West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith prepares to fire down field against Cincinnati.
CINCINNATI - If there was one unit that most appreciated the game-saving blocked field goal by Eain Smith Saturday at Paul Brown Stadium, it was West Virginia's offensive line.
In the Mountaineers' 24-21 victory over Cincinnati, the line had, let's just call it, a bad day at the office.
WVU left tackle Don Barclay was whistled for a hands-to-the-face personal foul and a hold. Right tackle Pat Eger was called for a hold and a false start. Right guard Tyler Rader was hit with a false start.
The short-yardage rushing game was weak. The rushing game as a whole was weak. The Mountaineers managed but 32 rushing yards on 32 attempts. And then there were the sacks allowed. Cincinnati was able to get to WVU quarterback Geno Smith five times for losses totaling 27 yards.
Yet WVU celebrated, and the line breathed a sigh of relief.
"We didn't play up to our standards," said center Joe Madsen. "I know Coach [Dana] Holgorsen and we all know it. We really need to step it up. Me, personally, I think I played one of the worst games ever. I just need to get back in there and do what I do best."
"I think we struggled for a little bit," Barclay said. "They were bringing some pressure. We were picking it up sometimes; sometimes we weren't. We can get better. We had some penalties. We just have to bounce back from this against a good Pitt defense. We'll be at home. It will be a great game. But everything, I think, is fixable from today."
The Mountaineers host Pitt on Nov. 25. The work, though, said Madsen, begins today.
"It's a lot easier [when you win]," Madsen said, "but [today] is going to be a rough day. You've got to go in there and watch it. You just have to close your eyes and say, 'Yeah, I did that.' We'll get through it."
Barclay addressed the run-blocking problems.
"[The Bearcats] were moving a little bit on the line," said the 6-foot-4 senior. "They were doing some stunts. I guess we just didn't adapt to it. I mean, we knew a lot of the stuff they were going to bring. We just didn't execute sometimes."
He said the hope is the victory will help.
"We have some momentum now," said the tackle. "We got a bye week to get some guys over some bruises. We have to get ready for Pitt. It will be a big week."
Madsen said he did do one thing well on Saturday. He helped Smith block that field goal attempt. Well, sort of.
"It was one of those moments when in my head I thought I willed him to do that," said the junior. "In my head, I thought about it so hard we were going to block it, I was like, 'OK, that was me. I did that.'"
Madsen said he didn't know it was Smith that blocked the kick.
"I was literally almost in tears," he said of the play. "We had no idea who did it. We just started jumping around. We all blocked it."
Reach Mitch Vingle at 304-348-4827, firstname.lastname@example.org
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