The Mountaineer mascot and male cheerleaders have a tradition of sorts. After every West Virginia score they do a number of pushups to the rhythm of the band equal to WVU's total points scored.
As the Mountaineers hit 69 points early in the fourth quarter, I noticed that our mascot and a couple of the cheerleaders were fading fast and finishing slow. Come on guys. This is the West Virginia offense. Better hit the weight room.
Quarterback Geno Smith had an amazing day, completing 32 of 36 passes for 323 yards and 4 touchdowns. It's hard to complete that many tossing the ball in your back yard with no one else around, let alone during a football game. Even more remarkable was that the West Virginia receivers made very few difficult catches. The ball was simply consistently delivered right into their hands.
Perhaps what was more eye-catching to West Virginia fans was the dominating performance of the Mountaineer offensive line which protected Smith exceptionally well all day while opening up huge holes for the running game. Featuring a thunder (Shawne Alston) and lightning (Andrew Buie) attack, WVU piled up 331 rushing yards. Throw in Tavon Austin with a run over 70 yards on an end around and Smith dashing 28 for a TD on a broken play, it was a pretty dominating effort by West Virginia running the football.
While one shouldn't draw any conclusions from one game, it was encouraging to see a balanced Mountaineer attack, as last season was one in which the offensive line was inconsistent week to week. Some might suggest that the result Saturday was more due to the weakness of the opponent, and that could be, but remember that WVU was only able to gain a paltry 42 yards running the ball against the Thundering Herd in last season's opener.
For fans who like a lot of fireworks while watching their football, this was as good as it gets. The two teams combined for an amazing 66 first downs and 1,200 total yards. There were a total of 175 scrimmage plays, with Marshall snapping the ball 101 times. Seventy-two passes were completed to a total of 20 different receivers. My guess is that all of the above set records for games played in the 33-year history of the new stadium.
The West Virginia defense, as we expected, will be a work in progress. But with the prolific Mountaineer offense, the stop unit doesn't have to be dominating. If they are able to convert some turnovers, as they did Saturday with one defensive touchdown and an interception return setting up another, WVU will have an opportunity to win each week.
But be sure your seat belt is fastened on Saturdays, because there may be some 50-45 game scores in our future.
If West Virginia had remained in the Big East, this Saturday would have featured a road trip to Florida State, which would have been the marquee game on the entire schedule. But because of the requirement of playing a 9-game conference slate in the Big 12 the game with the Seminoles was cancelled. The Mountaineers will thus have a week off with their next game vs James Madison in Washington, D.C. on Sept. 15.
The extra time may be helpful for the mascot and cheerleaders to work on their pushup strength and conditioning. They may need it.