The West Virginia Mountaineers didn't have their best performance of the season on Saturday, but they still beat Maryland, 31-12, and improved to a 3-0 record. West Virginia found themselves struggling on offense more often than naught, but Geno Smith hooking up with Tavon Austin is essentially a guarantee at this point, as the two connected 13 times for 179 yards and three touchdowns.
Some of the biggest issues with Saturday's game came on defense. The folks over at SB Nation's The Smoking Musket took a look at some of the good things and the bad things. Below, we've got the bad things:
Knee jerk observations (Bad):
- Open field tackling was a BIG issue
- Defense must get off the field on 3rd down better
- Too many 3-and-outs for the offense
- More punts today against Maryland than against LSU last season
- Inconsistent punting and kickoffs
- Lack of a true running game without Alston
Third down is clearly a point of focus for this team going forward, especially on defense, but the offense will need to improve as well. While Austin has been great, he'll be shut down against some of the tougher Big 12 opponents, and the Mountaineers won't be able to rely on him to make big play after big play to get them out of those third-down situations.
Still, they did go on to list some of the positives from the game, as well. The offense had no turnovers, Austin had a big game, and the defense was able to make those big plays, despite some breakdowns that made the game seem closer than it actually was. They managed to get a few sacks and forced three turnovers, one of which resulted in a 51-yard fumble return for a touchdown. It's good to see the negatives offset by the positives, but the biggest thing to take from all of this is that the Mountaineers picked up another win heading into their conference slate.
For more Mountaineers football, check out The Smoking Musket.