The Times West Virginian

WVU Sports

September 5, 2011

Many firsts in Holgorsen’s WVU debut

MORGANTOWN — History demands we record firsts. You know what we mean. George Washington was the first president of the United States, Neil Armstrong the first man on the moon, Roger Bannister the first man to run the 4-minute mile.

So it is as the Dana Holgorsen Era began to unfold at West Virginia. Here are the historic firsts as they happened:

• First coin flip was won by Marshall, which elected to receive.

• First kickoff was returned 33 yards by Marshall.

• Holgorsen, who came to WVU with a reputation as an offensive innovator and genius, ran his first play and it was, as expected, a pass. Those who had QB Geno Smith to freshman RB Andrew Buie for 2 yards in the pool, collect.

• The first possession under Holgorsen looked a whole lot like a Jeff Mullen possession, three and out.

• The first punt by Corey Smith was a beauty, booming 55 yards.

• The first punt return against a Holgorsen team off that 55-yard punt was much like one from the Bill Stewart era, carried back 87 yards to the house by Andre Booker.

What’s that they say about the more things change, the more they stay the same?

• West Virginia’s first run was also by Buie, this going for 9 yards.

• That 9-yard run was not bad but Holgorsen likes big plays, so at 11:30 of the second quarter he mixed in his first trick play. Perhaps he ought to stick to the basics, the flea flicker almost getting Geno Smith killed and ended in an incompletion.

• The first touchdown under Holgorsen came when Smith hit Ivan McCartney running a slant in the back of the end zone from 4 yards out with 13:51 left in the second quarter.

• The first sack of the Holgorsen era came at 9:50 of the second quarter, Smith being leveled by a pair of Marshall defenders for an 11-yard loss.

• The sack also led to the first fumble, that being by Smith with the ever-present Buie recovering.

• The first third-down conversion came rather uniquely on an incomplete pass, Marshall’s Rashad Jackson hitting Stedman Bailey after the play had ended. Jackson’s father is the former NFL player Rickey Jackson.

• The first fourth-down decision by Holgorsen came with 10:38 left in the third quarter. Facing fourth and 1 at Herd 49, Holgorsen opted to go for it, brought in his jumbo backs package, then somehow gave freshman Vernard Roberts his first collegiate carry.

• He is still looking for his first yard gained as the play was stuffed and Marshall went down and got a field goal out of it.

• That field goal led to another first, for Marshall had to kick off and Holgorsen got his first 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown from Tavon Austin, giving the new coach his first two-touchdown lead, 27-13.

The 100-yard kickoff return WAS NOT the first of Austin’s career, having had one against UConn in 2008.

• Moments later there was another first, the first lightning delay in Holgorsen’s head coaching career. The delay went to 2 hours and 18 minutes before play was resumed.

• The first day game of the Dana Holgorsen era became the first night game, too, due to the delay.

• The first crowd was 60,758, which in the end is really all that matters to Ollie Luck. There were only five crowds of 60,000 or more in the Stewart era, only two at home in the last two years.

• In the fourth quarter, when it finally got there, three and a half hours after the second half kickoff, Vernard Roberts gave Holgorsen his first rushing TD from a yard out, moments before the third lightning delay of the night.

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