WVU football: Defense left to answer for poor showing on offense
BALTIMORE - During one surreal sequence for West Virginia's offense in Saturday's loss to Maryland, the offense went four straight series without a first down.
Afterward, when no offensive players were made available to the media and defensive players were made to answer questions about the offense, nose guard Shaq Rowell came close to a three-and-out of his own.
In reply to the first three questions posed to him, the senior said, "We lost on all three sides of the ball - offense, defense and special teams."
He cracked on the fourth question and then bubbled over after the 37-0 defeat.
"Sorry I keep saying that, but we really did," Rowell said. "We beat this team seven times in a row. They came out (Saturday) ready to play. They whipped our ass. Period. Point blank. We didn't put a point on the board. It's a disgrace to West Virginia, the 1.8 million people. That will never happen again for as long as I'm here."
The Mountaineers, who lost by a larger margin in a 55-14 loss to Kansas State last season, hadn't been on the wrong side of a worse shutout since a 39-0 loss to Penn State in 1975. The last shutout loss was in 2001, a 35-0 loss to Virginia Tech.
"They hit a speed bump," Rowell said of the offense. "We're going to get better next week. That will never happen again as long as I'm here. We'll never get goose egged again. I guarantee that."
The Terrapins hadn't beaten WVU since the 2004 Gator Bowl.
"Maryland's going to be talking (stuff) for a year," Rowell said. "It's 365 days until we play again. But they deserve it. They beat the hell out of us - 37-0. They hadn't beaten us in a decade. I'm embarrassed. I'm being real with you. I'm embarrassed. All three sides of the ball, we got our ass kicked. That's never going to happen again when I'm here."
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WVU STARTED the game win an 11-yard run and had one first down the rest of the half. The Mountaineers closed the half with four consecutive three-and-outs in between a pair of Ford Childress interceptions. Following their second first down of the half, WVU had 20 snaps for 17 yards.
The Mountaineers finished the game with six first downs. The last time WVU had fewer than the 47 snaps against Maryland, Athletic Director Oliver Luck was a senior in high school and the Mountaineers managed just 40 in a 1977 loss to Boston College.
"Offensively, we were as inept as you can possibly be in college football," WVU Coach Dana Holgorsen said. "I accept responsibility for that."
The Mountaineers now have the distinct pleasure of playing host to No. 11 Oklahoma State at noon Saturday on ESPN. The Cowboys, who were the preseason conference favorite, were off last week.
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FORMER WVU RECEIVER Deon Long, who enrolled in January 2010 but never played for the Mountaineers, caught six passes for 98 yards Saturday. He's in his first season with the Terrapins after playing at New Mexico State in 2011 and Iowa Western Community College last year, when he caught 25 touchdown passes and set the all-time junior college record with 100 receptions.
The Mountaineers placed restrictions on Long's transfer in 2010 and Maryland was one school they blocked.
Coach Randy Edsall, who is now 2-9 against the Mountaineers as the UConn and Maryland coach, said Long was the happiest player in the locker room after the win.
"I tried to keep him calm all week long, and he'll be the first to say it wasn't about him or anything like that," Edsall said. "Last week, he was on me about going back to Connecticut, so I was on him this week. I just told him, 'Hey, you don't have anything to prove to anybody. Just go out there and play your game.'"
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THE TERRAPINS had just 330 yards of offense, well below the 554.7 yards they averaged in a 3-0 start that ranked No. 10 nationally. WVU had won 12 straight games when allowing 330 or fewer yards, dating back to Edsall and UConn's first win against the Mountaineers in 2010. The Huskies had 278 yards in the overtime victory.
"We're far from a suffocating defense, but I do think we competed," Holgorsen said.
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WVU INSIDE linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski, who led the team in tackles in each of the first three games, left with an undisclosed injury in the second quarter and did not return. He finished with 11/2 tackles.
Outside linebacker Brandon Golson had a leg injury in the second quarter that looked worse than it was. Defensive end Will Clarke rolled into Golson's leg and a contorted Golson collapsed in pain atop Clarke and Maryland quarterback C.J. Brown.
Golson returned in the second half.
"I was shocked he came back because it did look bad," defensive coordinator Keith Patterson said. "We lost Kwiatkoski and Golson for a while and I was trying to see who we had to go out there for different sub packages. That was a little bit of an issue, but we finally settled down in the second half. I thought the kids had no quit."
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MARYLAND SCORED 28 points off WVU's six turnovers. The Mountaineers hadn't had six turnovers in a game since a loss at USF in 2007.
Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at email@example.com or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/wvu.