WVU football: Quarterback dismisses wind as factor in upset
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- Maybe it was nothing, but the wind Saturday at Texas Tech's Jones AT&T Stadium was worth discussing after the Red Raiders beat West Virginia, 49-14.
WVU quarterback Geno Smith had 26 incomplete passes, 15 fewer than he had in the first five games, and a few were affected by the wind that was 18 miles per hour at kickoff and gusted above 30 mph during the game. Some throws ended up short while others moved out of the path of a receiver.
"We got receivers open downfield," said Mountaineers Coach Dana Holgorsen, who was a Texas Tech assistant from 2000-07. "Geno let the wind affect him. I've played around here for eight years and it wasn't any windier (Saturday). It's a nuisance, but if you let that be an excuse, it's going to mess with you and I think it did."
Smith dismissed the wind as a factor after the game.
"The wind didn't bother me," Smith said. "Anyone who says that obviously doesn't know football."
Texas Tech (5-1, 2-1 Big 12) wanted to cover WVU's short and intermediate throws and basically dared WVU to go over top the defense.
"That ball kind of fizzles in the wind on deep balls," Red Raiders Coach Tommy Tuberville said. "Talking to Dana before (the game), we haven't practiced in much wind. It hasn't been very windy the last couple of weeks here before practice.
"He said they've had a lot of wind and that made me not feel very good that they had practiced in the wind. I was hoping it would be an advantage."
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HOLGORSEN HAD A good feeling before last week's win at Texas. He said he had to beg his players to come off the field in pre-game warmups and return to the locker room for the last round of instructions and reminders. The energy on the sideline during the game matched or exceeded that which was in the stands or on the opposite sideline.
Things were different against the Red Raiders.
"It was the intensity with which we took the field," defensive coordinator Joe DeForest said. "We were flat going in, which was amazing. The energy we needed to take the field and be jacked up, I don't think we had that."
The Red Raiders had lost their last five home games against Big 12 Conference teams, hadn't beaten any current member of the Big 12 at home since 2009 and hadn't beaten a ranked Big 12 team at home since 2008. They ended up with their largest margin of victory ever against a top-five team while WVU (5-1, 2-1) had its worst loss since a 45-3 loss to Miami in 2001.
"It was huge," said Tech's Cody Davis, who had 13 solo tackles. "They come in really cocky, just kind of on the high road, so to get up on them fast is big in games like this. You kind of show them we're serious and get a jump on them and get the momentum on our side and our stadium."
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WVU DROPPED to No. 17 in the Associated Press Poll Sunday. The loss prevented the third matchup between top-10 teams ever in Morgantown and the first since 1993. The Mountaineers play host to No. 4 Kansas State (6-0, 3-0) at 7 p.m. on Fox Saturday.
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WVU'S DEFENSE allowed 10 more plays of 20 yards or more, raising the season total to 39. The Mountaineers had never allowed an opponent 600 yards before this season. It has happened twice already and both in the past three games.
"They didn't do anything we hadn't practiced," DeForest said. "They did what we did in practice several times. They just executed it better than we did."
Included Saturday was a 53-yard touchdown late in the second quarter when running back SaDale Foster ran up the middle, bounced outside, reached the sideline and then outran six defenders to the end zone.
The Red Raiders finished with 686 yards and averaged 9.5 yards per play.
"I don't know what else to say other than we've got to go back to the drawing board," DeForest said. "We're not going to give up on what we've been building on. We've got to continue to build on some positive things."
WVU played without starting defensive end Will Clarke. Freshman Eric Kinsey started in his place and redshirt freshman Kyle Rose shared snaps. The Mountaineers also lost cornerback Brodrick Jenkins and linebacker Isaiah Bruce, who said he had a hip pointer, during the game.
DeForest also pulled cornerback Pat Miller from the game for the second time in three weeks, though only briefly. Miller's replacement, freshman Rick Rumph, allowed a 2-yard touchdown pass. Rumph later replaced the injured Jenkins.
The Mountaineers rank No. 118 out of 120 teams in pass defense, No. 119 in pass efficiency defense, No. 114 in total defense and No. 109 in scoring defense. Texas Tech quarterback Seth Doege, who passed for 499 yards and six touchdowns, said he "knew there was an opportunity to throw the football" against WVU.
"When you don't have a pass rush, it's a lot easier to sit back there and take your time going through your reads, identifying safeties and what the defense is trying to do," he said.
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WVU FORCED two turnovers against Texas Tech. Karl Joseph had an interception in the first quarter that looked like a key play at the time as it came in the red zone with WVU trailing 14-7. Fellow freshman safety K.J. Dillon forced a fumble in the third quarter with the Mountaineers down 35-7.
"It was a poor performance defensively, but we played better defensively in the second half and gave them no hope on offense," Holgorsen said.
WVU managed no points off the turnovers and hasn't scored on the past four turnovers forced by the defense.
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WVU ANNOUNCED Friday it had revised Athletic Director Oliver Luck's contract. Luck's new contract runs through 2017 and pays a base salary of $550,000 with annual incentives capped at an additional $150,000.
The contract includes periodic retention incentives where Luck receives a bonus for remaining in his position. Those could total $525,000 if he fulfills the length of the contract.
"I think we've formed a great team and I know I've said this before: It doesn't matter if I'm hiring a dean, a vice president, a provost or an athletic director, I want to hire superstars and other universities are going to want to come after them," WVU President Jim Clements said. "Oliver has done an incredible job across the board, so we wanted to lock him down a couple more years and adjust his salary."
His latest superstar on board, Clements nevertheless chose not to include a buyout in the contract. Clements told the Charleston Daily Mail that was considered.
"I thought about it, but it's not common in college athletics," Clements said. "There are schools that do it, but when you talk about A.D. salaries and you talk about football coach and basketball coach salaries, theirs are much, much, much higher. If we put in a clause and somebody comes after Oliver, they're going to come after Oliver. It's not going to stop them."
Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at email@example.com or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs/dailymail.com/wvu.