot topic for Smith, a junior college transfer in his first year in Morgantown.
“We practice (tempo) hard ever since camp,” he said. “We’ve seen today that it actually pays off. We actually execute off it and we’re going to keep doing it until it wears the defense down.”
Wearing down the defense while not wearing down one’s self is a big part of the tempo’s success. In order to accomplish that, West Virginia relied on a four-person backfield – each of which produced on Saturday.
“Every last one of us is helping,” said Smith. “One comes out and one comes in and can do the same thing. (JaJuan Seider) just turns around and calls on one of our numbers and we just go in and make plays. If you got the hot hand, you’re going to stay in. Every last one of our running backs can come in and make plays.”
EerSports' Alissa Hudak contributed to this article.