We asked a whole bunch of people a whole bunch of times and as best as we the media could gather, the biggest difference in Saturday’s victory against Cincinnati was not any addition or subtraction born out of the “total self-evaluation.”
Maybe that’s true.
Maybe the Mountaineers choose to keep the actual answer to themselves.
Or maybe, after two negligible turnovers and two penalties on the defense, the biggest difference was, in fact, the Mountaineers themselves.
“We executed and didn’t turn the ball over,” WVU quarterback Geno Smith said. “That was the only difference. I feel like we had the athletes to go out there and score points on anybody. That’s if we don’t turn the ball over. We’ve had production all season. We don’t score points when we have turnovers.”
It all sounds very convenient for the Mountaineers, but it was something they needed to fix and, for a week, it worked. Through Stewart’s two-plus years, almost all of his 11 losses have been marred by turnovers and penalties that have kept scoring low.
“We beat ourselves and it shows,” nose guard Chris Neild said. “I’m not taking anything away from any loss we’ve ever had – the teams that we’ve lost to got the best of us that day – but there are times throughout the games where we slipped up and we beat ourselves and it shows at the end.”
WVU has committed 24 turnovers and 52 penalties for 494 yards in Stewart’s 11 losses. In averaging nearly five penalties per game, WVU has committed between five and nine four times. Seven games have seen at least two turnovers, including games with six, four and three. The turnover margin in the 11 defeats is minus-13.
It sounds very convenient, but the Mountaineers make a case that they are often their worst enemy.