West Virginia football notebook: Coming up perfect on 4th down
College Football Videos
AUSTIN, Texas — West Virginia failed on all four of its fourth-down conversions entering Saturday's game at Texas.
In an impressive turnaround, the Mountaineers were 5 for 5 in their 48-45 win, including a 40-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter from Geno Smith to Tavon Austin on fourth-and-4.
During a 12-play, 76-yard drive capped by Smith's 6-yard touchdown pass to Stedman Bailey that gave WVU the lead for good, the offense was 2 for 2 on fourth down.
“It's how we play,” said Smith, who kept the fourth-quarter drive alive with an 11-yard pass to Austin on fourth-and-6 at the Texas 29. Five plays later, Smith ran for 8 yards on a sneak on fourth-and-1.
“No matter what it takes to win, that's what we're going to do,” Smith said. “Coach (Dana Holgorsen) did a great job managing the situations. He trusted us to get the first down.”
Both of WVU's fourth-quarter touchdown drives lasted longer than four minutes. Not only did the Mountaineers control the clock, they also kept Texas' offense on the sideline.
“We had to get first downs. That's our four-minute offense,” said Holgorsen, whose team jumped to No. 5 in the Associated Press poll — No. 4 in the coaches poll — with the win. “When you're winning by a lot, it's not something you have to do, but we had to do it a little bit against Maryland, and last week (against Baylor) we had to kill the last 3 1⁄2 minutes.”
Senior cornerback Pat Miller heard the criticism directed toward his secondary after the Mountaineers yielded 63 points and more than 700 yards against Baylor.
“It was a tough week mentally because it's hard to bounce back from a game like that,” said Miller, who responded with five tackles — one for a 16-yard loss — and a team-high two passes defensed against Texas. “There were a lot of people criticizing me personally. But you know, we just feed off that.”
After taking a 41-38 to open the fourth quarter, WVU turned back Texas on two straight possessions.
On the first drive, the Mountaineers stopped Texas on fourth-and-13 at the WVU 39. On the second drive — set up when the Longhorns recovered a Smith fumble at the WVU 12 — Miller tackled quarterback David Ash for a loss on third down following an errant snap from center.
Anthony Fera's 41-yard field goal attempt would have tied the score at 41-41, but he missed wide right.
“It was the difference in the game,” Holgorsen said. “If they get a score right there, we're looking at possibly a four-point loss.”
Odds and ends
WVU's win at Texas was its first on the road against a Top 15 team since a 17-14 win at Boston College on Nov. 26, 1993. ... Dating to last season, Smith has thrown 259 consecutive passes without an interception. ... Bailey has 13 touchdown receptions this season, a school record. Bailey has recorded multiple touchdown games in all but once this season. ... Kicker Tyler Bitnacurt punted for the first time in his career. His only attempt was partially blocked and netted 3 yards.
John Harris is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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.
- WVU All-American Joseph out for season with knee injury
- Oklahoma outlasts West Virginia in Big 12 opener
- Mountaineers need to find way to slow down Sooners RB Perine
- Offensive change has Oklahoma rolling entering game against West Virginia
- WVU to host Oklahoma State at 7 p.m. Saturday
- WVU expects intense pass rush from Oklahoma State
- WVU coach Holgorsen expects QB Howard to bounce back