MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — There was shame in the distance, humiliation on the horizon and mortification taking hold in the mountains.

Forget the spiking frequency with which FCS teams have begun kneecapping the BCS big boys—five times this very weekend, in fact. And realize that these upsets become topical only because they’re not supposed to happen.

What nearly happened to West Virginia at the under-resourced hands of William & Mary would have made the Pinstripe Bowl feel downright encouraging. Drop this game inexplicably to a lower-level squad and eight months of personnel upgrades and pride installations would have been dynamited into the exosphere.

Fortunately for the Mountaineers, there is a slim line between ravage and reprieve, a line that Saturday arched 69 yards from the shoulder of Paul Millard to the hands of Ronald Carswell. Their deep-post hookup late in the third quarter leveled the score and re-energized the heavy favorites at a time when panic was creeping into relevance.

MORE MOUNTAINEERS: Defense pitches second-half shutout.

And while Millard-to-Carswell potentially saved WVU from the Labor Day losers’ club of Kansas State, Oregon State, UConn and South Florida, it was the previous play—a seemingly innocuous 4-yard slant to Carswell—that had offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson convinced to strike deep.

“I knew it was six points right then, the play before,” he said. “Because we had them set up.”

Set up by a running game that, according to head coach Dana Holgorsen, finally had William & Mary’s safeties engaged after more than 40 minutes of action.

“Seeing as how we were running the ball like 80-percent of the time,” Holgorsen said almost in self-mockery, “if I was them, I would have probably screwed those safeties down as well.”
In the coaches’ booth upstairs, Dawson recognized WVU “had a little bit of a bead on that certain formation” and how the Tribe would defend it more tightly than others.

Starving for an explosive play as much as his boss, Dawson only hoped his guys could execute: “I just knew if we could throw and catch, we’d have it.”

MORE MOUNTAINEERS: Video from Saturday’s win and postgame

Millard, the kid who learned only the night before that he would make his first college start, had no qualms about the throwing part of the equation. He knew the heavy package would entice the safeties toward the line, and he knew Carswell has the wheels to capitalize. Millard only hoped to be more accurate than he was on an earlier deep pass that floated too long for Ivan McCartney.

The quarterback’s self-instruction while awaiting the snap? “Make sure I don’t overthrow the guy. I knew the play was probably going to be good, because it was everything we wanted. I just wanted to give Ronnie a catchable ball.”

On the other end, Carswell needed to beat cornerback Jesse McNeal to the middle, which he did easily, and the junior college transfer appearing in his first Division I game angled across the vacated field, tracking Millard’s bomb in stride.

“I was excited to see (Carswell) in there because he’s got juice—he can run,” said Holgorsen. “KJ (Myers) and Ivan are physical and they’re going to get their hands on people and make great possession catches, but they can’t run like Ronnie can. So it was time for him to get in there and get behind (the secondary), and he did.”

The juice was loose for West Virginia, and loose, mind you, at a time when the prospect of an embarrassing upset was about to turn tight. The aftershock of a close call like Saturday’s 24-17 win is minuscule compared to what Virginia Tech endures three years after its lost afternoon against James Madison.

“We’ll probably get more out of that win than we would have if it was easy,” Dawson said. “Because we got to see people perform when we were getting beat, perform when it was tough.”

MORE MOUNTAINEERS: Why WVU was so run-heavy Saturday.
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Comments

  • richard

    the team will be okay. but the uniforms are just gaw awful. they are horrible. they are ugly. they are hideous, they are the worst looking in all of college football, they are......you get the drift. next year, go back to the old helmets and uniforms. or at least put some shine and kuster back in them.

  • WVUFaninFL

    Two outstanding catches and a trick play resulted in the only points scored by W&M!

    A defense that buckled down and pitched a shutout after getting behind in the game. A young receiving corp that caught nearly everything thrown their way. A group of running backs that showed strength, speed and support for each other. I look forward to seeing what this team can do. Breaking in tons of new players and a new quarterback is no easy task.

    I guess this group of players coaches and staff must win a national title in order to be "real" coaches, players and leaders.

    I am looking forward to cheering for the Mountaineers through the good and the bad.

    Let's Goooooo Mountaineers

    • Dave

      I'm glad to see that there are still some real true Mountaineer fans out there. Not like most of these wannabe bandwagon fans that comment on here. The ones that don't stand behind their team when times are tough and rebuilding is evident. The ones that just want to beat their gums and put down our team. Well, there are many true Mountaineer fans that cheer on their team through the thick and the thin. You're just not going to find many commenting on these sites. You know the ones where you don't have to show your face and just hide behind a keyboard.

    • Mountain Uncle

      Yep, that's the game that I watched too. A lot of new guys that are learning their way. I see a lot of positives. I guess some folks only see the glass half empty all the time. I am excited about this team and what they can do. Of course next week is going to be a real test. Can't wait to root for them again. Go Mountaineers!!!!

  • big tom

    all of a sudden, lots of fans agree with the outlook,,to a point... I agree that 6 wins will take a small miracle...and for sure, this isn't the big east...we won't have five chump teams to beat, we've got a whole schedule of teams that are equal or better than we are.
    week in and week out, we have to play great games to win,, not like that in the big east.
    it's going to take awhile to adjust to this, like 2 to 3 yrs of good recruiting.... dana will be just fine if he's given the chance...we have a darn good coaching staff except for one, and he's so over paid it makes me sick
    you might be shocked to hear me say this, but we need time and players to compete,,, this coach or anyother will need the time.. changing coaches won't change reality..
    yes,the big 12 probably hates not inviting Louisville.. but we're in and they're acc, so let's get over it..
    we'll be fine, not sure about huggie and BB but FB will have a hard time this yr and turn the corner in 2015

  • 1olewvufan

    I saw many positives in yesterday's game, and Yes, the excitement of watching Geno, Tevon and Sted was not there. But we did see McCartney again refuse to make an attempt to catch a pass that wasn't put right in his hands.

    The kicking game is vastly improved, and Coach DeForest is back doing what he does well. The Safeties, LBs, DL, OL all picked their play up in the 2nd Half. The offensive backs are all they have been advertised to be. Mallard will eventually give way to Trickett, and WVU has no star at QB this season. While I saw better CB play, Coach Mitchell has his work cut out for him. The CBs need work.

    This team has new coaches and players. The more the play together the more they will bond and support each other, and as a unit they will grow and get better. No, WVU will not win the Big XII, but they will have a much better season than most expect.

    Depth at the positions is something new for Coach Holgorsen. Holg is finally on the right path. Before tossing out the baby with the bath water, let us be patient and see how this season turns out. I think WVU has a real good chance at beating Oklahoma next week, and the first big and true test will be Oklahoma State. The Oklahoma State game will give us the best insight as to the team Holg has put together this season, as well as to the talent he and his staff have to coach.

    • Martinsburg

      It's Millard not mallard for the 100th time.....

      • WVU2013

        Did you mean to say "The quarterbacks name is Millard"? Idiot!

  • Lo boy

    Anyone have thoughts on IMG's first radio broadcast?

  • Protechcpa

    We are no longer "fans". Big money football has converted us into customers, or "profit centers". To each his own, but if I am now a customer and my supplier has raised the price of everything, I want what I paid for. If customer satisfaction is irrelevant, they must not need us. Just close the games to the public and play for..........??????????? I guess to please themselves.

    • wvrefugee

      Bump!

    • Luke

      Agreed. Bring in the money on the false pretext that more money means better teams. The Yankee$$ and now the Dodger$$ have helped perpetuate that myth but it doesn't translate to the college level. Nearly all of the elite college football programs are in states that have lots of top caliber athletes, WVU isn't in one of those states and it can't go out and buy players like the Yankee$$ and the Dodger$$.

      What $82 million a year gets fans in Morgantown is the opportunity to pay more and more to watch a team struggle with the Norfolk State's and William & Mary's of the world.

      That isn't being a disloyal fan it is simply a recognition of reality.

    • Jeff

      I agree. We are customers who,are forced to pay through the nose to see the team we love. We used to pay $5 to park and now we pay $20. We lost a home game this year thanks to the pimp's scheduling so we were rewarded with a $30 reduction in season ticket prices only to end up paying $65 for the privilege of seeing the Maryland game in Baltimore. Beer sales have ruined the game experience because of the drunks who think they're still in the student section. But we keep going because we love the Mountaineers.

  • Matt

    Fickle = WVU fans.

  • Ron

    WVU fans have become an embarrassment. Ask them today and they are die hard and ask them tomorrow and they can't stand anything about WVU. Are these the same fans that head coaches didn't want to deal with when conference realignment was taking place? Can't blame them

  • Luke

    Chief Powhatan says the Tribe may not have been the only Cream Puff in that game.

  • Big Larry

    WVU football under Don Nehlen was fun…WVU football under Rich “Show me the Money” Rodriguez was fun…WVU football under Bill Stewart was fun…WVU football under Dana “The Man in Black” Holgorsen is no fun and it will never be any fun. It just is what it is…an offensive coordinator with an attitude pretending to be a head coach. But he is Ollie’s boy and we are stuck with him as we are stuck with Bob “Sweatsuit” Huggins. Bobby Petrino is definitely an option at this point.

    Despite their prolific high salaries, neither Holgorsen or Huggins has yet to bring anything to WVU…and they never will.

    Yesterday was an embarrassment to WVU football and next week will be even worse. The beat down next Saturday at Norman will be of Epic proportions. Oklahoma will run and pass the football at will. To me, the defense is the same as last year and showed very little if any improvement.

    Nevertheless, as true Mountaineers, let us all get behind Ollie’s boy Dana and root the team on even though in our hearts we know they will get hammered in the Big 12.

    Here’s the Call: Oklahoma 52 WVU 14

    Oh…One more thing, the new uniforms looked like crap…especially with those washed out “matt finish” helmets with the cheap gold WVU logo. What was Holgorsen thinking? Bring back the old Metallic blue helmets. The new uniforms looked better in pictures than in real life…

    Anyway that is just my opinion and I think everyone is entitled to hear it.

    • Justin

      Say what you will about Huggs but he's loyal to our state and has had sucess and will again have success, in all honesty he's playing an NBA schedule with the traveling he's doing. I agree with the Dana comment it doesn't feel like WVU football anymore, there's no more relax have fun mantality. Were gonna end up under major NCAA sanctions with Oilver.

      • wvrefugee

        I'm loyal to our state too and that don't make me a D1 hoops coach!

    • WV07

      @Big Larry...Listen you rocket scientist you are entitled to GIVE an opinion.....nobody is entitled to HEAR it. That statement makes you sound just as uneducated has your negative comments.

    • joe

      Big Larry you make me sick. Everything you say is negative. And by the way We are not entitled to hear it you uneducated @rick. Man you @iss me off something fierce. "The hills come alive with the sound of old gold and blue thunder".

    • joe

      Oh and by the way huggins took us to the final four ,elite 8, and a sweet 16. But your right he never brought anything to WVU . SURE. SMH and You would like to see Bobby Petrino. What an embarrasment you are to us.

  • bva24

    This is going to be a rough stretch of seasons for the Mountaineers. The talent brought it by the last staff is gone. All that is left is the scraps brought in by this overpaid, overrated, and overmatched coaching staff. They can't develop players or evaluate talent. Get used to 4-5 win seasons.

    Fans will have to speak with their pocketbooks to persuade Ollie to get rid of his boy. As long as the money rolls in Ollie won't care who is roaming the sidelines.

  • Allan

    Congratulations to the special teams play, great coverage on kickoffs, great punting for the most part!!! We need a kickoff specialist who can put it out of the end zone like W&M's kicker.

    • Charles

      Genius . Both kickers did with the wind going toward the hospital. Both kickers toward the scoreboard dropped in at the 5. Wind dictated that

  • Allan

    The bottom line is what Luck is responsible for and the W&L's are what the coaches take responsibility for and unless the offensive line improves and the defense gets a little more aggressive and nasty, we probably won't win anymore games than 4....if we are lucky.

  • george

    But still this happens, even to the big boys--no one wIll forget Appalachian State and Michigan and the list goes on . We better soon forget about William and Mary ..........we have far more challenges ahead...........beginning with Oklahoma.........................Lets go Mountaineers!!!! ( and by the way..congratulations to the Thundering Herd )

    • Martinsburg

      I love my mountaineers but yesterday was absolutely embarrassing. I was at the game and you could tell there was no energy on the sidelines, piss poor performance by the offensive line and millard showed me nothing more than he is in way over his head. Next week at OU will be brutal.

      • DonaldH

        He had 237 yards passing and was 19 for 25, not bad, However; certainly no one was thinking WVU would compete to win the Big 12 this year? I still maintain that if the Big 12 could have a "do over" with the advantage of hind-sight, UofL would be there instead of WV. Better geographical fit as well as a hungrier program,staff, and administration..

        Seems Luck is more interested in the bottom line more so than Wins vs Losses

        • Truthteller

          Wow you are one delusional person for sure. WVU was the flagship team of the Big East not Looneyville. WVU had five or six Big East titles and won 3 BCS bowls. Has had three shots at national titles. Looneyville is a basketball school.
          They are a decent football team. Looneyville has a long way to go to be even close to WVU in football.

          • wvrefugee

            You must be crazy!!! UofL won their BCS game last year, won national championship in mens hoops, runners up in womens hoops and made the college world series in baseball! Who are you fooling??? Flagship my eye!

          • eliotz

            Ditto. He's nuts. WVU had 4 BigEast football titles, plus 4 shared and 3 BCS Bowl Games and WON all three. Louisville won 2 BigEast football Titles and 1 shared and appeared in 2 BCS games, winning both.

            Louisville is following WVU's lead clearly. Going to the ACC after WVU defected to the Big12. However, we can expect big things from LU this year and going forward. A lot of WVU fans are also Louisville fans from family members, as so with Marshall and that @#^% PITT.

          • DonaldH

            Flagship of the Big East? well certainly they were after BC Miami and VT left and Big 12 Officials thought so, too. But after last year and a Big East 3 rd place team demolished them in a bowl, well, you know... Oh,, make that Big East 4th place team

      • Ridgerunner

        We saw a lot of offensive players yesterday and as evident in Holgorsen's electing not to score in the remaining seconds he was still evaluating the team. I don't think there was any doubt that we were not going to survive the game. I was concerned with our lack of pressure to the QB in the 1st half and the defenses refusal to lock down on McBride. But I saw some positive adjustments at the half on defense. Keeping the score tight plays well in motivating the team to focus hard on next week. OU did not look very well in the first half yesterday offensively (considering their ranking), pounding the rock on the ground for the most part, but they may have been holding back and evaluating a bit ALSO.
        The sky is not falling (yet)
        Keep chopping wood

    • Justin

      And that coach was forced to resign.

      • Charles

        And that coach under recruited for three years that left us woefully lacking depth. Look how many new players have to play right now. To expect this many newcomers to hell day 1 is crazy!!!! This teams ceiling is high. Crazy athleticism in most spots but 1. This team will be better week 7 than it is now. Nowhere near a finished product. To expect a team that replaced basically the whole offense to jell day is ludicrous.

    • Magic Mike

      Michigan was not a good team then.

  • Lo boy

    4 to 5 wins seems very likely, and I am being optimistic!

    • Redford

      I agree. 4 wins at most.

    • Charles

      Funny how all of you football guru's can figure all this out game 1. And know so much about this teams destiny. Last time we had this much roster turnover and qb rotation with a suspect d. 2005. Ask Georgia how that worked out. Game 1 that year. A 15-7 win over a hapless Syracuse team that finished 1-10. It only took 5 games to figure out the future qb that year. And the day 1 starter wasn't it. A hc that the honeymoon was over and pressure was mounting. But I know you guys don't like facts and details. I know you guys know sooooo much about football. Coached at so many levels. Geniuses around here.