And while Smith averaged those 7.3 yards per completion, he averaged just 4.7 per attempt. Connecticut, with a pass offense ranked among the 20 worst in the country and a last-minute replacement quarterback who had been benched earlier in the season, averaged more per attempt (5.7) and completion (9.2).
For the third week in a row - the second loss in a row - West Virginia's offense began quickly and then failed miserably after the first quarter. In those three Big East games against South Florida, Syracuse and UConn, the offense scored 10 points after the first quarter. Seven of those came at the end of the first half against USF when a Robert Sands interception put the ball at the 7-yard line.
Mullen said after the loss at UConn that his offense made no major adjustments after being shut down except to alter some blocking schemes at halftime because of how the Huskies were positioning their inside defensive linemen.
"But other than that we stayed with our game plan,'' he said. "We felt real good about it.''
The truth, though, is that after the first three drives of the game, it was a struggle for the offense. Only two of the remaining 10 drives advanced the ball more than 34 yards, and those ended with a field goal and a fumble. In the second half, Clarke's fumble came on the UConn 26, but it was also while WVU was trying to convert a fourth down. Smith's fumble came after the Mountaineers had moved the ball out from their own 3 to a first down at their 44, but it also required a 15-yard penalty against UConn for a horse-collar tackle that wasn't.
That was also the drive on which West Virginia went to its power package to get out of that deep hole and gained 8 and 16 yards on the first two plays with Clarke. But then instead of continuing with what had worked, out came Clarke and the tight ends and the offense went with five wide receivers. Smith's first pass was tipped and nearly intercepted, and although there were two more first downs on the possession, one was on the horse-collar penalty - without it WVU would have faced third-and-12 - and the other required a third-and-10 conversion.
But Mullen, who was obviously extremely upset about the loss, stuck to his guns.
"The five-wide stuff was really working for us. We felt like we needed to pick up the tempo and speed the tempo back up and we have a lot more play calls out of that set,'' Mullen said. "I feel confident about those calls.
"I didn't have a problem going five-wide. I understand your question, I just don't agree with it.''
But he can expect the questions to continue if the results remain the same.
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickm...@aol.com.