West Virginia Football: Winners and Losers from Week 3 Win over James Madison
West Virginia eradicated the fears that its fanbase expressed leading up to their Week 3 matchup with James Madison. The Mountaineer fans were worried their team would come out flat and fall victim to a talented FCS opponent.
However, WVU was ready to go at FedEx Field on Saturday, putting on an offensive clinic in a dominant 42-12 win.
The Mountaineers leaned on some of their regular heroes against the Dukes, but also saw a few suspects emerge in the win.
Let's take a look at some of the winners and losers for West Virginia in their win over JMU:
Winners: Offensive Line
The big men up front once again earned some serious praise.
All around the nation this weekend, numerous offensive lines were heavily to blame for the losses of highly-ranked programs.
USC failed to protect Matt Barkley in a loss to Stanford and the same could be said for Michigan State's line in its loss to Notre Dame.
Meanwhile, the Mountaineer offensive line once again kept Geno Smith clean while allowing the running game enough room to work its way to another successful game.
This stat from Nick Arthur of The Daily Athenaeum says it all:
The last time Geno Smith was sacked in a game? December 1, 2011. That's more than three games, 289 days and 242 snaps ago.— Nick Arthur (@NarthurD) September 16, 2012
Winner: Stedman Bailey
It was almost like Stedman Bailey wore an invisibility cloak against James Madison, as the junior had 13 receptions for 173 yards and three touchdowns against the Dukes.
At this point in the season, he's been the best receiver in the country and has to be the front-runner to win the Biletnikoff Award. On the year, he has 22 receptions for 277 yards receiving and five touchdowns, and leads the nation in receiving yards per game at 138.5.
He's on pace to post 1,662 yards and an almost unfathomable 30 touchdowns in the regular season alone.
The Miramar, Florida native has been Geno Smith's go-to guy in the first two games—and I don't expect that to change too much over the coming weeks.
Winner: Geno Smith
Geno Smith made another strong case for his Heisman Trophy campaign.
After game two, the senior has thrown just nine incompletions, but has also accounted for 10 touchdowns: nine through the air and one on the ground.
He finished the day 34-of-39 for 411 yards and five touchdowns, and he still hasn't thrown an interception this season.
However, the biggest moment of the game came late in the third quarter when Smith became WVU's all-time career passing leader after finding running back Andrew Buie for a 30-yard reception.
With 8,191 career yards, Smith now is the most prolific passer in WVU history, and it looks like he'll easily pass the 10,000-yard milestone.
He's also the career leader in passing touchdowns and pass completions.
Loser: Marc Bulger
Marc Bulger saw another one of his records fall into the hands of Geno Smith on Saturday.
The two-time Pro bowler was the previous career leader in passing yards, completions and touchdowns at West Virginia, but will now have to live at No. 2 on WVU's all-time list.
On the bright side, Bulger still owns one record: passing attempts.
The former St. Louis Ram attempted 1,023 passes in his career at West Virginia. Geno Smith has attempted 1,022.
Winner: Isaiah Bruce
Linebacker Isaiah Bruce is becoming a star in Morgantown after just two games.
The freshman recorded a game-high 16 tackles in his first game and took a fumble back 43 yards for a touchdown.
In Week 2, he again led WVU in tackles—this time with nine. He also recorded an assisted sack and two tackles for a loss.
If he keeps this up, he could be looking at freshman all-America honors.
Loser: Corey Smith
West Virginia's only punt against Marshall was blocked.
Against James Madison, Corey Smith also had just one opportunity to punt the ball. Some obvious rust showed on that attempt, as he hit a sideways wobbling kick that went just 24 yards before going out of bounds.
After that, Dana Holgorsen elected to go for it on fourth down every single time, even when the game was well in hand.
The Mountaineers finished 0-for-3 on fourth down, but even still, you have to wonder how often Holgorsen will be punting the ball going forward—especially when the ball is in opponent territory.
Winner: Dante Campbell
In Dana Holgorsen's air raid offense, everyone has a chance to contribute to the fun.
Against James Madison, freshman Dante Campbell and sophomore Connor Arlia became the eighth and ninth players to record a reception for WVU in 2012.
Arlia had one catch for 14 yards, but Campbell receives the props here as his four-yard reception went for a touchdown.
Three freshmen have now registered receptions for West Virginia: Campbell, Jordan Thompson and K.J. Myers. Campbell and Myers both have a touchdown.
Loser: Tavon Austin (In the Return Game)
Poor, poor Tavon Austin.
Sure, he had 11 catches for 113 yards and a touchdown, along with a 14-yard rush, but the guy just can't catch a break in the return game.
He has just two kick returns for 43 yards and three punt returns for 19 yards on the season.
JMU punted the ball seven times for 282 yards—but Austin was forced to call a fair catch on every single one.
Seven punts, but not a single return. Man, it must be rough to be Tavon Austin.
Of course, I'm being a bit facetious here, and after last year's muffed-punt epidemic, Mountaineer fans are just glad that there haven't been any turnovers on special teams yet this season.
Nonetheless, it would be nice to see No. 1 take one the distance at some point this season.