West Virginia Football: Can The Mountaineers Benefit From "Cougar Ball?"

Tim McGheeCorrespondent IIISeptember 17, 2010

Eugene "Geno" Smith, West Virginia quarterback, has the perfect skill set for Cougar Ball.
Eugene "Geno" Smith, West Virginia quarterback, has the perfect skill set for Cougar Ball.Doug Benc/Getty Images

No, Cougar Ball is not a dance for a gaggle of leggy women in their 40s and 50s and their 20-something male "special friends."

Cougar Ball is an up-tempo, vertical passing attack that employs an accurate touch passer, such as Geno Smith, throwing footballs all over the field to every talented wideout in the quarterback's colors.  Those wideouts could be Tavon Austin, Ivan McCartney, Steadman Bailey, Brad Starks, and others who will play in the 2011 season.

The closest West Virginia has been to playing Cougar Ball was the final eight minutes in regulation  Friday September 10 at Marshall.  Geno was 14 for 17 for 166 yards with a touchdown and the tying two-point conversion.

Pat White employed Cougar Ball in the 2008 Fiesta Bowl over No. 3-ranked Oklahoma.  However, his body of work cannot be described as Cougar Ball as he preferred to pass on the pass and rush on the run.  Cougars usually pass first, then run only to set up the pass.

Here are some 20th century sightings of Cougar Ball by West Virginia quarterbacks: 

  • Marc Bulger played some Cougar Ball all through 1997 and 1998 as he shared the wealth with talented wideouts . 
  • In 1982, Jeff Hostetler beat Oklahoma in Norman putting up Cougar Ball numbers.
  • The current athletic director, Oliver Luck, who at one time lived in Houston, went against 17-point favorite Florida in the 1981 Peach Bowl with a Cougar Ball attack and won 26-6. 

OK, so the 20th century is ancient history.  West Virginia football in the 21st century has had its Cougar moments.  It obviously works to play Cougar Ball, in or out of Morgantown.

If the Mountaineers went Cougar in 2009, and that has nothing to do with Kim Cattrall, here are their rewards:

  • Total offense of around 563.4 yards per game.
  • Passing offense of approximately 433.7 yards per game.
  • Scoring offense on the order of 42.2 points per game.

By now, you should have guessed that Cougar Ball is my name for the offense deployed by the University of Houston Cougars.  The numbers above were executed in 2009 by Cougar quarterback Case Keenum under the direction of Houston head coach Kevin Sumlin.

Because of Sumlin's success at Houston, he is a white hot coaching prospect at schools like, perhaps, West Virginia.

It's difficult to imagine that a head coach such as Bill Stewart sporting a 22-8 record in his time in Morgantown could be on the smoldering seat, but that's the reality in Almost Heaven and among other folks following the situation.

In summary, Cougar Ball would do the two things that the athletic department is charged to do and do them well, or better than they're being done now:

  • Win games
  • Sell tickets.

Cougar Ball exists.  My vote is for Cougar Ball.