The free fall of the West Virginia University Football Team continued in Stillwater, Oklahoma last Saturday as the Mountaineers fell to the Cowboys 55-34. West Virginia had battled back from an early deficit to cut the OSU lead to 38-34 in the third quarter and looked to be in position to make a run at the Cowboys. That emotion was short lived as a series of special teams’ mistakes that had plagued the Mountaineers the whole game continued.
If you watched the game, you have first hand knowledge of how silly the special teams units looked at times. There was a 94-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.
There was a kickoff to the Mountaineers that bounced off of one Mountaineer’s helmet and hit two other WVU players before being recovered by the Cowboys. Later, Tavon Austin didn’t field an OSU punt, but the ball took a crazy hop and bounced off of Austin resulting in another turnover. On that play Austin doesn’t get a pass, because he should have cleared the area, but that bounce was about as vicious a bad hop anyone could imagine.
Quarterback Geno Smith continues his slide as well. He did have Stedman Bailey back in form, but Smith struggled again to hit open receivers the way he did so effortlessly in the season’s first five games.
Anyway, there is no sign of recovery that this observer can detect. About all that can be done is hope the slide disappears as quickly as it began. We also know that two receivers have left the team in the last week. Freshman Travares Copeland and junior Ivan McCartney have left the team. As usual, no reasons are given other than “personal reasons.” McCartney has been rumored to have been in the doghouse of the last two coaching staffs.
Copeland did not seem to fit in that category. He was one of the most highly coveted recruits in the last recruiting class and had just had his redshirt lifted and was seeing action. This all smells of internal strife and suggestions have been made that more departures may be forthcoming.
The good news is that in a few hours (midnight Monday) the WVU men’s basketball team will begin their season and help take some attention away from the football misfortunes. Bob Huggins’ team will be facing a stiff challenge from a Gonzaga team that is a legitimate Top 25 team this year and the same team that bounced the Mountaineers from the first round of the NCAA Tournament last March.
While a victory in Spokane later tonight would be a huge boost for the Mountaineers, just playing the game will be a good barometer of just where Huggins’ team stands early in the season. The coach is optimistic about the upcoming season, but time will be needed to blend the newcomers with the holdovers from last year. Also of interest is the possibility that WVU could meet Gonzaga again in the third round of the Old Spice Classic in Orlando in 12 days.