Morgantown, West Virginia - With #2 ranked LSU invading Morgantown in just two weeks, the Mountaineers were looking to cruise past the Spartans of Norfolk State University on Saturday afternoon as a warm up game. However, trailing 12-10 going into halftime, isn’t what the Mountaineers had in mind. The Mountaineers looked very shaky in the first half as they were out gained by 99-yards of total offense (242 to 143). The Mountaineers had a chance to score early on, but had to settle for a field goal after being stuffed six times on the goaline.
“It’s flat out embarrassing, that’s it,” said coach Dana Holgorsen said about the failed attempts.
To close out the first half, after a touchdown from quarterback Geno Smith to Devon Brown, the Mountaineers received the ball with 1:30 seconds remaining. Instead of running out the clock, Holgorsen decided to go for it. The strategy came back to bite the Mountaineers as they were unable to capitalize and it led to another field goal for the Spartans to end the half. Needless to say, the crowd let Holgorsen know how they felt.
“We got the ball back with 1:30 seconds which is plenty of time to score, but we just didn’t execute,” Holgorsen explained.
“They probably had a reason to boo the way we played. I probably would boo too,” Holgorsen said jokingly to the media.
Thankfully for the Mountaineers, there are two halves in football and after a halftime pep talk from the coaching staff, the ‘eers came out on all cylinders in the second half.
“We are a young and inexperienced football team, but we can’t use that as an excuse. We didn’t look good in the first half and I don’t know if we were trying to hard or if it was a coaching error…. either way, I’m proud of the way we came out in the second half,” Holgorsen said postgame.
Leading the charge for the Mountaineers in the second half was Smith. Smith furthered his case as the top quarterback in the conference by going 20-34 for 371 yards and tying his career high in touchdowns with four. Smith found four different receivers for touchdowns as Brown, Tavon Austin, Tyler Urban and Ivan McCartney all found paydirt en route to a 55-12 trouncing. Receiver Brad Starks also scored on a pass from backup quarterback Paul Millard in late game relief.
“Geno played well, but he needs to get better. He plays up to tempo, balanced and shows enthusiasm. In fact, he’s the only voice that we have on the sideline with this inexperienced team and he is definitely a leader,” Holgorsen said about his quarterback.
With a test next week at Maryland, followed by the “Gold Rush” game against LSU, the Mountaineers may have overlooked their opponents a little bit this week.
“I think we definitely overlooked our opponent this week,” McCartney admitted.
“We didn’t come to play and they were the hungrier team. We played around in the first half and we had to come out and get it. It’s all about keeping the temp,” McCartney added.
Holgorsen knows this team has work left to do if they want to be ready for the tough opponents lined up in the coming weeks.
“We are far from a finished product. It’s called football and we will get better with each snap,” Holgorsen stated.
About the Author
Written by Michael Waterloo
I'm currently pursuing my Master's degree in Communication and Journalism from Clarion University. I currently work for Ohio Valley Athletics where I serve as the West Virginia Football Beat Writer and cover West Virginia Men's Basketball as well. I'm a big Pittsburgh Pirates, Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Penguins, Pitt Panthers and Oregon Ducks fan. Follow me on Twitter at @MichaelWaterloo or visit www.ovathletics.com