West Virginia football notebook: QB Smith bemoans struggles
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith knows the routine.
“It's the same thing — back everyone up,” Smith said of how opposing defenses are stifling the Mountaineers' once potent passing attack. “They don't want to give up the big play.
“It's very hard to throw against eight men (coverage) on an every-down basis.''
Said TCU coach Gary Patterson, “You have a guy who is a Heisman Trophy quarterback, you played all night and held him to x-amount of yards, and you don't let him work his magic.”
WVU coach Dana Holgorsen wasn't happy with the result.
After averaging 52 points in its first five games, WVU has averaged 22 in the last three games, all losses.
“They whipped us up front. The O-line played bad. The receivers didn't make many plays,” Holgorsen said. “It falls on me. What we have done the last three games offensively is totally unacceptable.''
Junior defensive lineman Will Clarke was at a loss for words attempting to describe TCU's late 94-yard touchdown pass that sent the game into overtime.
“We might have thought we had the quarterback, and the guy (receiver) slipped behind us,” said Clarke, who starred at Allderdice. “We had pressure on the quarterback, and it looked like the guys may have thought we had him. That's how it seemed.”
Saturday's overtime game was West Virginia's 10th all-time. It was the Mountaineers' first since a 16-13 loss at Cincinnati on Oct. 29, 2010. The Mountaineers are 5-5 in overtime games. ... Senior Cecil Level and sophomore Ishmael Banks made their first starts on defense. ... Smith tossed three touchdown passes against TCU, giving him 29 this season and 85 for his career. He has thrown 35 touchdown passes in the past nine games. ... Smith carried 10 times for 28 yards. The 10 carries are a season high. ... Tavon Austin has caught at least one touchdown pass in all but one game this season. ... Austin had 11 receptions for 101 yards, giving him a school-record 12 100-yard receiving games. He has five 100-yard games this season and eight 100-yard receiving games in the Mountaineers' past 12 games. ... Austin finished with double-figure receptions for the seventh time this season. ... Austin's 76-yard punt return was the first of his career. WVU's last punt return for a touchdown was Oct. 7, 2006 (Vaughn Rivers at Mississippi State).
John Harris is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.