— By Alex Hickey
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Yellow flags were the lone red flag in West Virginia’s 52-17 romp over FCS opponent Youngstown State on a rain-soaked Saturday night.
The Mountaineers inflicted more damage upon themselves than the Penguins did, committing 12 penalties for 114 yards. It was WVU’s first game with more than 100 penalty yards since a 38-36 win over Baylor last Oct. 21.
The flags were particularly galling to coach Dana Holgorsen after a relatively clean season opener against Tennessee. West Virginia was penalized four times for 35 yards in that game.
“We weren’t penalized at all last week, and then this week, it was bad,” Holgorsen said.
The flags were so frequent that Holgorsen couldn’t help but ask the officiating crew about whether they had seen this from the Mountaineers before.
“They felt we were doing some uncharacteristic things that they haven’t seen out of us in the past few years,” Holgorsen said. “I don’t know if it was technique. I don’t think it was effort. I don’t know, but we have to look at it. It’s not good. We didn’t play smart.”
The penalty that most stuck in Holgorsen’s craw was an unsportsmanlike conduct flag thrown on Marcus Simms. The receiver, a little too exuberant celebrating Dominique Maiden’s 40-yard touchdown catch in the fourth quarter, flung his helmet all the way on to the field.
“That’s a stupid penalty,” Holgorsen said. “I should have sent Marcus out on the kickoff team to cover. That type of behavior is not going to be tolerated.”
Foolish as the Simms penalty may have been, at least the points stayed on the board and the game was already out of reach. The Mountaineers were fortunate to not get bitten by a third-quarter Chase Behrndt holding penalty that wiped out a would-be 39-yard Leddie Brown touchdown run.
Against a more formidable foe, it could have been a costly mistake. Instead, Brown still got his touchdown from the 1-yard line six plays later.
Senior safety Toyous Avery knows there was some sloppiness, but also doesn’t believe it’s anything for the Mountaineers to lose sleep over.
“That’s something that can be corrected,” Avery said. “I’m not even worried about it.”