When does basketball season start?
That was the thought of thousands of West Virginia University Mountaineer fans as they filed out of Milan Puskar Stadium halfway through the third quarter of Saturday night’s do-or-die meeting with Kansas State, each and every one of them mourning the loss of what once seemed destined to be a great football team.
Outplayed in every facet of the game by the Big 12s best team, the Mountaineers were completely embarrassed in a 55-14 defeat that left the Wildcats atop the conference at 4-0 with a regular season record of 7-0 and WVU twisting in the wind at .500 with a 2-2 Big 12 record and now 5-2 overall.
Virtually gone were thoughts of a conference championship and instead of a BCS bowl standing there in their future, it looked more like the Alamo Bowl or its likes after quarterback Collin Klein finished doing unspeakable things to the WVU defense … or what passes for it.
Klein completed 17 of 19 passes for a career high 323 yards, three of the passes good for touchdowns, while he also ran for 41 yards and four TDs. That yardage may not sound like much, but one of every three times he touched the ball he took it into the end zone.
“He doesn’t do anything wrong. He doesn’t make mistakes. He’s hard to tackle. He gets in good plays and doesn’t turn the ball over,” WVU coach Dana Holgorsen said.
Oh, and about the talk that he doesn’t pass very well?
“You can say what you want about his throwing motion, but it goes exactly where he wants it to go,” Holgorsen said.
The same could not be said about Geno Smith on this night as the WVU quarterback saw his shot at the Heisman Trophy die, completing 21 of 32 for 143 yard and one touchdown. He was sacked four times and, yes, his consecutive streak of passes without an interception ended at 327, short of Russell Wilson’s FBS record streak at N.C. State.
He did set a single-season record of 273 passes without an interception before being picked off by linebacker Arthur Brown on his first pass of the second half.
“I felt I went in the right direction (with that pass), but the guy just made a nice play,” said a disappointed Smith.
“This is one of those things where we have reached our low. This is as low as it gets,” Smith continued. “I have never dealt with an adversity of this magnitude. I have never lost two games in this manner.”
The Mountaineers lost last week to Texas Tech, 49-14.
That the defense has been terrible is no longer a story, but the offense?
What has gone wrong? Holgorsen said whatever it is, it will be fixed.
“I don’t forget how to coach offense. The schemes have been the same for a long time, and they’ve been successful,” Holgorsen said.
The atmosphere was festive when the Mountaineers kicked off to Kansas State and there was nothing to forecast what was to come when the defense stiffened to hold that first possession to a field goal.
Who knew it would be the last time they would keep the Wildcats from going into the end zone until the final quarter.
It was a first half in which WVU had neither any defense – which has come to be expected – or offense.
The statistics, which sometimes can lie, were totally accurate in expressing it.
Klein passed for 226 yards, completing an uncanny 14 of 16 passes, not bad for the team that ranked last in the Big 12 in passing. The yardage was just 60 shy of his career high.
One of the passes was a 10-yard touchdown to Tyler Lockett, who might have had a better half than even Klein. Lockett caught seven passes for 146 yards, shadows of Baylor’s Terrance Williams, who caught 17 passes for 313 yards.
West Virginia had been trying to cover the whippet fast Lockett out of the slot with true freshman safety Karl Joseph and it was a dismal mismatch, leading to Joseph finishing the half with nine tackles, six of them after completions to Lockett.
On the other side of the coin, WVU’s offense was being completely stymied by a rock-ribbed Kansas State defense that was slapping them silly. At halftime, K-State had 346 yards gained to just 74 for the Mountaineers, actually having more points with 31 than WVU had plays run with 20.
Smith was 9 of 13 for a paltry 62 yards, a long completion of 13 yards, which was better than the total of 12 yards the Mountaineers gained on the ground.
If it weren’t for Tavon Austin’s gift for returning kickoffs, the entire half would have been a whitewash, but he gathered one kickoff in at the goal line, ran to his left, cut up the middle of the field into a hole so wide it looked like one the Kansas State offensive line had opened and ran 100 yards for the touchdown.
For a just a moment the stadium erupted in cheers, the WVU players rushed down to the end zone to celebrate with Austin … the players except for the defense, which was still trying to catch its breath and knew it had to go back on the field.
So, too, did Klein and company, licking their lips as they went out there and took the ball down the field again for the final score, this on a sneak by Klein.
Email Bob Hertzel at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @bhertzel.
Kansas State embarrasses Mountaineers, 55-14
When does basketball season start?
COLUMN: Extend summer practices without over-extending athletes
Last week we told you about a proposal that would extend the summer practice period for West Virginia high schools.
It’s already cleared the West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission Board of Control. Now it’s up to the West Virginia Board of Education to decide if the current three-week window should be expanded by five weeks.
Bussie looks forward to WNBA
On Tuesday, the weather turned cold, the wind blew and amongst the raindrops that fell a few snowflakes fluttered quietly to Earth.
It was as if it was a celebration of Asya Bussie being drafted on Monday night by the Minnesota Lynx, champions of the WNBA, with the third selection of the second round, the 15th overall pick of the draft.
HERTZEL COLUMN: Jackie Robinson’s impact extends beyond baseball
It is Jackie Robinson Day as I sit here writing this today, and I feel as though I am doing it in a world gone mad.
Every player in Major League Baseball wore No. 42 on Tuesday in honor of Jackie Robinson, the man who took racism’s best shot and integrated the game that was known then as the National Pastime even though it was as white a Ku Klux Klan robe.
Pirates finish off suspended game, fall in nightcap
Mike Leake doubled and hit a two-run homer Tuesday night, ending Gerrit Cole’s winning streak and leading the Cincinnati Reds to a 7-5 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates that completed two days full of homers and delays.
WVU’s Harlee named Big 12 Scholar-Athlete
The Big 12 Conference announced its Scholar-Athlete of the Year recipients for the 2014 winter sport season, and West Virginia University senior Jess Harlee earns the honor for women’s basketball.
Harlee was selected as the award winner based on a vote of each respective sport’s head coaching group, with coaches not permitted to vote for their own student-athletes.
East can’t overcome No. 7 Lincoln, falls, 4-0
Thunder clouds weren’t the only thing looming over the East Fairmont (6-6) softball team Monday when the Lady Bees hosed No. 7 Lincoln. Joining the ominous clouds was a sense of urgency for energy that never showed up as Lincoln was able to shut out East Fairmont, 4-0.
Gyorko, Padres agree to extension
Jedd Gyorko, who hasn’t hit much of anything with a .178 start on this season, hit the jackpot on Monday, signing a six-year contract extension with the San Diego Padres for $35 million with a one-year club option at $13 million.
HERTZEL COLUMN- Spring game showed defense has improved
From Dana Holgorsen’s viewpoint, which was standing right behind the offense, West Virginia’s Gold-Blue Spring Game on Saturday was a rousing success for it showed very little of what the Mountaineers will be in this coming season, probably not even showcasing the man who will direct the offense in the quarterback position.
WVU signs guard; Adrian arrested for DUI
There was something good and something bad for West Virginia men’s basketball coach Bob Huggins this past weekend as Kansas junior college player Tarik Phillip committed to play for the Mountaineers but rising sophomore Nathan Adrian was charged with Under 21 DUI after he was stopped at 1:20 a.m. Sunday for an expired registration sticker.
FURFARI COLUMN- Most plays good, some not so good in Gold-Blue scrimmage
There appeared to be a fine mixture of plays, most good with some not so good, in last Saturday’s West Virginia University’s Gold-Blue football scrimmage.
- More Sports Headlines
- COLUMN: Extend summer practices without over-extending athletes