ACC: Jeff Casteel

Final: WVU 70, Clemson 33

January, 5, 2012

MIAMI -- West Virginia beat Clemson 70-33 in the Discover Orange Bowl on Wednesday night, putting up an NCAA record for points scored in a bowl game. Here is a quick instant analysis:

How the game was won: The second quarter. West Virginia went on a scoring blitz, thanks to its impressive and opportunistic defense. Darwin Cook got the spree started when he picked up an Andre Ellington fumble and returned it 99 yards -- the longest defensive score in school bowl history. It was the fourth defensive score of the year for the Mountaineers, the most since 2007. After that turnover, it was all downhill for the Tigers -- who turned the ball over a total of three times in the second quarter. West Virginia turned that into 21 points, and when halftime came the Mountaineers had outscored Clemson 35-3 in the period.

Turning point: That Cook fumble recovery changed everything. Clemson was down 21-17 and about to go in for the go-ahead score. Instead, Ellington fumbles and Clemson did not get a touchdown again until late in the third quarter. That one turnover brought Clemson's momentum to a halt and had a snowball effect. The Tigers simply could not get out of their own way.

Stat of the game: Hard to top the incredible bowl-record 70 points the Mountaineers scored. Consider this: West Virginia scored a TOTAL of 75 points in its final three games.

Player of the game: West Virginia receiver Tavon Austin. The best, most versatile player on the field, Austin finished with four receiving touchdowns, a career, Orange Bowl and BCS record. That also tied the record for all bowl games. He ran the ball, he caught the ball, he returned the ball to the tune of over 280 yards in yet another stunning display of his speed and escapability. Folks in the Big East knew all about his talents. Hopefully the entire nation knows as well.

Unsung hero of the game: West Virginia defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel. Clemson ran up and down his defense, scoring touchdowns on two big plays and taking a 17-14 lead after the first quarter. It appeared a shootout would be in order. But the Tigers scored 16 points the remainder of the game, and the defense created four turnovers -- including its third score in the past four games. Tajh Boyd and Sammy Watkins were completely shackled and ineffective after that opening period. Speculation has swirled about Casteel's future in Morgantown, so if this was indeed his last game with the Mountaineers, it was his best of the season.

What Clemson learned: It's not so easy being the ACC rep in a BCS game. The league moved to 2-13 in BCS bowls, including 0-2 this season. It's one thing for Virginia Tech to be the punching bag because it has represented the league so many times in BCS games, but no ACC team has ever been embarrassed this badly in a BCS game. It's one thing to lose. It's another to give up a bowl record for points scored. This is a young team, and will have every opportunity to bounce back from this loss. But it's going to be a stinging offseason.

What West Virginia learned: This team has one heck of a future in the Big 12. The Mountaineers showed they can score with the best of them, and their bowl record for points scored just surpassed the 67 points future conference partner Baylor put up in the Alamo Bowl against Washington. Geno Smith and nearly every skill player returns on offense, and Dana Holgorsen won 10 games in his first season as a head coach. It's also West Virginia's first 10-win season since 2007.

Record performance: Where to begin? You already saw the scoring record. Geno Smith had a career-high six touchdown passes, breaking an Orange Bowl and BCS record, held by USC quarterback Matt Leinart against Oklahoma in 2005. His 401 passing yards also set an Orange Bowl record, surpassing Michigan quarterback Tom Brady, who had 369 against Alabama in 2000.

Orange Bowl news and notes

December, 31, 2011
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Greetings from beautiful South Florida, where West Virginia and Clemson practiced for the second day in preparation for the Discover Orange Bowl.

Mountaineers defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel and select defensive players met with the media this morning, along with Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris and select offensive players.

The big story of the day, of course, were the injuries that keep mounting for West Virginia. Running back Dustin Garrison is out for the game, the third West Virginia starter to be declared out. On Casteel's side of the ball, West Virginia will be without safety Terence Garvin. Redshirt freshman Wes Tonkery and true freshman Shaq Petteway have been working the position during practice but no starter has been announced.

"We'll still work those two kids the next two or three practices, and they're both going to play," Casteel said. "That's what happens when you get an injury; a kid has to step up, and the next guy goes. I know that they're excited to play. We've been through those situations before, so those guys will be ready to go."

Eain Smith and Darwin Cook could be relied upon even more with Garvin out.

"I think the key is letting the kids get in and get settled in," Casteel said. "For some of these kids, obviously this is a big game for them. Once they get in and settle in, they're going to find it's no different than any of the other games that they've played.

"But our leaders will settle those guys down, and they'll be ready to play."

Playing with young players like Petteway and Tonkery is going to be something West Virginia will have to get through, the way it did when Garvin missed the Cincinnati game with a knee injury. Smith started in place of Garvin in that game, but the coaches don't seem to want to move him for this game.

Garvin was third on the team with 72 tackles. With the way Clemson likes to throw the ball, and the talent the Tigers have at the skill positions, they could take advantage.

"Will it change our thinking?" Morris asked. "We're going to do what we do. We've got to be able to be who we are, what got us to this point in the season. You know, we try to do a good job of mixing up the run and the pass. So are we going to change our thought process? No. And if we were, I couldn't tell you.

"So it's one of those type of deals. We feel like we've got to make sure that we do the things that got us here, protecting the football, being physical, playing physical and being aggressive. That's who we are, that's who I've been since 2002, and it's not going to change.

"You know, it's unfortunate. I heard the injury report, and that's unbelievable. I hate that for that young man. What a great football player. But again, we've got to do what's got us here to this point."

Both head coaches offered statements about the way practice, which was closed to the media, went Saturday afternoon:
  • Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said receiver DeAndre Hopkins practiced and is good to go for the game. "He’s back and it and looked fine," Swinney said. "Probably could’ve practiced yesterday, but we just wanted to have another day to evaluate him but I thought he moved around pretty good. Other than that, we’re physically in good shape, just have to mentally get dialed in."
  • West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen named his captains for the game: linebacker Najee Goode, center Joe Madsen, quarterback Geno Smith and cornerback Keith Tandy.
  • Former Mountaineers who were at practice Saturday were Grantis Bell (WR, 1985-88), Johnny Dingle (DL, 2005-07), Dale Williams (OL, 1991-93) and James “Puppy” Wright (LB, 1991-94).
  • Also in attendance at Saturday's practice was former Miami coach Randy Shannon and Florida Atlantic assistant Kurt VanValkenburgh.
  • “Practice went fine today," Holgorsen said. "We consider this our Tuesday practice so we were getting into our normal routine for the game week. The weather has been outstanding and I can see that our players are getting excited for game day. The player’s focus has been good, and they have been working hard. We are down here to win a football game, and I think our mix of preparation and fun has been good.”