Midseason report: West Virginia


Record: 5-1, 2-1 Big 12

It was all going so well. The Mountaineers had scaled the mountain, looking like the Big 12's best team and ready for the task of trying to stay there for the next six weeks.

That didn't take long. The first trip to Texas was fun. WVU left with a win over Texas and a top-five ranking. Trekking to Lubbock, though? Considerably less fun. West Virginia lost by five touchdowns and is now looking way up at two Big 12 teams in the polls with Texas Tech just one spot behind.

Geno Smith has been unbelievable to this point, with 25 touchdowns and zero interceptions, but he'll have to keep being on a Heisman pace every single game to outpace the Mountaineers' defensive issues.

West Virginia ranks 117th in total defense and is giving up 6.33 yards per play, good for 107th nationally. Stedman Bailey and Tavon Austin look likely to battle for the Biletnikoff Award all season long, but the defense still must figure out what's gone wrong and adjust to new coaches and a new scheme in a new league. Those three factors put West Virginia behind the eight ball a bit, but there's no time for excuses with Kansas State, TCU and Oklahoma State on the schedule in the next three weeks. All will test the WVU defense.

Offensive MVP: Geno Smith, QB. No contest here. Smith is the guy who makes it all run for the Mountaineers. He's thrown for 2,271 yards through just six games and leads the nation with 25 touchdown passes. He's also just one of four passers to start each game for his team and not throw an interception yet this season. Every other Big 12 quarterback still playing has at least two interceptions.

Defensive MVP: Isaiah Bruce, LB. No, I'm not just going to put "no one" on this list. Bruce has flown all over the place for WVU, leading the team by 14 with 57 tackles though six games. He earned Big 12 Player of the Week honors in Week 1, too. The freshman returned a fumble 43 yards for a touchdown and has five tackles for loss with half a sack and a pass breakup.