MORGANTOWN - There is an argument to be made that whatever football troubles West Virginia has encountered this season have merely been ones of timing.
Specifically, it involves the Mountaineers' offense. As West Virginia (8-3, 4-2 Big East) heads into its regular-season finale against Rutgers (4-7, 1-5) at noon Saturday at Mountaineer Field, that offense seems to be catching up to the defense.
"It's not like we didn't think we could put it together before, but we always slipped up somewhere along the way,'' quarterback Geno Smith said. "Now we're playing closer to what we can.''
Oh, if only that had happened a month or so earlier. Thus the timing issue.
When the Big East season began and West Virginia was seemingly ready to roll through the conference, the offense bogged down. A combined seven turnovers against Syracuse and Connecticut in back-to-back games were a huge reason the Mountaineers lost those two games. And that is why WVU, even with a win over Rutgers, now faces the prospect of being 9-3, ranked in the Top 25 and playing in a non-BCS bowl game unless Connecticut loses Saturday night at South Florida.
"You can't fumble the ball seven times and lose four of them and win,'' coach Bill Stewart said Tuesday, referring to the overtime loss at Connecticut, which included a fumble at the goal line in overtime.
But in truth, West Virginia's offensive problems have been more than just turnovers and more than injuries to tailback Noel Devine. They have also included, at times, a confusing lack of focus on the part of the coaches to know in what direction to go. The entire basis of this multiple offense is to have a variety of weapons and be able to keep defenses off balance, and that wasn't happening against the best defenses the Mountaineers played, only the poor ones.
That all seemed to change, though, in last week's 35-10 rout of Pitt. In winning on the road, on poor turf, against a team with a defense ranked No. 12 in the country, West Virginia's offense did exactly what it was designed to do: