Commentary: WVU Offense Shows Up Just In Time

Anybody wondering about West Virginia now can stop. This team is a contender.

The No. 18 Mountaineers started quickly for the first time in head coach Dana Holgorsen's short stint as head coach and proved that they are the real deal – and ready to compete with No. 3 LSU next week.

The Mountaineers were caught with their tails between their legs in the fourth quarter after Maryland had made a furious 21-point comeback in a less than nine-minute span. However, WVU was able to come back with a nearly six-minute drive with just more than 10 minutes to play to hit a field goal that would eventually be the deciding factor.

WVU would eventually win the game 37-31.

Sure, that drive would've been much better if it had been finished off with a touchdown. And, if quarterback Geno Smith didn't under-throw wide receiver Stedman Bailey on a fade route on third-and-goal, the game would've been over.

Still, this offense was able to take time off the clock and put points on the board late in a hostile environment.

"It's hard to win, and it's even harder to win on the road," Holgorsen said. "We had all the momentum in the first half, and for them to have all the momentum that existed in the entire stadium, and for us to finish off the game with a field goal and a turnover defensively, I think it says a lot of our team."

It wasn't pretty for much of the second half. Outside of the first drive in the half that ended with a 34-yard touchdown pass from Smith to Bailey, it was fairly hard for the Mountaineers to get first downs.

After pressing and not finding much room for much of the half, though, WVU came through when it mattered.

"I thought we started to make strides in the third quarter after that first drive. We just made some adjustments at halftime both offensively and defensively. We went out and executed better. For whatever reason, when we got back into it, the crowd was louder and our guys got some momentum from that," said Maryland head coach Randy Edsall.

Saturday's late-game drive wasn't as memorable as the drives Smith led against Marshall last year to win that game in overtime, but this final drive against Maryland on Saturday had as much impact.

Bailey made three catches – two going for at least nine yards – and fellow wide receiver Ryan Nehlen caught a 13-yard pass from Smith on third down when he was needed.

With all that said, there is still work to be done – and I feel like I've said this after each of the first two games, as well – but when it counted, the team did what it needed to do.

Remember what Holgorsen has said over and over again: It took time for his offense to fully execute at Oklahoma State last year. It took that team four games to truly be magical on offense.

WVU showed in the first half against Maryland and the second half against Norfolk State that it has the offense to beat No. 3 LSU next weekend – if it plays at a high level through the entire game.

That's easier said than done against the Tigers – perhaps the best defensive team in the country.

It's going to be a tough one, but West Virginia went a long way of proving that it has the potential to pull the upset against LSU next week.

WVU did its job – and now we'll wait to see if ESPN College GameDay will come to Morgantown next week.

It will be a great chance for Holgorsen to prove his offense can beat the best, and that West Virginia can play four quarters for the first time.


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