After watching their Mountaineers put up 69 points against Marshall University, WVU fans will have to wait until Saturday, Sept. 15, to see if Geno Smith and Company can better that mark when they face FCS opponent James Madison at 4:30 p.m. at FedEx Field in Landover, Md.
Obviously, and rightly so, the lion's share of the talk surrounding the team's 35-point win in the Friends of Coal Bowl was the near-perfect performance by Smith, who completed 32-of-36 attempts for 323 yards and four touchdowns, or that of senior running back Shawne Alston and his 123-yard, two touchdown effort against the Thundering Herd.
The numbers that caught my eyes, however, were on the defensive side of the football. Numbers like 31, 8, 95, 96, and 9.
Those were the numbers of the freshmen that were listed on the Mountaineers' two-deep depth chart in the team's season opener. But, they just begin to tell the story.
"Twenty out of 30 guys were first time players," co-defensive coordinator Joe DeForest said during Tuesday's press conference.
And, it showed at times during the game as Marshall's Rakeem Cato completed 38-of-54 attempts for 413 yards and two scores.
"I think we did a great job of getting to the quarterback, and Cato did a great job of getting the ball out of his hands," said defensive line coach Erik Slaughter. "We hit him a couple of times, and we slipped off him twice where we could have had sacks."
The defense did have its moments as Terence Garvin's 6-yard sack of Cato, and forced fumble, led directly to freshman Isaiah Bruce's 43-yard fumble return for a touchdown and Doug Rigg's 46-yard interception return led to another easy score by the offense.
Bruce's 16-tackle (7 solo) effort did not go unnoticed as the first-year player was selected as the Big 12's Defensive Player of the Week while Smith as the conference's Offensive Player of the Week.
* * *
This was the week that WVU was supposed to travel to Tallahassee, Fla., to face the Florida State Seminoles and West Virginia native Jimbo Fisher, the team's head coach. All that changed, however, when the Mountaineers accepted the Big 12's invitation to join its 10-team league-and 9-game round robin scheduling.
It would have been interesting to see how No. 9 WVU's offense would matchup with the No. 6 Seminoles' defense. The last time these two programs met, fans of the old gold and blue had little to cheer about as FSU came away with a 33-21 Gator Bowl victory in Bobby Bowden's final game on the sideline.
A hefty buyout allowed WVU to keep Marshall, James Madison and Maryland as its slate of non-conference foes and pretty much guaranteed that an unbeaten Mountaineers team will enter Big 12 play against visiting Baylor on Saturday, Sept. 29.