The Times West Virginian


November 11, 2012

Mountaineers can’t stop freefall

Gaffes lead to 55-34 loss at Okla. State

MORGANTOWN — “Silly, junior high mistakes,” that’s what West Virginia Coach Dana Holgorsen called them.

Over and over, from the game’s second play until Oklahoma State walked off their home field in Stillwater, Okla., with a 55-34, victory over the free-falling West Virginia Mountaineers, mistakes plagued WVU.

The fourth straight loss, the longest losing streak since Rich Rodriguez’s debut season at WVU in 2001, was clearly the worst because they simply gift-wrapped it and gave it to the Cowboys.

It wasn’t West Virginia didn’t make some wonderful plays. Wide receiver Stedman Bailey regained his health and his status among the nation’s premier receivers with a school-record tying 14 catches for 225 yards, including one of 75 yards and another for a touchdown.

Quarterback Geno Smith completed 36 passes for 364 yards and a couple of touchdowns, one of the completions being thrown to seldom used wide receiver Conner Arlia with the season’s most spectacular catch, and one of the touchdowns being to senior wide receiver Ryan Nehlen, who was a game captain and who will definitely be seeing more action as this year winds down.

Yeah, there were some wonderful plays … a whole lot more knucklehead plays, most of them on special teams which presented the Cowboys with 17 points they didn’t earn.

“You can’t make very simple, junior high mistakes, and be a very good football team,” Holgorsen said as he opened his postgame interview session.

As noted previously, it started on the game’s second play when Smith and running back Andrew Buie missed the most simple of handoffs. That was like pushing the start button on a video game, for the rest of day the Mountaineers were doing things that defied belief.

In fact, Smith and Buie weren’t even through, for later in the game on a handoff they got their legs tangled with Buie falling to the ground for a loss. Somehow the statisticians missed that, for Smith was never credited with a tackle for a loss.

Over and over it went.

There were mixups on pass patterns, there were penalties and then there were those special team mistakes.

Now everyone knows that for most of this year the special teams units were laughable, but they seemed to be putting it together recently. True, in this game there were facing a special punter and placekicker in Quinn Sharp and special return man in Justin Gilbert, but they got a lot of help from WVU.

“Some of the issues we had were flat-out unacceptable," Holgorsen said. “I don’t know how to coach that when the ball comes to you, you get it and return it. If the ball hits the ground on a punt, everyone in the country, starting in junior high, goes, ‘Peter, Peter, Peter, Peter,’ and gets away from the ball.”

Such a ball came to Tavon Austin, and sure enough he hollered “Peter, Peter, Peter, Peter” while waving for everyone to get away from the ball. The only mistake he made was not getting away himself, the ball bouncing into him for a fumble.

“I can’t explain that. I have no answers for that. The special teams flat-out gave them 17 points. That was probably the biggest difference in the game," Holgorsen said.

That, of course, wasn’t all.

The absolutely worst special teams mistake came early. Trailing 14-0 and facing a fourth an 13 with Geno Smith having to leave the game because he had just lost his helmet, Paul Millard came cold off the bench and threw a perfect touchdown pass to Bailey to make it 14-7 and get the Mountaineer juices flowing.

Unfortunately, they had to kick off and Gilbert fielded it at his 4, started off slowly, got a block and burst through a hole 96 yards to a touchdown, negating the emotion of Millard’s heroics.

That was not the only kickoff problems to crop up. There was a bouncing kickoff from Sharp that actually bounced off Buie’s neck and went to Oklahoma State. Naturally, the soon scored.

Next came a perfect punt by Tyler Bitancurt, who has a wonderful day kicking and punting, that bounced at the OSU 5, with four Mountaineers’ standing around it … then bounced again at the 1 and again in the end zone.

And there was another bouncing kickoff that Austin couldn’t handle,  having to recover it himself inside his own 10.

“Silly, junior high mistakes”, that’s what they were.

Still, somehow, West Virginia hung around in the game and actually, after Terrence Garvin intercepted a pass and ran it back to the Oklahoma State 1, setting up a quarterback sneak by Geno Smith for the touchdown, WVU had cut into an OSY lead that three times had been 14 points and narrowed it to four, 38-34.

This was when quarterback Clint Chelf took control of the game. A third-string quarterback making his first career start after having fallen behind two freshmen on the depth chart, Chelf looked like Peyton Manning at times as he completed 22 of 31 passes for 291 yards and four touchdowns.

The second TD came in the fourth quarter for 26 yards to Josh Stewart, who had a miraculous game himself, to make the score 48-34 with 12:05 left.

Stewart’s game included 13 catches for 172 yards and two scores and  one rush on a double-reverse for a 46-yard touchdown, giving him 218 all-purpose yards in the game.

NOTES: WR Tavon Austin caught 11 passes and has had only one game in which he did not catch 10 or more. He also was used in the running game more than usual with 5 carries but accounted for only 15 yards there. … WVU has now given up a school record 373 yards, breaking the mark of 364 given up in 1978. … When Dana Holgorsen took over as coach WVU had lost only two games since 2000 in which it has scored 30 or more points. It has now lost back-to-back games in which it gave 30 or more and also the Louisville game last year. … Wide receiver Ivan McCartney did not accompany the team to Oklahoma and Holgorsen refused to give a reason why.

Email Bob Hertzel at Follow on Twitter@bhertzel.

Text Only
  • Berner, Hess lead W.Va. Open

    Threatening weather did not strike Wednesday, and it was a cool, breezy start to the 81st West Virginia Open played on the Cobb Course at The Resort at Glade Springs.

    July 23, 2014

  • WVU, Tennessee finalize 2018 meeting

    West Virginia University and Tennessee have finalized their season-opening, Sept. 1, 2018, meeting in Charlotte, N.C., at Bank of America Stadium.
    Both teams will receive $2.5 million for the game and have a chance to earn up to $3.2 million with ticket incentives.
    Each team will buy 12,500 tickets and set aside 2,000 of its allotment for students.
    The game, played on the home field of the Carolina Panthers of the NFL, is being put on by the Charlotte Sports Federation.

    July 23, 2014

  • Holgorsen’s program hits turning point

    You can almost sense, as you watch West Virginia University football coach Dana Holgorsen sit before the gathered Big 12 media contingent answering questions in the Omni Hotel in Arlington, Texas, that he senses his program has reached a turning point.

    July 23, 2014

  • Fleming, Billy.jpg WVU’s Fleming signs contract with Yankees

     Second baseman Billy Fleming of the West Virginia University baseball team has signed a professional contract with the New York Yankees, foregoing his upcoming senior season.
    “Ever since I was a little kid, it’s been my dream to play professional baseball,” Fleming said. “It is still surreal that I get to chase my dream, but I am ready to get after it. I loved my three years at WVU and want to thank all the coaches that made it possible for me to achieve my dream.”

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Big 12 Media Days Foo_time(1).jpg Trickett’s play key factor for Mountaineers’ success

     In the end, it comes down to the quarterback.
    Always has with Dana Holgorsen, always will.
    Quarterback is the offense with the West Virginia University coach. When he does well, the team wins – almost always.
    When he does poorly, the team doesn’t stand much of a chance.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Growing demands on college athletes concerns Wyant

    Fred Wyant, one of the greatest quarterbacks in West Virginia University’s history, has lashed out at today’s growing demands on college athletes.
    The 80-year-old Star City resident led the Mountaineers to a 30-4 record as the starter from 1952-1955. Percentage-wise, it’s clearly the best-ever record by a QB in school annals.
    Wyant, a member of the WVU Sports Hall of Fame, came here after graduating with honors from Weston High School. That’s where WVU coach Art “Pappy” Lewis signed him to a four-year scholarship.

    July 23, 2014

  • Big 12 Media Days Foo_time.jpg Texas’ Strong prefers not talking about national title

    Charlie Strong riled up plenty of Texas fans during a statewide spring tour by saying the Longhorns wouldn’t be in the national championship game.
    The new coach toned down his honest assessment in future stops, then said Tuesday in his first appearance at Big 12 media days that he prefers not even talking about championships.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • NMHS hopes new playing surface generates excitement

    The St. Louis Rams coined the nickname “The Greatest Show on Turf” for their collective group or multiple Hall of Famer-caliber players in during the 1999-2001 seasons. If Rams can run on turf, why not Huskies? 

    July 22, 2014

  • FSU's Barfield, Jean-Charles named preseason All-Americans

    Chris Barfield and Jacob Jean-Charles earn preseason honors by being named to the USA College Football Division II Preseason All-American team.

    July 21, 2014

  • Baylor coach isn't buying schedule strength argument

    The College Football Playoff committee has vowed that strength of schedule will be a major criteria when selecting the four teams.

    July 21, 2014

Featured Ads
NDN Sports
House Ads
NCAA Breaking News
NCAA Photos