Monday, October 10, 2011

WVU-Connecticut Final Thoughts

Another slow start for West Virginia turned into a blowout. A key defensive play ignited a 23-point 3rd quarter, and the Mountaineers rolled through the Huskies. It was a complete effort for WVU, as the Special Teams unit put in their best performance this year.

Most Valuable: Stedman Bailey. This could have gone to a few different people, but we give Bailey the edge for having yet another huge game. The redshirt sophomore finished with 178 yards with two touchdowns, including an 84-yard strike. Bailey made an unreal juke move to bust open that play, and then turned on the afterburners to get to the house. He now has four consecutive games with over 100 yards receiving, and continues to get stronger.

Least Valuable: Corey Smith? I know this is kind of harsh, considering the dude lost his punting job last week. However, Smith still had a chance to keep his kickoff job, and he pulled one right out of bounds. He also averaged less than Tyler Bitancurt. Smith didn't kill the team, but it's just easy to single him out the most.

Most Surprising: Special Teams. This unit brought it. Tyler Bitancurt's field goals and kickoffs were solid, Mike Molinari's punting was incredible(including three inside the twenty), and the coverage finally brought some confidence. UConn's longest return on a kickoff was just 26 yards, and longest punt return just 19. The only issue was Tavon Austin nearly dropping every punt, but he still averaged over 10 yards a return. It was certainly a step in the right direction for the group.

Least Surprising: The Passing Game. Sure, it was a slow start, but you had to expect Geno Smith would eventually get it going. The Huskies are too beat up in the secondary, and it showed in the second half. Smith finished with 450 yards passing and four touchdowns. It could have been an even bigger day, if it weren't for a few drops. Dana Holgorsen admitted after the game that he gave up on the run too soon, but it must be hard to go back to it when you have a quarterback slinging it all over the yard.

Play of the Game: The Fumble Return. Halfway through the 3rd quarter UConn was driving deep into WVU territory, when Pat Miller stripped Johnny McEntee of the ball. Juwone Snow recovered it to go 84 yards. That set up a Tavon Austin TD catch, and it was smooth sailing after that. Just a huge play by Miller and Snow.

Quarterback: It was a slow start, but Geno ended up with huge numbers. He didn't have a great game, but finished with four touchdowns and 450 yards. Imagine if he played up to his full potential. Could have had eight touchdowns. Needs to improve completion percentage. Yes, I'm being picky.
Grade: B+

Running back: The Huskies did a nice job in slowing down Dustin Garrison and company, and Holgorsen did admit he gave up too early on the run. However, WVU did get close to 100 yards, including a fantastic touchdown run by Garrison.
Grade: B

Wideout: Three receivers over 100 yards again. There were some nice catches, but there were also some big drops. Plus, route-running and tempo left something to be desired. We have seen this group play better.
Grade: B

Offensive line: Not their best day, but managed to have a good second half. Geno still had a lot of time to throw the ball, but the run game was smothered for a while by UConn.
Grade: B-

Defensive line: The pressure was back. Johnny McEntee was getting drilled the entire game, and the big boys up front did a great job in blowing up the rush game. UConn finished with just 82 yards on the ground.
Grade: A-

Linebacker: Jewone Snow nearly took a fumble to the house, and Najee Goode seemed to be in every play. The unit looked better this week, especially in the second half.
Grade: B

Secondary: A pretty good performance for this unit, especially in pressure and against the run. Some coverage packages still look shaky, but seem fixable.
Grade: B

Special Teams: Good kicking, good coverage, pretty good returning. This is a recipe for success. Best game so far for this unit.
Grade: A-

Coaching: Kudos to all this week. Great schemes, great halftime adjustments, and a great call to make a change at punter. There's also no telling how important whatever was said at halftime was, because it was a different team in the second half.
Grade: A

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