MORGANTOWN-Team leader Jock Sanders gave his offense a C for its performance against Coastal Carolina, but looks for improvement Friday against Marshall (0-1).
Game time is 7 p.m. at "The Joan" in Huntington. It will be on ESPN.
"We knew it all along-what our offense can do. We just got to put things together. It was 31-0 against Coastal Carolina, which is good but turnovers ... we killed ourselves. Just knowing the caliber players we have--they can break it at any time-we just have to show it in games," said Sanders Monday night.
WVU put up 400 yards of offense behind Geno Smith's 216 yards of passing. Smith--starting his first opener--threw two touchdown passes and had one intercepted. The Mountaineers also fumbled twice and lost both.
"I wasn't pleased at all. I give our offense a C; our defense an A-plus. We had a lot of mistakes that could have been turned into points. We got down on the goal line, but couldn't score. We practiced for that all year and couldn't punch that in. I'd give us a C, C-minus," said Sanders.
In the next breath, No. 9, who rushed once for 31 yards and caught 8 passes for 71 yards and a score Saturday, explained he was unconcerned for Game 2. He said Smith bounced back in Monday's practice.
"He was mad about that interception (Saturday). He told us he missed a couple of reads and it was all on him. That's a real quarterback for you; a real leader steps up. He came back today. He was fired up. All his passes were there. It amped us up like an energy drink," Jock told reporters.
"I'm always trying to get guys going. I threw that interception. I didn't want that. But turnovers are part of the game. We'll try to correct that and move forward. We'll come out and execute this Friday," Smith said.
***** The sophomore did many things right.
Bill Stewart showed unbridled conference in his Miramar, Fla., quarterback by running what amounted to a two-minute drill down the field on the Mountaineers' opening drive. Here Geno carried two plays with him to the line and was allowed to pick one. He went 5-for-5 passing. The first TD excursion lasted 16 plays and amounted to 73 yards.
On fourth and goal from the Coastal four, Stew went for "six, not three." Smith found J.D. Woods in the end zone for Woods' first career TD catch.
Geno also found tight end Will Johnson for a 22-yard pass later. The ball looked like a "wounded duck," almost skipping to the turf before the senior corralled it.
"I asked Geno about that," said Johnson. "He said he saw the corner closing on my left, so he tried to get the ball down and to my right. It was a classy play."
All of this built confidence in the troops and the staff, according to Jock.
"Coach Stew believes in the offense more now. He's not antsy anymore. He's not antsy when the play is called. He knows we can make it happen. For him--trusting us to go for it on fourth down--he knows his team, he knows we can punch it in.
"It's up to us players to make it work. Each and every call--it's a good play--it's up to us. Or, we shoot ourselves in the foot. Every team wants big plays, but we were steady Saturday on long drives."
***** Sanders hosted an all-you-can-eat feed for his offensive linemen Monday night at his Morgantown residence.
"Hamburgers, chicken--the offensive line is coming to my house tonight. Everybody--all the linemen--I got to take care of 'em. They're taking care of us up front, so we gotta take care of them."