MORGANTOWN - Perhaps the final score was a bit unexpected - after all, no Mountaineer team had ever scored so many points in a season opener, even against lower-division foes - but for the most part West Virginia's 69-34 rout of Marshall Saturday went according to script.
The offense was terrific, the special teams remain a work in progress and the defense was suspect, at best.
It might be a good idea, though, for West Virginia fans to get used to that last part. This is a team that is built to outscore opponents, not to shut them down.
"They played hard. They gave up some plays, but they also got two turnovers,'' coach Dana Holgorsen said. "As far as how many yards we gave up, I'm not going to worry about that.''
That's good, because the yardage the Mountaineers gave up was substantial. Marshall gained a whopping 545 yards and ran a staggering 101 plays. No WVU opponent has ever run more plays, the only previous one matching that 101 being Penn State in 1966. The yardage allowed was just 93 short of the record 638 by Texas Western at the end of a 2-8 disaster that was the 1950 season.
But in a game West Virginia won by five touchdowns and in which the outcome was never in doubt, are those numbers alarming? Well, first-year defensive coordinator Joe DeForest understandably would like to reduce them, but he also knows that what's more important is the bottom line.
"We've got to make some adjustments, obviously,'' DeForest said. "But we got two turnovers and the kids played really hard. We had some busts at times, but that happens in first games and we had some young kids playing.
"We're not satisfied with the points allowed and we have to play better. But it's a start.''
Again, the fact is this is a different kind of team. No matter how many yards the Mountaineers allow, not many opponents on WVU's schedule will outgain them. And even the ones that might do so will have to accomplish that feat without turning the ball over, which is a difficult proposition.
Yes, Marshall gained 545 yards and scored six times (four touchdowns and two field goals). But the Herd offense was also victimized for two scores - Isaiah Bruce's 43-yard fumble return for a touchdown and Doug Rigg's interception and return to the 3-yard line that made for another easy score. And two of MU's touchdowns came after the score was 69-20.
"We want to get three turnovers every game and we only got two,'' DeForest said. "We got a few three-and-outs and that sort of counts as a turnover.