The Times West Virginian

WVU Sports

November 6, 2011

Special teams woes doom WVU, lead to home loss

MORGANTOWN — VIDEO: West Virginia vs Louisville football

Somewhere the sun is shining

Somewhere the sky is blue

Somewhere the silver lining is shining for me and you


— “Somewhere the Sun is Shining,” lyrics by Jason Harwell

It was a dark and dreary sunlit day at Milan Puskar Stadium Saturday, a day sick in disbelief and sicker still in the way West Virginia University lost another football game.

The story the scoreboard told was 38-35 in favor of Louisville over the West Virginia Mountaineers, a story that left WVU 2-2 in the Big East Conference.

But that was not the story at all.

“We lost the turnover battle, couldn’t punt and couldn’t kick. It’s pretty easy to figure out what happened,” coach Dana Holgorsen said.

That is saying a mouthful.

And it doesn’t tell half the story.

This is another of those games West Virginia coulda and shoulda won, but didn’t, and it had no one to blame but itself, not even Louisville, which now is 5-4 overall and 3-1 in the Big East. WVU fell to 6-3 and 2-2 in the Big East.

Oh, Louisville played a good game, better offensively than anyone expected. It unveiled a freshman quarterback in Teddy Bridgewater who is going to be a star for the next four years, hitting 21 of 27 passes for 246 yards and making some spectacular plays while under pressure.

But Louisville doesn’t win the game if WVU has any clue on how to kick the ball.

A week earlier, at Rutgers, punter Michael Molinari was a key element of the victory with some spectacular punting.

For all intents and purposes, WVU’s season-long punting problems seemed solved.

So what does he do as Louisville pressures him? Gets off consecutive punts of 12 and 11 yards. The 12-yard punt did not hurt WVU other than in field position. The 11-yard punt wound up in a Louisville touchdown that tied the game at 21.

“When you shank two punts and it doesn’t flip the field and puts us in a bad situation, you still have to go out and play defense,” Holgorsen said.

That, obviously, was costly, but that gets multiplied a hundred fold by the trials and tribulations of placekicker Tyler Bitancurt, who missed one field goal of 32 yards and had another blocked and returned for a touchdown from the Louisville 6.

This is the same Tyler Bitancurt who three weeks back was nominated as a semifinalist for the Lou Groza Award, presented to the best placekicker in the nation. Since then he has missed two extra points, a 32-yard field goal and had another blocked and returned for a touchdown.

Suffice it to say he need not clear out space in his trophy case for the award.

“When you move down the field and are in position to knock the ball through and you have to make it, you do the job up front,” Holgorsen said. “That’s a 10-point swing. It’s obvious to figure out what the difference in the game was.”

This killer of a play came on the first play of the fourth quarter, WVU trailing, 24-21, but sitting on the Louisville 6 with fourth and two, about to tie the score. Defensive back Adrian Bushell came roaring around from the right side, laid out in front of Bitancurt and knocked the ball sideways.

There to scoop it up was fleet defensive back Andrew Johnson at the 18-yard line, and he ran 82 yards for the touchdown, entering the end zone blowing kisses to the WVU cheerleaders, a display that got Louisville a 15-yard penalty on a play that changed the game.

The day turned dark, right there.

Text Only
WVU Sports
  • smallwood-wendell(1)-2.jpg Charges against Smallwood dropped

     West Virginia University running back Wendell Smallwood took to Twitter mid-afternoon Tuesday to express his feelings after charges of witness intimidation against him were dropped by the state of Delaware.
    It took him only three words to say what was on his mind: “God is Good.” Smallwood is now free to return to West Virginia and rejoin his Mountaineer teammates when they open camp for the 2014 season Thursday.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Charges against Smallwood dropped

    West Virginia University running back Wendell Smallwood took to Twitter mid-afternoon Tuesday to express his feelings after charges of witness intimidation against him were dropped by the state of Delaware.

    July 29, 2014

  • Were Bowlsby’s fears about college athletics’ future justified?

    I have never met or even talked to Bob Bowlsby, commissioner of the Big 12 Conference.
    But I did read a lengthy story on his 45-minute address to reporters last week on Media Day in Dallas, Texas. Among other things, Bowlsby forecast a startling change threatening the existence of intercollegiate athletics as we have known for these many, many years.

    July 28, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Big 12 provides plenty of optimism

    This past week the Big 12 held its annual media gathering in Dallas and served up a heaping portion of optimism for the 2014 season that is now upon us, West Virginia University opening its preseason practices on Thursday.
    This is a time of year when no one has lost a game, not even Charlie Weis at Kansas, and it’s a time of year when opinions are more plentiful than tattoos in an NFL locker room.

    July 27, 2014

  • Seider's brother commits to WVU

    West Virginia University’s football team has received a commitment from one of its own.

    July 26, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Big 12 provides much optimism heading into 2014 season

    This past week the Big 12 held its annual media gathering in Dallas and served up a heaping portion of optimism for the 2014 season that is now upon us, West Virginia University opening its preseason practices on Thursday.

    July 26, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: WVU needs White to follow in former receivers’ footsteps

    A year ago Clint Trickett took a lot of grief as the once potent West Virginia offense came unraveled, but there is more that than meets the eye.
    The criticism was not unfounded, of course, although behind each incomplete pass there was the pain Trickett was suffering through to throw it, his rotator cuff in need of surgery.

    July 26, 2014

  • Forsey posts Top 10 finish at World Championships

    Freshman Jillian Forsey of the West Virginia University cross country team finished ninth at the 2014 IAAF World Junior Track and Field Championships in Eugene, Oregon.
    Forsey, a native of Stephenville, Newfoundland and Labrador, was representing Team Canada. She was the first Canadian to cross the finish line in the women’s 5,000-meter run, finishing in ninth place overall in 16:02.55.

    July 26, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN: Wyant talks about ‘Pappy’ Lewis and other items of interest

    I saved some other interesting observations from the recent interview with Fred Wyant which you may find worth reading.
    He believes a college football coach ought to recruit a quarterback he wants, give him some help, then turn virtually everything over to him and let him go.

    July 26, 2014

  • Forsey posts Top 10 finish at World Championships

    Freshman Jillian Forsey of the West Virginia University cross country team finished ninth at the 2014 IAAF World Junior Track and Field Championships in Eugene, Oregon.

    July 25, 2014

Featured Ads
WVU Sports Highlights
NDN Sports
House Ads
NCAA Breaking News
NCAA Photos