WVU remained perfected despite a less than convincing performance against Maryland. I’m not calling it a bad performance, simply disappointing. It was disappointing because we have all grown accustom to 40+ point performances where the game was never truly in doubt. Granted, Maryland never really had a chance to win, there were times of extreme frustration with our offense and defense.
All in all, you just have to survive and advance at this point. Y’all know my attitude; a win is a win, so I’m happy with the end result.
Geno Smith was not nearly as sharp as he was against Marshall and JMU. Maryland brought pressure, which seemed to rattle him at times. He checked down too quickly on a couple of occasions and held the ball too long others. Maryland was also rotating coverage to Stedman Bailey’s side quite a bit. Normally, people try to prevent Tavon’s touches, but Maryland employed a different strategy. Also, Bailey had a couple unusual drops.
If I’m being overly hard, I would say that Geno did not seem that into the game. He did not show his normal emotion and was seemingly just going through the motions of the game. Then again he did throw for 338 yards, no interceptions and three touchdowns. A lot of college quarterbacks would take that stat line as a "sub-par" game.
One thing I love about Geno is that he admits mistakes and seeks perfection. He owned up to those mistakes after the game and I have faith that he will hit the film room to make sure he doesn’t make the same mistakes this week against Baylor. If he keeps it up he will be striking a pose soon enough.
There is no doubt that Shawne Alston is our number one rusher. Nothing against Andrew Buie or Dustin Garrison, they just don’t have the size and power to pick up extra yards after contact. Buie was unable to hit some seemingly large holes. Watching live I thought it was run blocking, but after watching the replay, holes where there on plenty of runs, Buie just made poor decisions on where to take the ball.
While this is technically "rushing" I would be amiss if I did not mention the poor job our back-ups did of picking up the blitz. Garrison missed a block on which lead to a sack and Buie missed a couple blocks which got Geno roughed up a little. Bottom line: Get well Shawn Alston.
Pass Defense: C-
If WVU’s defense only practices tackling in the open field this week to prepare for Baylor, it will be a useful week of practice. Maryland caught the ball in wide open spaces multiple times throughout the game. That is fine, if we close space and make the tackle. We closed space quickly; we just didn’t make the tackle.
We play some soft coverage, which I don’t disagree with, if you are able to tackle. After watching this game we might as well press the line and play bump and run because we showed absolutely no ability to tackle a guy that is in front of us. Bump the guy at the line to give our rushers a little more time to get a sack. If the receiver gets behind our corners that is fine, because our corners don’t seem to be able to tackle guys in front of them anyway.
One positive was how perfectly we timed multiple blitzes. One led to a touchdown, the other two were quick sacks. I hope we continue this trend and don’t get pulled offsides in the coming weeks because of aggressive blitz packages.
Rush Defense: B+
Good, but not great is how I would describe our run stuffing ability. Maryland was able to pick-up a few first downs on the ground and we gave up a couple long runs. However, we stuffed runs in the backfield multiple times and didn’t allow them to seriously establish a balanced attack.
It needs to stay steady rolling into Big 12 play.
Judging by Holgorsen’s reaction on the sidelines, I don’t think he was happy with some of the decisions Geno made during the game. Watching the replay he was right to yell. Holgorsen called a great play, but Geno checked down too quickly or missed a wide open receiver in his progression. People have "bad games" I’m just glad Geno’s bad game is almost elite.
Our defensive coaches made some good in game adjustments, our guys just couldn’t tackle. The coaches had the players in the right positions, we just missed tackles.
Special Teams: B-
Punting was a lot better and alleviated a worry I had for potential close games where field position would come into play. Kick-offs on the other hand left something to be desired. Holgorsen changed kickers, but got the same results out of both. Your one goal is keep it in the field of play and both could barely manage that.
Our return game is solid and ever dangerous. Tavon is close to busting one and it won’t be long until he does