After defeating the Kansas State Wildcats 35-6, the West Virginia Mountaineers start 3-0 for the third time in four seasons. But something looks different in Morgantown this year. The Mountaineers are perfecting the art of celebration. The boys of fall clearly enjoy the game. More importantly, the Mountaineers seem to enjoy each other as a team. It is not the celebration of the individual accomplishments (though there are plenty worth celebrating) that is impressive. No, the Mountaineers celebrate each other. In so doing, they demonstrate a level of camaraderie and sheer love of the game that fans in Morgantown simply have not seen in several years.
Celebrating as a Team
Reese Donahue told the media before the season, “This is the closest I’ve ever felt with a team. Ever.” After the game against Kansas State, Head Coach Dana Holgorsen said, “I think with our mindset as a team right now, this means we’ve got a chance to be a good team.” He continued, “we play together and feed off each other.”
Boy, was he right. Not only do they play together on the field, but these Mountaineers have plenty of fun on the sidelines, too. For the second straight week, the Mountaineers celebrated first touchdowns by offensive playmakers. This week, Tevin Bush scored his first touchdown, with a 62-yard reception in the third quarter. Marcus Simms’ reaction in the end zone was even more animated than Bush’s, as seen here in the Dominion Post write-up. Just moments later, his teammates hoist Bush on the sidelines:
Tevin Bush crowd surfing on the WVU sideline following his 62-yard TD grab from Will Grier in the third quarter… pic.twitter.com/HfaD2upXrw
— Jed Drenning (@TheSignalCaller) September 23, 2018
Last week, the team enjoyed similarly raucous celebrations for the first career touchdowns of Dominique Maiden, Leddie Brown, and Alec Sinkfield (the latter picked to be one of the team’s biggest offensive surprises). Holgorsen’s remarks after Kansas State highlight the importance of all this fun the Mountaineers are having. With a team mindset, “we’ve got a chance to be a good team.”
A Sign of Things to Come?
In fact, after the Youngstown State victory, Offensive Coordinator Jake Spavital celebrated the Maiden touchdown by saying it is important to get as many players as possible into the action early because “it’s a long season” and the team will need everything it can from as many contributors as possible. The veteran playmakers, of course, enjoy the celebrations just as much,
— Alec Gearty (@gearty83) September 22, 2018
So far, the Mountaineers have good reason to celebrate. The Mountaineers have a legitimate Heisman candidate in Will Grier. David Sills and Gary Jennings both sit in the top fifteen in receiving touchdowns. The offense ranks eighth in the nation in yards per game. And the defense sits tied for first in the nation in scoring defense, even better than our predicted top thirty position.
Yes, the Mountaineers have had plenty to celebrate thus far. Yes, they have a lot of work left to do. But if they keep celebrating as a team, there are not many limits on what West Virginia might accomplish this season.