Well, I’m home from the Stadium, and I have to say I’m pleased with the Mountaineers’ showing this afternoon against Coastal Carolina. 31-0 may not seem like an overpowering performance, but it’s good enough for me.
Geno Smith’s 20-27 day was about as good as we could have hoped for. Two touchdowns and one interception are nothing to be upset about. That said, his interception in the first half’s waning minutes was a killer and took away a key opportunity to score points before going into the locker room. Without that pick or Tavon Austin’s fumble, the Mountaineers would be looking at a point total in forties. So all told, for his first start, not too shabby.
The other offensive skill players of Devine, Sanders and Austin more than made up for the Mountaineers’ inexperience at quarterback. Devine got over the hundred-yard mark, with 53 of them coming on a fourth down run early in the fourth quarter to set up his lone touchdown. All in all, he looked like the dynamic playmaker we expect him to be. His 23 carries are also evidence of Coach Stewart’s willingness to lean on his senior star. Jock Sanders and Tavon Austin turned in eight- and five-catch games respectively, being used mostly in the short passing game. Sanders also had one carry out of the backfield, but he took it for 31 yards. Austin showed real athletic ability, but his fumble through the end zone resulting in a Coastal Carolina touchback was the game’s most brutal moment. For the rest of the afternoon the offense played fairly mistake-free.
The defense played exactly as expected. They never let their FCS competition get on the scoreboard and for the bulk of the day, they kept them far from scoring position. Chanticleers kicker Justin Dalton helped the defense’s cause by missing two fairly easy field goals. Brandon Hogan’s interception bailed out the offense one play after Smith’s turnover, and was the defensive highlight of the day.
This one’s in the books. 1-0 is all that can be hoped for right now, and the team got it done. A short week awaits and then a trip to Huntington to take on the sort-of-rival Marshall Thundering Herd on Friday night. I can’t wait! Thank goodness football is back!