Seeing the Mountaineer offense finally "execute" itself back into the win column with its victory over cellar-dwelling Cincinnati last Saturday at Mountaineer Field was a pleasant thing to watch. It also begs the question, "Which West Virginia offense will show up this Saturday at Louisville?
Sophomore signal-caller Geno Smith again showed flashes of what Mountaineer fans were hoping would be an every game occurrence, but when you look into the numbers, the first-year starter completed only 60 percent of his attempts (15-of-25) and his 174-yard total was far from eye-popping. Sure, he threw for four first-half touchdowns, but his second half performance was pedestrian.
Yes, senior Jock Sanders and sophomore Tavon Austin displayed their athletic talents on numerous occasions against the Bearcats, but there have been more than one occasion this season when one, or both, have been missing in action.
And, then there is that struggling running attack.
Sure the team amassed 245 yards on the ground, but it took 59 attempts (4.15 ypc). This is the same running attack that used to be ranked among the best in the country and now it doesn't even rank as the best in a very, very weak Big East.
It was nice to finally see Shawne Alston get some valuable work and display the power running that we had heard so much about when he was recruited to come to Morgantown. But, the struggles surrounding Noel Devine continue to plague the offense.
West Virginia's home run hitter has had to settle for singles the last several games and you couldn't help, but notice his frustration coming out on at least a couple of his 18 carries against the Cats.
Devine's 77-yard output allowed him to surpass Amos Zereoue and take over third place on WVU's all-time career rushing list, but the Florida-native is still more than 1,000 yards behind Avon Cobourne (5,164) and still needs 330 yards to overtake legendary quarterback Patrick White for second place on the list.
With only three contests left in his final regular season in Morgantown-on the road against Louisville and Pitt (Nov. 27) and home against Rutgers (Dec. 4)-as well as a bowl game, it doesn't appear likely that he will catch either. In fact he still needs 230 yards to crack the 1,000-yard barrier for the third straight year.
A number that appeared to be easy to reach when Devine elected to return for his final campaign, but now appears in danger because of a nagging toe injury and an offensive front which still lacks that consistency it needs to return WVU's rushing game back to the elite status it held under it's former coaching staff.
Yes, Saturday was-as Tony Caridi puts it-"A great day to be a Mountaineer". But, fans need to be very careful before they strain a hamstring jumping back on the Mountaineer bandwagon or drink that cup of purple kool-aid because history tells us that West Virginia it a less-than-impressive 7-9 on the road since its present staff took over.
Contact Jim Butta at email@example.com