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Elliott: Turnovers Play A Key Role

October 2, 2011
By JIM ELLIOTT - Staff Writer ( , The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

MORGANTOWN - West Virginia defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel hasn't been unable to escape the questions. His guys just hadn't been able to produce turnovers.

Until Saturday.

Keith Tandy, the reigning interceptions leader in the Big East, picked off two passes and just missed a third, Terence Garvin added another, Darwin Cook recovered a fourth-quarter fumble, and Travis Bell pounced on one on the opening kickoff as the Mountaineers were a rare plus-5 in turnover margin in an easy victory against Bowling Green.

''That was good to see, obviously,'' Casteel said. ''Again, if you looked real close, we probably could have had a few more we didn't get. I think the weather helped us a little, too.''

That's what Tandy was thinking.

''I was just trying to make plays on the ball,'' he said. ''Once the ball got in the air, I was just trying to go get it. I knew it was raining so it was going to be hard to make a perfect throw.''

The biggest turnover, probably, was the fumble on the opening kickoff. The Mountaineers had won the toss and deferred to the second half. Once they procured that one, they basically had two possessions on the Falcons the rest of the way.

''It was fun to see that on the first play after we've been talking all week about not being able to get turnovers,'' head coach Dana Holgorsen said. ''Turnovers are the stat that matters. Everyone is aware of that.''

West Virginia scored 24 points off those turnovers.


Even as the Mountaineers were racking up the rushing yards in a big way, the passing game, which had carried them through the first four games, didn't go to sleep. Quarterback Geno Smith completed 18 of 30 passes for 238 yards and touchdowns to Ivan McCartney (33 yards), Brad Starks (6), and Ryan Nehlen (15). It was Nehlen's first career touchdown reception, and it came against his grandfather's alma-mater. Nehlen's pap, of course, is former WVU coach Don Nehlen.

Stedman Bailey led all receivers with 112 yards on four catches, with a long of 45. It was his third straight 100-yard game.

Backup quarterback Paul Millard came in and completed 1 of 3 passes for 45 yards, that a long pass to Bailey.

The Mountaineers wound up with 283 passing yards,


The autograph session featuring former Mountaineers quarterbacks was a big success, as fans lined outside the Caperton Indoor Facility, waiting to see some of their favorite players.

Most bought a commemorative photo for $5, a group shot of all the guys, and sought as many autographs as they could.

Richard Loring, Fred Wyant, Dale Evans, Ed Pastilong, Pete Secret, Garland Hudson, Mike Sherwood, Bernie Galiffa, Dan Kendra, Dan Williams, Mike Williams, Oliver Luck, Kevin White, Jeff Hostetler, Tony Reda, Ben Reed, Major Harris, Greg Jones, Darren Studstill, Jake Kelchner, Chad Johnston, Eric Boykin, Marc Bulger, Rasheed Marshall, Pat White, and Jarrett Brown were all in attendance.