The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

College Sports

September 19, 2011

GameDay in Morgantown

No. 2 LSU’s visit will highlight ESPN broadcast

No. 16 West Virginia will host ESPN’s College GameDay for its game with No. 2 LSU this weekend.

The weekly show will be making it’s first trip to Morgantown, and it will be the first time WVU is involved in a game that the show is featuring.

The show starts at 9 a.m. on ESPNU and continues from 10 a.m. to noon on ESPN.

The WVU-LSU game will kick off at 8 p.m. and be televised nationally on ABC.

GameDay is hosted by Chris Fowler, with Kirk Herbstreit, Desmond Howard, Lee Corso, Erin Andrews and David Pollack, and the show features breaking down big games and matchups to watch out for during the day.

Corso’s head dress selection is one of the show’s highlights. Near the end of the show, Corso wears the attire of the team he picks in the marquee matchup.

The location of the GameDay set will be released this week.

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West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith certainly had no shortage of options in the passing attack in the Mountaineers’ 37-31 win over Maryland Saturday in College Park.

Tavon Austin, 11 catches for 122 yards.

Stedman Bailey, eight catches for 113 yards and a touchdown.

Ivan McCartney, eight catches for 101 yards.

Smith is certainly responsible for a lot of that, with precision passing and smart play.

But the primary playmakers — 27 catches for 336 yards — are certainly establishing themselves as among the best.

All of which means little so early in the season.

“We don’t care about that type of stuff,” Smith said. “We believe in ourselves, we believe in each other. Who’s to say who’s better than who? The only way that can be proven is to step on the field and get it done.”

Yet, the numbers can’t be denied.

Neither can the on-field results.

For instance, Bailey made a couple of big moves in gaining 21 yards on a third-and-4 play on the Mountaineers’ last drive that resulted in a field goal and a six-point lead.

“Late in the game, those guys (Maryland, which had come back from a 34-10 deficit to close to 34-31) had a lot of momentum and I felt like I needed to make a play,” Bailey said. “I was able to keep my feet in and pick up the first down.”

The sky is the limit for this group. Anyone can step up and make a play, and they have Smith’s confidence. Why not? He has topped his career best for yards in the last two games.

“It helps out a lot,” Bailey said of the deep group. “Defenses are never able to key on one guy. Everybody is stepping up and making plays. That’s big for us.”

For the season, Austin has 20 catches for 236 yards and a score, McCartney has 17 for 211 and two scores and Bailey has 15 for 229 and two scores.

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Running back Shawne Alston made his debut for WVU and finished with 20 yards on six carries.

Not earth-shattering, but twice he did convert on short-yardage, third-down conversions.

But he was also stopped twice, once on fourth down.

“I was able to convert two out of four, so that’s a start,” Alston said. “But we can get better. That’s only 50 percent. I should be able to convert every one of them. I’ll take it as a start, but we can definitely get better in short yardage situations.”

He was just happy to be back from a neck injury.

“It was different,” he said of his first contact. “It felt good.”

He said it was hard to watch the running game sputter in the first two games.

“Especially when you feel like you can help change that,” Alston said. “We did a good job trying to run the ball, with a bunch of young guys back there. You can’t use that as an excuse. We’re going to get better as games go on. We’re going to run the ball better.”

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