MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The game was only minutes old and Kansas still posed at least a mathematical threat when West Virginia misfired on third down.
Headed to the sideline, receiver Shelton Gibson began taking noise from a Kansas defensive back he didn’t recognize. So Gibson chirped back, which is when the defender said, “You better Google me.”
Gibson called it hands-down the worse comeback he ever heard and tried to suppress his laughter as a fire-spitting Dana Holgorsen tore into the slow-starting offense on the bench.
Hours later, Gibson was finally free to laugh after catching two touchdowns in West Virginia’s 48-21 victory.
“If I have to Google you then that’s a bad sign. I should already know who you are. That was so bad.”
Gibson ID’d the Google guy as No. 9, and giggled again upon learning the number belongs to safety Fish Smithson.
“His name is Fish? So if I Google ‘Fish’ I wonder what will pop up … Nemo?”
That Smithson happens to be KU’s top tackler and interception leader carried no significance, because the Big 12’s most enfeebled program is lined with players unrecognizable outside its own locker room.
One might actually have to Google “Kansas football” to learn anything about a team this devoid of talent and buzz. David Beaty, now wrapping up Year 2 of his career suicide mission, owns a 1-20 record. Shown the right amount of patience from KU’s administration, he might yet restore the Jayhawks to bowl-eligibility by the time we’re commuting in hovercrafts and setting the microwave by squinting.
Until then, the Big 12’s worst football collective apparently will double as its worst trash-talkers. If you missed the opening kickoff, you missed another Jayhawks safety, Mike Lee, being penalized for taunting. On a touchback.
All that swagger, yet Beaty ordered his quarterback to pooch punt on a fourth-and-2 at midfield. Kansas trailed 3-0 at the time and Beaty must have thought he was coaching in the LSU-Alabama slugfest as opposed to fronting a team whose defense yields 50 points per game on the road.
Down 17-0, Beaty showed more aggression on fourth-and-short at the WVU 29 only to see quarterback Montell Cozart wrestled down by linebacker Al-Rasheed Benton shy of the marker.
“It was just see ball, get ball,” Benton said. “They tried to overload us and get an extra blocker. (Cozart’s) a big guy and him falling forward will get him 2 or 3 yards, so you just want to get in there and stop his forward progress.”
While Kansas football hasn’t shown forward progress since Mark Mangino was berating parking attendants, West Virginia finds itself charging with the lead pack in the Big 12 race.
Gibson got his left foot down on a 40-yard sideline bomb to jumpstart the opening series, He got his right foot down while catching a 19-yarder in the rear of the end zone. He later ran 25 yards on a reverse.
Then Gibson co-produced the night’s most exciting play — helping out his scrambling quarterback by criss-crossing the field to create the small window for a 32-yard touchdown pass.
That play Gibson attributed to a scramble drill practiced regularly, whereby receivers mirror Skyler Howard sideline-to-sideline in an exhausting sequence that seemingly never ends.
“We do that drill every week,” the receiver said. “Honestly, it makes us really tired, but you’ve just got to do it.”
Same goes for drilling Kansas, which is the weekly norm for those at the top of this conference. West Virginia did its part Saturday, maintaining contender status as it prepares for bigger fish.