Certainly West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen will find more than a few things he didn’t like about the Mountaineers’ 42-12 win over James Madison at FedEx Field in Washington, D.C.Saturday.
But he certainly can’t fault anything done by his quarterback, Geno Smith.
Once again, the Mountaineers’ signalcaller was spot on, going 34 of 39 through the air for 411 yards with five touchdowns. And he made it look easy.
In addition, he became the Mountaineers’ all-time leader in passing yards, eclipsing the mark previously established by Marc Bulger, who incidentally, had a nice NFL career and was once the MVP of the Pro Bowl.
Here is what you really need to know about Smith and just how efficient he has been through two outings.
On the season he is 66 for 75 passing for 734 yards and nine touchdowns. Simple math says that the senior has completed as many touchdown passes as he has thrown incompletions this season.
Oh yeah, he still has not thrown an interception.
Then there was Stedman Bailey, who had - ready for this -13 catches for 173 yards and three touchdowns. It was Bailey’s ninth game with over 100 yards receiving, tying the record for most 100 yard games in a career. And he has at least 10 games left this season.
West Virginia’s offense is at a point now, two games into the season, where a three-and-out looks like a major defeat.
The defense showed a major improvement over the Marshall opener two weeks ago.
Indeed, the starting unit surrendered just three points, and that was partly because a shanked punt set the James Madison offense up on a short field.
Holgorsen surely is rethinking the fact that he went for it on fourth-and-3 on the Mountaineers’ first possession of the second half, which once again set up JMU’s offense on a short field.
The Mountaineers’ held on fourth-and-goal at the 1. However, Shawne Alston was then tackled in the end zone for a safety on WVU’s first play, another call that Holgorsen would probably like to have back. You would almost rather see Smith, who has been dialed in and on point, run a little play-action out of the end zone rather than a stretch play where Alston gets the ball three yards deep in the end zone. Or at least a dive or a QB sneak to get a little breathing room.
Yet that is nitpicking.
West Virginia is 2-0 and averaging 55.5 points per game through two starts it was expected to win.
The defense showed marked improvement over a James Madison team that everyone expected to put up a better fight (guess that billboard counting down the days until the game didn’t pay off, given the game had a distinct home field feel - WVU was the home team- as over 20,000 Mountaineer fans made the trek to the nation’s capital).
There will be nitpicking because that’s what coaches get paid to do. Identify the mistakes and fix the problem.
Still, through two games, West Virginia is about where most people predicted it would be.
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Andrew Buie is quietly becoming quite a weapon in the Mountaineers’ offense as well.
Buie followed up an impressive season opener against Marshall (80 rushing yards) with another nice outing, rushing for 31 and catching five passes for 90 yards. On the season Buie has 13 carries for 111 yards and nine receptions for 121 yards.
It was Buie who was on the receiving end of the pass that catapulted Smith over Bulger on the career passing chart, when he hauled in a screen pass and raced 30 yards.