First Look: West Virginia

Mountaineers' balanced passing game fuels one of the nation's best offenses

Through the first two games of the season, the No. 23 West Virginia Mountaineers didn’t prove much.

They dominated Georgia Southern and Liberty – two programs that were in the FCS three years ago. West Virginia showed a lot more about who it will be this past weekend against Maryland.

The Mountaineers (3-0) handled the Terrapins with a 39-point victory that included 45 unanswered points to open the game for West Virginia, which gained more than 600 yards against Maryland. West Virginia has the 12th-best offense in the country.

"Overall, what a day," West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen said to reporters after the Mountaineers’ third victory of the season. "The guys were ready to play. We hit the field running and we didn't look back."

First-year starting quarterback Skyler Howard, who threw his first interception of the season against Maryland, has taken the West Virginia offense to another level. He has thrown for at least 260 yards in every game and is completing 69 percent of his passes.

He’s replacing the departed Clint Trickett, but sophomore receiver Shelton Gibson has done his best Kevin White impersonation to start the season. At 5-foot-11, Gibson will never be confusd for White, but he has developed into quite a home-run threat – averaging 27.4 yards per catch this season.

Gibson had just four catches last season but has led the Mountaineers’ receiving depth, which includes four players with double-digit catches already.

“We are going to ask them to do a lot more than just run fast and catch balls down field,” Holgorsen told reporters after West Virginia’s season-opening victory. “They continue to get better. Their catches will continue to get better. . . . We have something to build on.”

All this talk about the offense, but don’t forget that West Virginia has allowed just 23 points in three games. Oklahoma is by far the best offense that the Mountaineers have faced thus far this season.

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