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WVU off to a very good start

September 5, 2012

MORGANTOWN-West Virginia's 69-34 victory over Marshall had to be most pleasing to Mountaineer fans.

I thought it was one of the most explosive - and impressive - season openers that I can recall.

With quarterback Geno Smith calling the plays, this might well be the most productive offense WVU has ever had. Time perhaps will tell as the team gets into the meat of the Big 12 competition.

The 2012 schedule certainly shapes up as the toughest in West Virginia's football history.

The Mountaineers have so many weapons. They spread the ball around against the outclassed Thundering Herd, with several players making contributions - big contributions.

Of course, Geno Smith was the main one. He completed 32 of 36 passes for 323 yards and four touchdowns.

Keep in mind, too, that those fancy figures were posted in just three quarters - not four.

What's more, the 6-foot 3, 225- pound senior sharpshooter from Miami proved he can run with the ball. Geno gained 65 yards and scored a touchdown on eight keeper plays.

That was even more pleasing to me. So was Tavon Austin's starting strong in all-purpose yardage again with a total of 173 yards in his four specialties.

Shawne Alston led WVU's rushing attack with a career-high 123 yards on 16 carries and he scored two touchdowns.

Last year early injuries limited him in the first five games.

Stedman Bailey topped the deep receiving corps with nine receptions, 104 yards, and two scores. Austin had 10 catches for 55 yards and one touchdown.

Dana Holgorsen, WVU's second-year head coach, paid tall tribute to Geno. He said:

"It's good to have a number of different players. That's what makes this offense pretty good. It's about everyone - not just one guy.

"But Geno is so seasoned and so experienced that he completed 90 percent of his passes and didn't turn the ball over at all. He got us into a bunch of good plays.

"Pretty much every play we called, in one direction or the other, he could get us into the best play.

"He manages a game as well as anybody I've ever been around."

For Smith's last two games, including that 70-33 crushing of ACC champion Clemson, he has completed 69 of 79 passes for 730 yards and 10 touchdowns, and amazingly he didn't throw an interception.

Could that be a modern-day West Virginia University record for two back-to-back games?

Meantime, the Mountaineers started preparing for their Sept. 16 game against James Madison.

That contest will be played at FedEx Field in Landover, Md. It will be known as "Sam Huff Day."



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