Let’s take a look at some offensive helmet stickers after Saturday’s 52-17 dismissal of Youngstown State.
1. West Virginia’s running back corps: After two reviews of Saturday night’s contest against the Penguins, I simply can’t decide who among the Mountaineer ball-carriers was most deserving of acclaim. The reality is that Saturday was a showcase for WVU’s ground game and every one of Marquell Blackwell’s guys chipped in with highlight-worthy plays. Both Leddie Brown and Alec Sinfield scored their first collegiate touchdowns; Brown also posted his first 100-yard rushing game, just two games into his true freshman season. Martell Pettaway continued to bull his way forward for big gains, too, and Kennedy McKoy flashed his versatility again after being notably absent for a good portion of the Tennessee game.
All In all, three of West Virginia’s four running backs went for over 70 yards, and the unit as a whole came up just short of 300 yards on the ground. Going forward, West Virginia fans should absolutely want to see more performances like this. A run game this varied and consistent, coupled with a dynamic passing attack, makes West Virginia’s offensive machine practically unstoppable. The rest of the Big 12 has officially been put on notice.
2. Gary Jennings, WR: Two games into the 2018 season, it looks like the West Virginia passing attack is going to justify all the preseason hype. Gary Jennings in particular is on pace to blow past his 2017 numbers, which is great news for several reasons. A year removed from only visiting the end zone on a single occasion, the Virginia native has already hauled in four TD receptions and doesn’t appear likely to stop at any point soon. Jennings’ touchdown hat trick was only slightly less impressive than his 16.2 YPC average. Mr. Big Play, indeed.
As David Sills and the rest of the receiving corps continue to produce, this West Virginia offense will only become only more problematic for secondaries looking to slow down this very lethal air raid attack. There’s very likely another Biletnikoff-level player on this offense and it might not be David Sills. Just saying.
3. Marcus Simms, WR: While part of me wanted to hand the final helmet sticker to Dominique Maiden for finally having his “welcome home” moment, it’s hard to look past the 8-catch, 119-yard game that Simms put together. The Sherwood high alum didn’t get in the end zone, but he still recorded a ridiculous contested catch down the left sideline that highlighted both his natural talent and his growth as a player. The game-breaking speed has always been there, but Simms appears to have devloped into a more well-rounded receiver whose game goes deeper than merely serving as the team’s resident deep threat. Will Grier can sleep soundly at night knowing that very few contested balls will end up in enemy hands. While two games is still a relatively small sample size, it’s proof enough to see that Simms, Jennings, Sills and the rest of the West Virginia receivers are among the elite position groups in the nation and will propel the old gold and blue right to the very forefront of the Big 12 title conversation.