MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Though he matched his career-high with seven tackles against Maryland, linebacker Jared Barber couldn’t forgive himself for missing a chance at his first college interception.
With the Terps’ starting their first series backed up on the 4-yard line, Barber read a crossing pattern only to drop a potential interception at the 18.
Later in the first quarter, after Maryland recovered a fumbled punt at the West Virginia 24, Barber once more anticipated C.J. Brown’s pass over the middle. Again Barber got two hands on the ball, and again the pass bounced away—this time into the arms of tight end Dave Stinebaugh for the game’s first score.
Maryland subsequently rolled to a 30-point halftime lead and a 37-0 victory, leaving Barber to rue the two that got away.
“I made the right read and everything, but especially that second one, it really got to me,” Barber said. “I gave up six points and it should have been an interception, should have gave the offense the ball on the 20.
“Those could’ve turned the game around. I just need to grab those.”
NO LOAFS FOR CLARKE
The dry-erase board in the defensive team room continued to taunt Will Clarke, even after he played what coach Dana Holgorsen and coordinator Keith Patterson agreed was the senior’s best game.
Among the columns charting tackles, sacks, QB hits, TFLs, penalties and 14 other performance metrics, there was a category for “loafs”—and Clarke led the defense with five of them, all accrued during the first three weeks of the season.
“I’m going to try to leave it right there at five,” Clarke said after a loaf-free game against Maryland.
What defines a loaf? Clarke described it as a moment of lethargy that typically shows up on game film. For the only three-time winner of the Iron Mountaineer offseason training award, topping the loaf column doesn’t sit well with Clarke, though he recognizes it as a teaching tool to improve effort.
“You may feel like you’re running hard, but then after a while you see more of your teammates getting to the ball and you’re like, uh-oh, I was probably jogging,” Clarke said. “It’s one of those things that shows up after the fact.”
After making two sacks and repeatedly pressuring Brown throughout Saturday’s loss, Clarke jumped from ninth to fourth on the WVU defense’s full-season points list with 56. He trails free safety Karl Joseph (65), linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski (64) and strong safety Darwn Cook (57).
“He was extremely active—he could have had up to five sacks,” said Patterson. “I thought that Will Clarke played his best game since I’ve been here.”
While Clarke leads the Mountaineers in sacks (five) and TFLs (7), he wants to finish plays and leave the loafs title to someone else.
“Coach Patterson calls it running to the ball expecting something bad to happen,” he said, “expecting a fumble or somebody to get the ball out.”
‘IF YOU LOSE, YOU LOSE’
Even though WVU limited Maryland to 2.4 yards per carry and surrendered just one touchdown drive over 24 yards, Patterson wasn’t championing his unit’s performance.
“It doesn’t matter how well you play defensively or how well you play offensively—if you lose, you lose,” he said. “I don’t put any stock in playing good defensively and losing a game. Obviously we didn’t play well enough.”