Marshall at No. 11 West Virginia: Postgame Grades for the Mountaineers' Win

Amit BatraCorrespondent IIIOctober 11, 2016

Marshall at No. 11 West Virginia: Postgame Grades for the Mountaineers' Win

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    West Virginia opened up the season with a statement against Marshall on Saturday afternoon.  Senior quarterback Geno Smith had the game of his life with 323 yards, a mere four incomplete passes and a rushing touchdown. 

    The Mountaineers ended up defeating their in-state rival 69-34.  Smith was the main story with completing 32 of 36 passes without an interception. 

    Running back Shawne Alston ran for 123 yards and two touchdowns.  It was the Mountaineers' highest- scoring opener. 

    It felt like the Orange Bowl all over again to some extent.  While WVU didn't get 70 points, it was a showcase of offensive talent and a lot of potential for the future.

    Here's a look at some of the postgame grades on all facets of the game. 

Geno Smith

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    Geno Smith deserves his own category for this performance. 

    The senior quarterback was incredible for the Mountaineers.  His completion rating was over 87 percent, and he looked as if the Orange Bowl victory gave him a ton of confidence.

    Smith was confident in the pocket and also having the ability to run and get out of potential trouble.

    The WVU quarterback had 388 total yards with 323 in the air and 65 on the ground.  Smith's repertoire came out in this one.

    Smith seems to have been focused as he found his variety of receivers, most notably Stedman Bailey and Tavon Austin. 

    The Heisman Trophy could be held by a Mountaineer for the first time at the end of the season.

    Grade:  A+


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    WVU's offense was very good on the day.  Expect anything less?

    Led by Smith, West Virginia was able to score at ease.  Smith threw two tosses to senior wide receiver Stedman Bailey for 32 yards and six yards, respectively.  

    The Mountaineer quarterback also had touchdown passes to Tavon Austin for six yards and J.D. Woods for nine yards.

    It wasn't all the passing game, however.  Running back Shawne Alston ran for 123 yards and two touchdowns. 

    In fact, the West Virginia running game compiled 331 yards.  While Marshall had more passing yards on the day, the Mountaineers had 110 more total yards in the game. 

    WVU only had one turnover when backup quarterback Paul Millard threw an interception.  One of the only mistakes came when head coach Dana Holgorsen decided to go for it on fourth down when the score was 13-0.

    Overall, the offense was spectacular in passing and rushing.  West Virginia came out with the mindset to impress the country and it was successful.

    Grade:  A


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    The WVU defense had sparks of positive things in the game, but giving up over 400 yards passing is a bit of a scare.

    Marshall had 545 total yards on the day.  Rakeem Cato threw for two touchdowns, an interception and 413 yards overall.

    Some good aspects did come from the Mountaineer defense.  Terence Garvin was able to strip the ball from Cato on one possession.  Isaiah Bruce picked up the loose ball and returned it 43 yards for a touchdown.

    West Virginia's Doug Rigg was also able to get in on the fun with a 46-yard interception to set up a 3-yard touchdown pass from Millard to receiver K.J. Myers.

    WVU does need to keep the opposing team's yardage down, but there was some positive pieces from this game. 

    Grade:  C+

Special Teams

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    The special teams units was one to watch out for in the game against Marshall. 

    There's no surprise that West Virginia teams have struggled with this area in the past. 

    While kicker Tyler Bitancurt did miss an extra point early on in the game, the special teams units didn't suffer too much besides a shaky punt in the game.

    Return specialist Tavon Austin was able to break some tackles and put on a little show for the fans at Milan Puskar Stadium.

    This category will be watched closely throughout the season, but it did pass for the game against the Thundering Herd.

    Grade:  B