West Virginia football notebook: Players pass adversity test
College Football Videos
LANDOVER, Md. — The West Virginia football team apparently learned an important lesson after last season.
The Mountaineers pulled out close wins against Cincinnati, Pitt and South Florida to conclude the 2011 regular season. After winning those contests by a total of seven points, WVU routed Clemson, 70-33, in the Orange Bowl.
Concerned that his players had forgotten how to respond to adversity following a 69-34 win over Marshall in this season's opener two weeks ago, coach Dana Holgorsen was anxious to see how they would respond to a dry spell during Saturday's game against James Madison.
Leading 28-0 in the second quarter, the Mountaineers hit some rough patches before finishing strong for a 42-12 victory.
“One thing we haven't faced going back to last year is adversity,” said Holgorsen, who is 12-3 with the Mountaineers. “We had three close games to finish the season last year and overcame adversity.
“Going out after halftime, we wanted to come back and win the second half. We ended up doing that, but we faced some adversity in the third quarter.”
WVU built on a 28-3 halftime lead but not until after James Madison made it 28-5 on a safety and the No. 8-ranked Mountaineers failed to register points on their opening two drives. They had opened the game scoring on their first four drives.
Senior quarterback Geno Smith, who threw for a season-high 411 yards and five touchdowns, tossed scoring passes on the next two drives to erase any James Madison momentum and extend the lead to 42-5 to open the fourth quarter.
Defensively, the Mountaineers stopped James Madison on two drives inside the 10-yard line in the third quarter.
On one occasion, the Mountaineers tackled running back Jordan Anderson for no gain on fourth-and-goal from the 1. On the other drive, linebacker Tyler Anderson intercepted quarterback Justin Thorpe in the end zone.
Smith faced a blitz for the first time this season against James Madison.
“It was the first time we faced a lot of blitz in a long time,” Holgorsen said. “We're going to be able to learn from that. He needs to do a better job of getting the ball out of his hands when they're doing a lot of blitzing. He's not going to be able to sit there and scramble for five seconds.”
Said Smith, “One time I checked (down) to pass and threw to Tavon (Austin) in the corner (for a 24-yard gain). Another time I checked (down) to a pass and got lit up.”
John Harris is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- West Virginia football team finds late-season mean streak
- Penn State-West Virginia soccer rivalry renews at Elite Eight
- WVU notebook: Holgorsen gives departing Iowa State coach Rhoads respect
- WVU football notebook: Barber, Chestnut hope to return for Texas game
- NCAA Tournament women’s soccer roundup: Penn State, WVU win 2nd-round games