WVU Sports with Tom Bragg

West Virginia quarterback Will Grier and wide receiver David Sills V were prolific this year.

The duo combined for 18 touchdowns and nearly 1,000 yards of offense.

They both announced that they will stay in Morgantown for their senior seasons, both taking another year of experience at the collegiate level instead of an early attempt at the NFL.

With both returning for 2018, Mountaineer Nation is a buzz at the possibilities of what the two can do next year. And after what we saw this year, who can blame them?

Grier and Sills have been a great combination so far, but here are some former WVU QB/WR duos to show how good they’ve been.

Grier and Sills

2017 season – 10+ games

  • Completions: 60
  • Yards: 980
  • Touchdowns: 18
  • 20+ yard plays: 14 (6 for touchdowns)
  • 100+ receiving yard games: 4
  • Multi-touchdown games: 7

Notes: Over half of Grier’s 34 touchdown passes were thrown to Sills.  Sills had the second-most touchdown receptions, fifth-most points for non-kickers, and ninth-most catches for a single season in WVU history this year.

Geno Smith and Tavon Austin

2010 – 2012 Seasons – 39 games

  • Completions: 273
  • Receiving Yards: 3,262
  • Receiving TDs: 28
  • 100+ receiving yard games: 13
  • Multi-touchdown games: 6

Note:  Tavon set and then re-set the all-purpose yards record in 2011 and 2012

Geno and Stedman Bailey

2011 – 2012 Seasons – 26 games

  • Completions: 186
  • Receiving Yards: 2,901
  • Receiving TDs: 37
  • 100+ receiving yard games: 14
  • Multi-touchdown games: 9

Notes: Stedman set the receiving yards (1,622) and receiving touchdowns (25) single-season record in 2012. He also set the scoring record for non-kickers in 2012, tallying 150 points.

Austin and Bailey tied to set the school mark for receptions (114) in 2012.

Smith set and then re-set the school record for total offense in 2011 and 2012. He set the passing yards mark in ’11. The following year, he set the completions and touchdown passes record, with Austin and Bailey being major contributors.

Marc Bulger and Shawn Foreman

1997 – 1998 Seasons – 24 games

  • Completions: 140
  • Receiving yards: 1,876
  • Receiving touchdowns: 13
  • 100+ receiving yard games: 6
  • Multi-touchdown games: 2

Notes: Bulger set the then-record for passing yards (3,607) in a season in 1998. That season he also set the school mark for completions. Foreman’s 945 receiving yards that season was the second-most in WVU history at the time. His 77 catches the year prior was also the school record.

Happy Esa Ahmad Is Back Day.

The forward will be in the lineup when West Virginia visits Texas Tech this afternoon. (Whether he starts or not is a secret Bob Huggins is apparently taking up to game time.) But his return will be a big boost to the No. 2 Mountaineers’ lineup.

How big? And how much does that mean for WVU’s next five games, a march through fire that, if the Mountaineers can win them all, should cement them as the top team in the country. Here’s the list: at No. 8 Texas Tech, at home versus No. 12 Kansas and Texas, at No. 16 TCU and at home against No. 21 Kentucky.

Ahmad didn’t face Kentucky last year, but here’s how he did against the other four teams:

Texas Tech — 2 games, 9.5 ppg, 4.0 rpg

Kansas — 2 games, 23.5 ppg, 6.0 rpg

Texas — 2 games, 3.5 ppg, 4.5 rpg

TCU — 1 game, 16 pts, 5 rebs

Long story short, Ahmad is a Kansas-killer. And that’s who the Mountaineers face Monday. It may take some time for him to get his game legs under him, but any Ahmad is better than no Ahmad.

 

An update on departing WVU football players

With the spring semester at hand, there have been a couple of early departures from the WVU football roster. Nothing earth-shattering, but here’s what we know for sure from comparing the 2017 and 2018 roster lists:

Jalen Harvey, DL — Would have been a redshirt senior in 2018. Came to WVU from Northwest Mississippi CC this past season, played in five games and recorded five tackles.

Ray Raulerson, OL — Would have been a redshirt senior in 2018. Transferred from Tennessee after the 2015 season and sat out 2016 for NCAA transfer requirements. Played in one game in 2017 as the backup to Matt Jones at center.

Ricky Rogers, WR — Would have been a redshirt senior in 2018. Saw limited action in his three seasons on the active roster. Caught one pass for 26 yards while playing in eight games in 2017.

Alec Shriner, OL — Would have been a redshirt junior in 2018. Moved from defensive line in 2016 to offensive line in 2017. Was named the offensive scout team champion for the Iowa State game, but did not see game action this past season.

Those are the names we know are gone by comparing the two rosters. Others may follow (some reports have K/P Jonn Young on the way out, but his name remained on the 2018 roster as of Friday afternoon) , so we’ll keep you posted if that happens.

Joe Lunardi really, really likes WVU basketball

The latest edition of Bracketology was released Thursday by longtime ESPN bracket analyst Joe Lunardi. The man known as “Joey Brackets” has been pretty high on WVU since December, slotting the Mountaineers as at least a No. 3 seed, and as a No. 2 seed for the most part. Then came Thursday, where WVU found themselves as one of Lunardi’s No. 1 seeds.

West Virginia, as of this week, is Lunardi’s No. 1 seed in the South, joining East No. 1 Villanova, West No. 1 Michigan State and Midwest No. 1 Virginia. That’s not a surprising place for a Mountaineer team ranked No. 2 in both the writers and coaches top 25 polls. Whether they fall from that perch or cement themselves in the overall top four will hinge very much on WVU’s next five games.

Frankly, it’s Murderer’s Row.

In the next five contests, WVU visits No. 8 Texas Tech, hosts No. 12 Kansas, hosts Texas, visits No. 16 TCU and hosts No. 21 Kentucky in the Big 12/SEC Challenge. Could there be a tougher streak in the country? One would be hard-pressed to find it.

If West Virginia can go 5-0 in that stretch, well, it should be considered the nation’s No. 1 team, hands down. Go 4-1 and West Virginia should stay on the No. 1 line. A 3-2 result, depending on who the two losses come against, shouldn’t let the Mountaineers fall very far. Anything less, and West Virginia is probably bouncing between the No. 2 and No. 3 lines for the rest of the season, barring a win in the Big 12 tournament title game.

So what says the WVU fan base? Do the Mountaineers have what it takes to remain a No. 1?

BOX SCORE: No. 6 WVU 77, Kansas State 69

West Virginia 31 46 77 13-1 (2-0)
Kansas State 26 43 69 11-3 (1-1)

West Virginia 77

West Virginia 77
## Player GS FGM-FGA 3FGM-3FGA FTM-FTA OFF-DEF TOT PF TP A TO BLK STL MIN
15 West, Lamont * 7-10 2-4 3-4 4-1 5 2 19 1 3 0 0 30
4 Miles Jr., Daxter * 4-8 0-2 2-2 1-1 2 3 10 7 4 0 3 27
50 Konate, Sagaba * 4-4 0-0 0-0 0-5 5 4 8 1 2 2 0 18
2 Carter, Jevon * 1-7 0-2 1-2 1-7 8 2 3 10 3 1 3 37
21 Harris, Wesley * 1-3 0-2 1-1 1-3 4 5 3 0 0 0 1 30
13 Allen, Teddy 8-12 0-0 6-7 1-2 3 1 22 1 3 0 2 19
3 Bolden, James 4-9 2-6 0-0 0-5 5 2 10 0 2 0 0 17
25 Bender, Maciej 1-2 0-0 0-0 1-3 4 4 2 0 1 1 1 11
14 Harler, Chase 0-1 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 2 0 1 0 0 0 11
TM TEAM 0-0 0-0 0-0 0-2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Totals 30-56 4-16 13-16 9-29 38 25 77 21 18 4 10 200
Team Total % 53.6 % 25.0 % 81.3 %
Team summary: FG 3FG FT
First Half 15-29 1-6 0-1
51.72 % 16.67 % 0.00 %
Second Half 15-27 3-10 13-15
55.56 % 30.00 % 86.67 %
Technical Fouls:
none
Points in the Paint:
40
Points off Turnovers:
17
Second Chance Points:
11
Fast Break Points:
12
Bench Points:
34
Scores Tied:
0 time(s)
Lead Changed:
2 time(s)
Largest Lead:
11 2nd-00:37

Kansas State 69

Kansas State 69
## Player GS FGM-FGA 3FGM-3FGA FTM-FTA OFF-DEF TOT PF TP A TO BLK STL MIN
20 SNEED, Xavier * 6-11 6-9 2-2 1-5 6 1 20 3 0 0 1 34
32 WADE, Dean * 5-8 0-0 7-9 4-6 10 2 17 1 4 2 2 38
5 BROWN, Barry * 5-13 2-6 2-4 0-0 0 2 14 2 7 0 3 35
3 STOKES, Kamau * 0-10 0-7 6-7 0-1 1 1 6 6 2 0 2 38
14 MAWIEN, Makol * 0-2 0-0 1-2 0-1 1 0 1 0 1 0 0 11
2 DIARRA, Cartier 2-4 1-1 1-1 0-0 0 4 6 0 1 0 0 14
11 PATRICK, Brian 1-2 1-2 0-0 1-0 1 3 3 1 0 0 1 8
34 STOCKARD III, Levi 1-4 0-0 0-0 3-3 6 4 2 0 0 0 0 12
23 WAINRIGHT, Amaad 0-2 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 10
TM TEAM 0-0 0-0 0-0 1-1 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Totals 20-56 10-26 19-25 10-17 27 19 69 13 15 2 9 200
Team Total % 35.7 % 38.5 % 76.0 %
Team summary: FG 3FG FT
First Half 8-29 4-12 6-9
27.59 % 33.33 % 66.67 %
Second Half 12-27 6-14 13-16
44.44 % 42.86 % 81.25 %
Technical Fouls:
none
Points in the Paint:
18
Points off Turnovers:
25
Second Chance Points:
6
Fast Break Points:
5
Bench Points:
11
Scores Tied:
1 time(s)
Lead Changed:
1 time(s)
Largest Lead:
3 1st-19:37

BOX SCORE: No. 7 WVU 85, Oklahoma State 79

Box score from OSUsports.com.
Team 1 2 Total Records
West Virginia 39 46 85 12-1, 1-0 Big 12
Oklahoma State 46 33 79 10-3, 0-1 Big 12
ATTENDANCE: 8257
SITE: Gallagher-Iba Arena (Stillwater, Okla.)
REFEREES: Doug Sirmons, Roger Ayers, Bert Smith
NOTES: Fouled Out: OSU #41-Solomon (3:11) WVU #15-West (0:33)

West Virginia 85

West Virginia 85
## Player GS FGM-FGA 3FGM-3FGA FTM-FTA OFF-DEF TOT PF TP A TO BLK STL MIN
50 Konate, Sagaba * 4-6 0-0 5-6 3-6 9 4 13 0 1 1 0 22
2 Carter, Jevon * 2-10 2-5 6-6 1-3 4 2 12 7 8 1 5 38
4 Miles Jr., Daxter * 4-7 2-5 2-3 1-1 2 2 12 5 1 0 2 37
15 West, Lamont * 3-6 1-4 4-4 1-3 4 5 11 1 3 0 1 25
21 Harris, Wesley * 1-6 1-4 6-8 4-2 6 4 9 1 5 0 1 27
13 Allen, Teddy 7-11 0-0 1-1 0-2 2 4 15 1 0 0 1 16
3 Bolden, James 3-7 2-4 2-2 0-0 0 3 10 0 0 0 1 11
25 Bender, Maciej 1-3 0-0 1-2 3-2 5 3 3 0 0 0 0 17
14 Harler, Chase 0-1 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6
31 Routt, Logan 0-0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
TM TEAM 0-0 0-0 0-0 3-0 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
TOTALS 25-57 8-22 27-32 16-19 35 27 85 15 18 2 11 200
TEAM TOTAL % 43.9 % 36.4 % 84.4 %
TEAM SUMMARY: FG 3FG FT
FIRST HALF 12-32 7-14 8-11
37.50 % 50.00 % 72.73 %
SECOND HALF 13-25 1-8 19-21
52.00 % 12.50 % 90.48 %
TECHNICAL FOULS:
none
POINTS IN THE PAINT:
28
POINTS OFF TURNOVERS:
25
SECOND CHANCE POINTS:
19
FAST BREAK POINTS:
5
BENCH POINTS:
28
SCORES TIED:
3 time(s)
LEAD CHANGED:
3 time(s)
LARGEST LEAD:
9 2nd-03:11

Oklahoma State 79

Oklahoma State 79
## Player GS FGM-FGA 3FGM-3FGA FTM-FTA OFF-DEF TOT PF TP A TO BLK STL MIN
5 Shine, Tavarius * 7-11 1-4 2-4 4-1 5 2 17 4 3 0 1 32
30 Carroll, Jeffrey * 5-12 2-5 5-10 2-3 5 0 17 1 1 1 4 32
21 Waters, Lindy * 2-6 2-4 7-8 0-5 5 4 13 2 6 0 4 29
41 Solomon, Mitchell * 3-4 1-1 2-2 4-4 8 5 9 0 2 2 0 24
1 Smith, Kendall * 3-8 0-2 1-2 0-1 1 1 7 2 4 0 1 33
0 Averette, Brandon 1-3 0-1 4-6 0-2 2 1 6 0 2 0 1 23
35 Sima, Yankuba 3-3 0-0 0-0 0-1 1 3 6 0 1 0 0 8
12 McGriff, Cameron 0-0 0-0 4-4 1-1 2 4 4 0 0 0 0 18
4 Dziagwa, Thomas 0-0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 1 0 0 2 0 0 1
TM TEAM 0-0 0-0 0-0 0-3 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
TOTALS 24-47 6-17 25-36 11-21 32 21 79 9 21 3 11 200
TEAM TOTAL % 51.1 % 35.3 % 69.4 %
TEAM SUMMARY: FG 3FG FT
FIRST HALF 14-22 4-8 14-17
63.64 % 50.00 % 82.35 %
SECOND HALF 10-25 2-9 11-19
40.00 % 22.22 % 57.89 %
TECHNICAL FOULS:
none
POINTS IN THE PAINT:
32
POINTS OFF TURNOVERS:
16
SECOND CHANCE POINTS:
11
FAST BREAK POINTS:
19
BENCH POINTS:
16
SCORES TIED:
1 time(s)
LEAD CHANGED:
3 time(s)
LARGEST LEAD:
9 1st-10:08

Utah and WVU clash today in the Heart of Dallas Bowl. It’s actually a rematch, albeit one from more than five decades ago.

The two teams have met just once before – Dec. 19, 1964, at the Liberty Bowl inside the Atlantic City Convention Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Utah won the game easily, 32-6, and Mountaineer fans that were alive to see it have been asking for a rematch ever since. OK, maybe not, but 53 years later, the rematch will happen.

The First (and only) meeting

Neither offense had much going in the first quarter, but Utah opened up a big lead in the second, taking a 19-0 advantage into the locker room.

West Virginia didn’t get off to any better start in the second half, allowing a 47-yard touchdown run to Andy Ireland, giving the Utes a 25-point lead.

WVU’s only touchdown of the game came on a 15-yard pitch and catch between Allen McCune and Milt Clegg late in the third quarter. But another long score in the fourth quarter sealed the 32-6 victory for Utah.

The game was the first major college football bowl game played indoors, and the only one ever played in Atlantic City.

When that game was played Lyndon B. Johnson was in his first term as president, and three countries – Malawi, Malta, and Zambia – had just gained their independence from the United Kingdom.

Hawaii and Alaska had only been states for five years, and the WVU Coliseum, Milan Puskar Stadium and the campus’s Personal Rapid Transit system had yet to be built.

The year of 1964 was a star-studded year for birthdays, with the likes of Russell Crowe, Rob Lowe, Michelle Obama, Nicolas Cage, Courtney Cox and Stephen Colbert all being born that year.

Leading up to the second meeting

Since the two teams met, West Virginia has appeared in 30 bowl games, winning twelve of them. Over that same time period, Utah has accepted invitations to 18 bowls, and walked away victorious from fourteen of them, including each of the last four.

This year the Mountaineers were just one-game better during the regular season but fared much better against conference foes.

Utah, which started the season 4-0, lost each of its next four games, including two by at least 20 points.

Meanwhile, West Virginia got off to a 3-1 start and stayed above .500 with a comeback-victory over then-No. 24 Texas Tech. However, the Mountaineers were just 2-3 over their final five contests, with two of the three losses coming at home.

Of course, the biggest loss was quarterback Will Grier. With Grier leading the way, The Mountaineers were the far-superior passing team this season, though the two universities were nearly identical when it came to running the football. WVU, however, will be without Justin Crawford, who is skipping the bowl to prepare for the NFL draft.

The Utes were much stingier on defense, giving up nearly 100 yards fewer per game on the ground than the Mountaineers. Utah ranks 32nd in the nation in terms of total defense.

On Thursday, the West Virginia football announced a pair of statements:

Quarterback Will Grier is returning to the Mountaineers for his senior season in 2018, and running back Justin Crawford will not play in the Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl against Utah later this month.

The first assures that an experienced quarterback will be leading the WVU offense next season, while the second means we’ll have a good idea of the talent that will be around him.

Although the bowl game would’ve served as one final game for senior running back Justin Crawford to put his talents on display, it now gives a glimpse at what the backfield will operate like next year without him.

Crawford battled a nagging injury during the middle part of the season, part of what contributed to him being held under 50 rushing yards for three straight games, but still managed to be one of just three Big 12 rushers to eclipse 1,000 yards on the ground this year.

He surpassed that mark in each of his two seasons in Morgantown.

Behind – or, now, replacing – Crawford is a pair of Mountaineer backs with experience and another that hasn’t gotten much action, though it can be anticipated that will change against Utah and next year.

Leading the way is sophomore Kennedy McKoy, who ran for a career-high 137 yards the last time West Virginia was on the field against Oklahoma. McKoy did a lot of his damage out of the wildcat formation, which is expected to be used again against the Utes.

Both Crawford and McKoy averaged over five yards per carry this season.

Behind McKoy is fellow sophomore Martell Pettaway, who had his coming out party two seasons ago against Iowa State when he rushed for 181 yards against the Cyclones on the same day his redshirt was burned.

Getting a very limited number of carries, Pettaway didn’t reach that total in all 10 games combined this season, but without Crawford will surely see more action and garner a bigger role.

Freshman Tevin Bush is the other back that will likely touch the football a few times in the Mountaineers’ final game of 2017.

Bush, who tallied just a total of 81 yards on 20 carries, was said before the season to be a back that can be a threat both running and catching the football. Although that wasn’t fully put on display this year, it’s something to watch out for against the Utes.

The potential mixture of three backs, all of whom are different in style, will be key against a Utah defense that was third-best in the PAC-12 at defending against the run.

The Utes had four defensive performances in which they held the opposition to under 100 yards as a team. Six times this season Utah’s defense held opposing offenses under four yards per run.

West Virginia takes on Utah on Tuesday, Dec. 26 at 2 p.m. in the Cotton Bowl. It’s just the second meeting between the two programs.

 

BLOG: Jevon Carter continues to climb the WVU ranks

West Virginia point guard Jevon Carter is off to a great start to the season, not only leading the Mountaineers in multiple statistical categories but being near the top of the Big 12 in those categories, as well.

Carter, in his final season playing for Bob Huggins before turning his attention to the next level, recently took over as the all-time leader in steals in West Virginia history.

Although Carter likely won’t top the WVU record books in any other statistic, he will finish his career as one of the best guards to ever put on the Mountaineer uniform, statistically.

With the senior point guard helping lead the way, West Virginia is atop the Big 12 in five categories, including steals, rebounds, and offensive rebounds. When looking at the conference, Carter is fifth in Big 12 history in steals (256) all-time. This season, he’s second in scoring (19.4 ppg), fifth in free throw percentage (89.8 percent) and fifth in assists (60).

Changing focus back to Morgantown, Carter continues to crack various Mountaineer career top-10 lists.

His 190 3-pointers is seventh in school history, though is just 10 3-pointers out of fifth. He will likely finish the season in fourth place behind Alex Ruoff, Kevin Pittsnogle and Patrick Beilein. In Saturday’s game against Pittsburgh, Carter passed Joe Mazzulla for 13th on the career assists list, and he’ll easily finish inside the top 10, possibly as high as sixth all-time.

Defensively, the steals record he sets when the season is done may be untouchable. Carter’s value to the team continues to be put on display with each game, at times it’s even more evident when he not on the court, like fans saw Saturday against the Panthers.

It’s clear as day. Rivalries are what make college sports great.

Not “rivalries” formed over several hundred, if not a thousand, miles away. But those formed and fought right in your backyard.

Saturday evening, the West Virginia and Pittsburgh men’s basketball teams met on the hardcourt for the first time since 2012, ending the longest drought in the Backyard Brawl’s history since the two teams didn’t meet between 1908 and 1914.

WVU was heavily favored and jumped out to a 20-point lead in the first half. But as often happens in rivalry games, big leads evaporate.

The Mountaineers were able to hold off the Panthers, winning 69-60, despite foul trouble and the second-half comeback getting the home fans back into it.

More importantly than the final score, though, the game was another piece of evidence of what is lacking overall in college athletics.

Likely due to the long layoff between matchups, Saturday’s game wasn’t played in front of a packed house like it normally was when the two got together twice a year. Nor was the crowd as big as it might be next year when the game is played in Morgantown.

The Petersen Events Center was only 62 percent full and may have been made up by more WVU fans than Pitt supporters.

But the feeling in the air was there; reminiscent of the opening game of the football season when West Virginia played former rival Virginia Tech on the gridiron, just on a smaller scale.

Both games are evidence that rivalries need to return and stay.

Thank goodness for Mountaineer and Panther basketball fans that they get three more shots at this between now and the end of the currently agreed upon series that runs through the 2020-2021 season.

Even better, the series on the hardcourt leads into a four-game set on the football field that starts in 2022.

Maybe by then something will have changed. Maybe by then the importance of these rivalry games that we took for granted when they were a yearly or twice-a-year occurrence will be too much to ignore.

Commend those responsible for getting these two old foes back together for the time being.

Other conferences can keep their Iron Bowls, Red River Rivalries and notable rivalries, the good people of West Virginia and western Pennsylvania will take the Backyard Brawl any day of the week.