The Bottom Line
By Bill Nestor
Last Saturday West Virginia University squeaked by Maryland 40-37 to earn back-to-back wins for the first time since late 2012. In that process the Mountaineers avenged a 37-0 setback a year ago that shook the teams confidence and they were never quite the same, losing 6 of their last 8 following the shutout.
This year a crowd of 48,154 fans at College Park were stunned by a quick strike attack engineered by signal caller Clint Trickett. A 14-0 lead after the first quarter was extended to 28-6 and it looked like the rout was on.
The Terps couldn’t touch Trickett with a ten foot pole as he just sat in the pocket and proceeded to set a new record for passing yards in the air in just three games to average over 400 yards per outing which isn’t too shabby considering two of those opponents were the #3 team in the country (Alabama and this past week’s Big 10 foe). Kevin White continues to be his top target, hauling in 13 receptions for 216 yards and one score. White has been a constant threat early on averaging over 10 receptions and 153 yards per outing.
Despite jumping out to a sizeable advantage, WVU couldn’t coast due to a strong comeback effort from the host; which coupled with a few miscues allowed Maryland to claw their way back to a 37-37 tie late in the affair. Prior to this season fans might have anticipated a collapse that could have led to a heartbreaking defeat. One man just wouldn’t let that happen, as Head Coach Dana Holgorsen remained calm, cool, and composed even under the direct pressure that accompanies the fear of losing such a large lead in such an important tilt.
Holgorsen was shown several times on the tube imploring his troops with calmness and composure that appeared to make a huge impact on his players. Exhibit number one is kicker Josh Lambert. Lambert had a field goal attempt blocked prior to his game winning attempt that took place with mere seconds on the clock.
The Terps even tried to ice Lambert with a timeout but he displayed a hard-shelled focus that allowed him to calmly cap the win with a 47 yarder. The confidence that Holgorsen is showing in his players appears to be increasing their performance level.
In addition, winning a tightly contested border rivalry match up also shows this squad that they have the ability to finish which will pay huge dividends throughout this campaign. A 2-1 start has this team believing that it can get the job done. It also has Mountaineer Nation ready for the upcoming nationally televised lockup with #4, Oklahoma this Saturday in prime time.
The season opener against Towson drew 56, 414 fans; expect that number to increase due to recent success. Fans weren’t quite sure what to expect heading into this season but consistent play early has them optimistic that the glory days might just be here again in Touchdown City. This team was just a few plays from knocking off the Crimson Tide in their back yard. The Sooners aren’t quite as good as Bama and this clash will take place in Holgorsen’s House.
There have been some big wins over Oklahoma in the past but none of those have ever took place in Morgantown. If it were to go down the way Mountaineer fans want it to then it would be the biggest win in terms of ranked opponents in the Dana Holgorsen era and that’s just the start of the impact that a victory would have. It could vault this team back into the top 25 which would provide a shot in the arm as the meat of the conference schedule approaches.
It would put the Mounties in position to make a strong run at their first conference title which is all that anyone could ask of Holgorsen.
Being competitive with the “Big Dogs” would surely get the critics off of his back and that would free him up to do his job. Judging from what I’ve seen so far this year he deserves at least that. Respect – well that could also follow with a few more “W’s” and a win over Oklahoma could bring it sooner than later!
That will do it for now. Until next week…take care and God bless!