MORGANTOWN - Something weird is going on in Touchdown City.
It's very odd. Very peculiar.
We may, in fact, need a little help from Adrian Monk or Joe Mannix or Andy Sipowicz. (Pick your era.)
It has to do with West Virginia's offense. The offense-formerly-known-as-Noel Devine.
It's disappearing like the witch in the Wizard of Oz. Transforming like that Changling animal.
Yes, Devine has been hobbled of late. But, as they say on those detective shows, follow the numbers. (OK, technically, they say follow the money, but it's late and I'm on deadline, OK?)
Once again, West Virginia star tailback Devine, a proven senior and TV draw, failed to reach the 100-yard mark. Those aformentioned numbers? The standout's season, in order: 111 yards against Coastal Carolina; 118 versus Marshall; 131 versus Maryland ... then the mystery.
He carried the ball 14 times against LSU for a mere 37 yards. So, OK, that was against the nation's No. 9 team. Against UNLV, Devine was hobbled and carried the ball but three times and rolled up 84 yards.
But now, after Thursday night's 20-6 Mountaineer victory over South Florida, this thing is getting more and more curious.
Against USF, the senior back had 29 yards on 13 carries.
Yes, the Bulls have a good rush defense. But 29 on 13? Devine?
Part of this is understandable. Mountaineer quarterback Geno Smith has played so well that offensive coordinator Jeff Mullen is confident allowing him to let the ball fly. The receiving corps is rounding out nicely. (Against USF, J.D. Woods jumped up to join the cast of Tavon Austin, Jock Sanders, Brad Starks and Stedman Bailey.)
Check out Smith's passing numbers, again, starting from the beginning of the season: 216 yards, then 316, 268, 119, 220 and, Thursday, 219.
What's happening is Smith is becoming the star. He is cool. He makes terrific decisions. He takes hits. Against USF, he was 24-of-31 with two touchdowns.
So that part of the mystery - sans Raymond Chandler or Michael Connelly - is solved.
What has yet to be solved is WVU's inability to spring Devine like the old days. Heck, his longest run on Thursday was 13 yards. He looked good on the hook and lateral for a touchdown, but you know what I'm writing.
Some of it seems to be the offensive line. The Mountaineers rushed for only 79 yards on 33 carries. Some of it has to be on Devine. Perhaps that injury is lingering. But there's definitely a case to be solved.