The 2012 West Virginia Mountaineers have become must-see TV. Their potent offensive attack makes for magnificent entertainment, and even the non-college football junkies are taking note of the ridiculous things quarterback Geno Smith is doing with a football.
Up until their road win at Texas, however, West Virginia hasn’t gotten the respect it deserves, at least not the team itself. We praise Dana Holgorsen, Geno Smith and the deadly combination daily, but the entire product and its 2012 potential has been vastly overlooked.
Geno Smith is widely viewed as the Heisman Trophy favorite and it’s easy to see why. With four more touchdowns Smith now has 25 total scores on the year and zero interceptions. He did, however, have two key fumbles against the Longhorns although the team was able to overcome those and win.
Stretching back to last year, Smith has now thrown 30 touchdowns without an interception. That’s hard to wrap your head around, and he’s certainly the game’s most popular name at this point. As he should be.
What Smith is doing is nearly unprecedented, but many have yet to accept this team as a Big 12 title favorite and even a national championship contender. They’re viewed as not just a system offense but also a system team that will falter at some point.
And while West Virginia could very well lose a game or more before the regular season comes to a conclusion, it’s time we view them as much more than box score legends.
Although we’re still trying to figure out what kind of team Texas is, this was fantastic road victory for WVU. West Virginia’s offensive line was under fire, as was their defense once again, but they held up enough.
The Mountaineer defense actually limited Texas to 3.5 yards per carry on the night, which was a major matchup heading into this game. Texas still moved the ball well, but we knew that would be the case.
On the other side, West Virginia showcased that it can run the ball if necessary. The Mountaineers went for 192 yards against the Longhorns and picked up valuable yards on the ground when they needed to keep the clock moving at the end. This isn’t the identity of the team, but they have shown they can take on this style when it’s required.
In the end, their look and feel is very clear: They’re going to throw the ball more than their opponent and more efficiently than whomever they play. Although we don’t typically view this style as overly successful in the long term, I’m not sure we’ve seen a team that has mastered its offense quite like this.
Texas was just the first of many tough games ahead. In fact, over the next five weeks West Virginia will play at Texas Tech, Kansas State, TCU, at Oklahoma State and welcome Oklahoma to Morgantown. It’s a brutal stretch, and the offense will have to stay sharp if they want to navigate through it unscathed.
With the upsets that have transpired, however, West Virginia is no longer just a gimmick offense and the favorite to win the Big 12. You’ll hear the term “Heisman” mentioned with this team plenty, but forget about the individual awards, and even their place in the conference.
If they can keep Geno Smith upright, they could have bigger plans.