The West Virginia Mountaineers played the rude hosts Saturday as Football Championship Subdivision's Coastal Carolina came to Morgantown from Conway, S.C., eight miles west of Myrtle Beach, to pick up their $350,000 check.
The West Virginia/Myrtle Beach connection is a bit humorous if you know Mountaineer summer vacation pop culture. It takes a lot of hillbillies to drop $350,000 on Myrtle, and we've done it over and over for decades.
The Nine Things:
- As any good West Virginian would say it, Boys, we've got ourselves a quarterback! You need not examine the game statistics of Geno Smith. Watching him sufficed. Geno and his pocket presence is reminiscent of Marc Bulger. He went through his progressions and varied speed, touch, and trajectory on tight throws, like a pro. Jarrett Brown and Pat White were great in their own rights, but Geno Smith is different. He's the passing QB WVU needs to keep the posse of receivers happy.
- Make that two quarterbacks! At 31-0, WVU head coach Bill Stewart inserted Barry Brunetti under center. He's similar to Geno, same crisp throws, maybe with quicker Pat White feet. Stewart's not the type of guy to instigate a quarterback controversy for any reason, but, folks, ah...well, let's just say Mountaineers fans are really lucky in the quarterback department.
- Noel Devine is durable. He was game-planned, getting bounced around all day, mostly going east and west. Then, somewhere around his 21st carry, Noel popped right off a blocker and took it 39 yards. His next run was a touchdown, and that was the afternoon for the little man...who happens to bench 455. Sure, there are things in football to worry about, but Noel Devine getting worn out is not one of them.
- Cornerbacks should be respectful of Mountaineer wideout Ivan McCartney. I saw the true freshman play two series. With the ball on the Coastal Carolina 25, the cornerback gave him ample cushion. McCartney quickly got a step, only to watch a Geno Smith pass go right off his fingertips. It'll be there soon. And often.
- West Virginia wideout Tavon Austin confuses cornerbacks. Geno's only interception came when the Coastal Carolina corner played completely out of position to get the pick. The guy was lucky. Tavon could have smoked him with an out and go. Austin looks fast, and runs even faster. A 100 yard race between Tavon and Noel would be interesting.
- Someday, some game, Bruce Irvin is going to hurt someone. On his second series as an edge rusher, Irvin bull rushed the offensive tackle furiously, knocking a man 60 pounds heavier back on his heels. Bruce didn't get the quarterback in his grips, but he had to have frightened him.
- West Virginia inside linebacker Branko Busick is one fast football player. I saw Branko's high school highlights on You Tube recently. Playing against him, you either a) were too slow to block him, or b) he ran over you. Watching him patrol the middle with his incredible speed, he may be able to cut a college tape.
- WVU cornerback Brandon Hogan will live up to his 2010 top billing. Hogan was all over his receiver all day. However, after Geno was intercepted, the Chanticleer coaching staff chose to go after Hogan for the score. Brandon stretched it out on his man in the end zone and came up with a marvelous pick, preserving the shutout.
- West Virginia fans in Section 214, hear this: the game is four quarters in length. Okay, so you were a little concerned early. Well, maybe, concerned a lot early. Don't be negative. I know, Morgantown is a tough room. It's always been. Just remember: teams play to their competition. Florida had Miami, Ohio (last year 1-11) in The Swamp Saturday and could only manage a 34-12 victory. Texas played Rice (2-10 last year) to 34-17 yesterday.
Next, more about the road trip to Marshall.