Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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October 15, 2012

Defensive shortfalls catch up with WVU

LUBBOCK, Texas — This time, West Virginia’s shoddy defense was too much for Geno Smith to overcome.

Smith directed the Moun-taineers’ prolific attack to shootout victories over Baylor and Texas, becoming a contender for the Heisman Trophy along the way and extending his team’s unbeaten run. But that terrific start ended Saturday when West Virginia was steamrolled by an unrelenting Texas Tech offense.

Seth Doege threw for a career-high 499 yards to lead the Red Raiders to a 49-14 victory. West Virginia gave up 676 total yards, and that’s its second-highest total this season.

“It was a poor performance defensively,” Mountaineers coach Dana Holgorsen said.

West Virginia (5-1, 2-1 Big 12) dropped 12 spots to No. 17 when The Associated Press Top 25 was released Sunday. No. 18 Texas Tech is ranked for the first time this year.

The Red Raiders (5-1, 2-1) jumped out to a 35-7 lead on Saturday, scoring on five of their seven first-half possessions.

Smith is ready to rebound.

“I hate to lose more than anything,” said Smith, who is still without an interception in 259 pass attempts. “But as a competitor I’ve got to understand this is the way it goes and you’ve got to bounce back from it.”

Next up for the Mountaineers is a home game against No. 4 Kansas State, the lone unbeaten Big 12 team. Texas Tech is at TCU (5-1, 2-1), which downed Baylor 49-21 Saturday.

Four schools are tied for second in the conference behind the Wildcats. Like the Red Raiders and the Mountaineers, No. 10 Oklahoma and TCU are 2-1 in Big 12 play.

Texas Tech’s offense hurt West Virginia in a variety of ways this weekend. Doege hit 11 different receivers while completing 32 of 42 passes. Texas Tech also found success on the ground with 168 yards on 29 carries.

The Red Raiders had 18 plays of 15 yards or more.

Amaro finished with five receptions for 156 yards.  

“It was definitely frustrating as a defense,” Mountaineers linebacker Isaiah Bruce said. “They connected on too many big plays, and it just wasn’t working out for us.”

West Virginia’s defense has struggled for weeks, but the Mountaineers kept winning because Smith was playing so well. In previous victories over Baylor and Texas, West Virginia yielded 108 points.

Smith couldn’t keep up Texas Tech’s impressive show.

“It’s just one of those games that everyone has,” said Smith, who was 29 of 55 for 275 yards. “I don’t think I played terribly terrible or awful. I just think I didn’t do enough within the game to get it done.”

Texas Tech defensive coordinator Art Kaufman, who has the Red Raiders ranked fourth in the nation in total defense after finishing near the bottom last season, said keeping Smith off balance was key.

“You know the big thing going against a really good quarterback, if they’ve got time, they can eat you up,” said Kaufman. “We didn’t get him on the ground, but we did get him to hurry and at least throw it away or do whatever he had to do to keep from throwing an interception.”

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