Turnovers Sting West Virginia University in Auburn Defeat

Article excerpt

West Virginia offensive coordinator Jeff Mullen stood outside a near-empty Mountaineers locker room Saturday night, still startled at his team's six turnovers in its 41-30 loss to Auburn.

It was the most turnovers a Mullen-coached WVU offense had made in his career in Morgantown. It's something that Mullen has a hard time handling.

"People have no idea how much of a letdown it is when it's your job," Mullen said. "We came in, put our money in the middle and went all in.

"But five turnovers certainly says that we need to do a lot better job of taking care of the ball."

The six turnovers were the most by a Mountaineers team since West Virginia committed seven in a 31-7 loss to Syracuse in 1990. Since that game, a WVU team has committed five or more turnovers just 10 times.

Four of the five interceptions were thrown by starting quarterback Jarrett Brown, three of which came in the fourth quarter. True freshman quarterback Geno Smith also threw an interception late in the game after replacing an injured Brown.

The turnovers led to 24 Auburn points.

"It shows that they scored 41 on our defense," Mullen said. "but that was on our offense."

The mixture of a steady pressure on West Virginia's young offensive line along with a more focused attack on the middle of the field likely contributed to the turnovers, according to the second- year offensive coordinator.

For all of Mullen's tricks, Auburn had answers.

"We tried screens and draws and we went over the top every now and then. We threw the whole playbook at them," Mullen said. "We ran reverses, double passes, double passes -- we threw the whole book at them. If we could have just eliminated the penalties and eliminated the turnovers, it would have been a more enjoyable night. …