Snap Judgments from Saturday’s early slate. For more from SI.com check out our midday and evening Snaps, plus our game coverage of Alabama-Michigan, Auburn-Clemson, Ohio-Penn State, South Carolina-Vanderbilt, Washington State-BYU, NC State-Tennessee and Boise State-Michigan State and our full Top 25 review.
• No. 11 West Virginia 69, Marshall 34. Minutes after wrecking Clemson in the Orange Bowl to conclude his first season as West Virginia’s head coach, Dana Holgorsen walked into his postgame press conference, looked around and declared, “Yeah, that’s exactly how we draw it up, right?”
He might have said much the same thing after the Mountaineers’ 2012 season opener. We’ve just seen the last version of the Friends of Coal Bowl for the foreseeable future, and WVU made it a memorable one. Holgorsen’s war machine wound down the afternoon in Morgantown with 655 yards of total offense, almost perfectly balanced — 331 rushing and 324 passing. This first stat was achieved without the presence of running back Dustin Garrison, who is still recovering from a December ACL injury. Shawne Alston led the ground attack for the Mountaineers, amassing 16 carries for 123 yards and two scores. Andrew Buie trailed with 80 rush yards and one touchdown (and one monstrous block), Tavon Austin with 67 yards and quarterback Geno Smith with 64 yards and a rushing score.
Through the air, Smith put on close to a perfect performance, completing 32-of-36 passes for 323 yards and four touchdowns. Backup Paul Millard got into the action late, throwing one touchdown and one interception. Stedman Bailey led the Mountaineers in receiving, with nine catches for 104 yards and two scores, followed by J.D. Woods, who caught seven passes for 75 yards and a score. Austin and KJ Myers hauled in additional touchdown grabs.
The defensive highlight of the afternoon came when linebacker Isaiah Bruce returned a fumble 43 yards for a score. Is it nonsensical to say this is the unit we’re most interested in tracking, development-wise? The Mountaineers’ offense is obviously potent, but these games will take a turn for the hair-raising once they get into conference play and face other formidable points generators. (Not that this will happen soon; the next scheduled opponents are James Madison and Maryland.) [RECAP | BOX]