West Virginia has a second-year coach whose record as the architect of the Mountaineer offense is now 12-3. Maryland has a second-year coach whose record as the crossing guard of the Terrapin open door for any player wanting to transfer is now 4-11.
An architect against a director of outgoing traffic.
That’s the sideline comparison when WVU’s Dana Holgorsen shakes hands with Maryland’s Randy Edsall in the usual pre-game ritual before Saturday’s game.
West Virginia has a four-year starter at quarterback in Heisman Trophy contender Geno Smith. Smith has broken nearly all the positive passing records ever established by Marc Bulger, Chad Johnston, Dan Kendra, Oliver Luck, and Jeff Hostetler that came before him.
Maryland has an 18-year-old freshman starter at quarterback whose three collegiate starts have resulted in a one-point win over William & Mary, a road win over Temple, and a close loss in College Park against Connecticut.
In its two games, the Mountaineers have drifted over the defenses of Marshall and James Madison. Smith has pitched them clear of trouble. The senior should be a candidate for the Cy Young Award as well as any football honors.
Even though he was elevated to the starter only after a pre-season knee injury to the presumed starter, Perry Hills has not shown too many nerves. He doesn’t have the most trustworthy of starters grouped around him. But his play hasn’t been the reason Maryland has found the wide chasms it has encountered.
Expectations for success in the West Virginia camp were only a few feet shy of the height of Spruce Knob. The 70 points sprayed all over Clemson in the Orange Bowl raised the level of need for at least 50 points a game from the spectators viewpoint to a wild-fire level.
But the Mountaineers still haven’t shown a break-away, home run hitting runner. Can Smith and his receivers — led by Stedman Bailey and Tavon Austin — shoulder most of the load when Texas and Texas Christian come calling in Big 12 matchups?
Edsall can shower the media with platitudes and syrupy words, but his team had better shower the opposition with a few more touchdowns . . . or at least a few more wins.
Without a more productive running game, West Virginia is not a world-beater. Without a more productive offense, defense, and head coach, Maryland is not an ACC-beater.
This is the last of West Virginia’s non-conference games. This could be the last time Maryland comes into a game with more wins than losses.
Next week, the Baylor Bears from Waco, Texas come to Morgantown for the first-ever Big 12 Conference game played by any Mountaineer team. Next week, Maryland will face Wake Forest. Its three games after seeing the Demon Deacons are against Virginia, N. C. State, and Boston College — not exactly a Murderer’s Row of Top 10 bullies.
The on-paper comparisons between WVU and the Terps favor the seventh-ranked Mountaineers. But the game is played at Mountaineer Field and not in some Fantasy League recreation room where paper is shuffled.
A Border War? Let the Mountaineers fire the first shots from the trusty right arm of Geno Smith.