Geno Smith stood in the pocket on third-and-4, tracking his downfield receivers before settling on a swing pass to Andrew Buie who was tripped up for no gain.
The punt team jogged on, the offense trotted off, and back on the West Virginia sideline, coach Dana Holgorsen gave his Heisman-hopeful quarterback an All-American chewing.
Holgorsen’s most demonstrative — uhm, let’s call it "teaching moment" — of the 31-21 win over Maryland followed West Virginia’s third successive punt and typified a somewhat frustrating afternoon for the offense. According to offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson, Smith likely overlooked a receiver open across the middle.
"The Mike linebacker’s the one that made the tackle (in the flat), and that’s really our key on that play," Dawson said. "If he’s running that hard to tackle the back, we’ve got guys (uncovered) in the middle of the field. I’ve got to watch film, but I’m guessing we had a guy wide open."
Maryland’s pass rushers sacked Smith twice and affected him on several throws, leading Holgorsen to suggest "they got to him and rattled him a little bit."
Though Smith completed 30-of-43 passes for 338 yards and three touchdowns — all to Tavon Austin — he criticized his performance as one of "missed throws and missed reads."
"We’re perfectionists around here," Smith said. "We don’t want to settle for being mediocre."
TROUBLE SCOUTING MARYLAND
Think West Virginia seemed shaky against some of the blitzes Maryland brought Saturday? Dawson explained the WVU coaching staff wasn’t sure what to anticipate after watching the Terps face the likes of William & Mary, Temple and UConn earlier this season.
"They hadn’t played anybody who even runs a formation that we run," Dawson said.
Though Holgorsen wasn’t doling out rave reviews, he found satisfaction in that the Mountaineers’ offense — coupled with a defensive touchdown — didn’t hurt itself.
"When you talk about us not having any turnovers and scoring 24 points, that was enough to win," he said.
"I’m as critical as anybody when it comes to what we do offensively, and we didn’t play very good. But we played a better opponent. Defensively, they’re pretty good."
The running game stalled with starting tailback Shawne Alston shelved by a thigh bruise, leading the Mountaineers to run 47 pass plays against 21 runs. (Two sacks and two scrambles left WVU with 25 rushing attempts that netted 25 yards.)
Dawson said the staff doesn’t expect play-calls to be 50-50, just as long as the run and pass games are effective. That wasn’t the case Saturday, as the onus fell upon Smith’s passing. He threw for three scores, giving him 12 this season, and has yet to be intercepted in 118 pass attempts.
"Whenever you sit there and throw the ball into coverage situation all night, eventually you’re going to make mistakes," Dawson said. "The testament to us was that we didn’t. We took care of the ball, which is probably the reason we won the game."