West Virginia University’s reeling football team was presented with a great chance to get back on the winning track last Saturday, but failed to get the job done. After defeating Texas 48-45 on October 6, the Mountaineers lost back-to-back games to Texas Tech and Kansas State by a combined score of 104-28. The prolific offense that had carried the Mountaineers for five games was suddenly out of sync. The defense had been torched all season and there was no sign of relief there.
Following the 55-14 destruction by KSU on October 20, there seemed nothing better to help WVU than a much-needed week off. You know, the usual stuff like correcting fundamentals and getting guys healthy. Further, the next opponent, TCU, looked to be just what the doctor ordered for WVU. No, TCU wouldn’t be considered a gimmie victory, but with 16 freshmen in the lineup, playing in Morgantown and coming off back to back losses, this was clearly a game the Mountaineers should be able to win.
And they should have won the game, instead they handed TCU a 39-38 victory. The defense played a much better game than they have in quite a number of weeks, but with just over 1:30 left in the game, leading 31-24, the Mountaineers gave up a 94 yard touchdown pass. It was a busted coverage, and we’ve seen these things all season, it’s just that this time it was the longest TD pass in stadium history by an opponent and it ultimately led to overtime where the Horned Frogs won on a two point conversion.
It is legitimate to ask how TCU’s Josh Boyce could get so wide open in that circumstance. As horrific as that play was, there was a botched snap on a punt that TCU picked up for a touchdown. There was a blocked field goal. There was what has been widely perceived as a lack of aggression in the offensive play calling as we saw WVU settle for several very long Tyler Bitancurt field goal attempts. He did make a 52 yarder, but the curious part were the third down play calls that led to the attempts.
Of course, it also seems that someone other than Geno Smith has been wearing number 12 the last three games. Yes, the defenses he’s facing are better and his favorite receiver, Stedman Bailey, is banged up, but there is something more than that. You won’t find an answer here though, it’s just too baffling to even guess. Smith played the first five games at a level higher than many people could have envisioned. He was at the top of almost everyone’s Heisman Trophy list. His QB rating was over 200. In the last three games his QB rating is barely over 100, a figure that wouldn’t even put him in the top 100 if that number were for the entire season.
Smith threw one interception Saturday, but many of his throws were there for the taking including his touchdown pass to J.D. Woods who stole what looked like an end zone pick into a touchdown. The offense did not score a touchdown in the second half and the fans are just shaking their heads. With the current product that is going out on the field it looks likely that the Mountaineers could be playing for bowl eligibility in the season finale against Kansas on December 1.
Start times are complete for the next three games. The WVU-Oklahoma State game is set for 3:30 p.m. this Saturday on ABC. Oklahoma at WVU on October 17 is a 7 p.m. start on Fox and WVU will travel to Iowa State for a 3:30 p.m. game on Black Friday. If the WVU offense can be located, these next three games should be competitive. They will be difficult to win with the latest version of the offense.