WVU Receivers Produce In Big Moments At Texas
AUSTIN, Texas – West Virginia wide receiver Gary Jennings didn’t practice for most of the week prior to the Texas game, but that didn’t stop him from making what might turn out to be the biggest catch of the year for the Mountaineers.
“I think I have great stamina. I’m always ready when my number is called,” said Jennings, who bristles at any suggestion that he’s not 100% ready at all times. “I am pretty well conditioned.”
That’s part of a top athlete’s mentality — the idea that no illness or injury can slow him or her down. Hitting the field at anything less than 100% capacity? Doesn’t happen, at least in their minds.
Coaches can sometimes be a bit more pragmatic, however, and head coach Dana Holgrosen admitted to a few lingering doubts as game time approached.
“He found enough energy,” Holgorsen said of Jennings. “Him and Marcus didn’t practice at all this week. They were out all week, didn’t practice. I was concerned
about it going in. They were able to give us some snaps and catches, but they weren’t quite where they normally are based on a week of practice.”
While Jennings or Simms probably wouldn’t look at it that way, it’s actually a compliment to their abilities. Miss all week, and a bit of timing can be lost. So too can a bit of energy reserve, and in the fourth quarter of a game that featured high intensity action throughout, the spirit might be willing the but the flesh a bit weak. Jennings, clearly relying on mental toughness to push him through, came up with a 33-yard touchdown reception with 16 seconds to play, putting the Mountaineers in position to win the game.
On the play, Jennings burst by his defender and caught the ball cleanly in the back of the end zone, getting one foot down before disappearing into the throngs of people ringing the field.
“I thought it was in but when I looked back it was closer than I though it was,” Jennings said of the catch. “That was a pretty big play. It was very exciting. You just have to concentrate on catching that ball, because nothing else happens if you don’t.”
Teammate David Sills also gave credit to Jennings and Simms for battling through adversity.
“We left it all out there as a team. A lot of guys are exhausted. That’s why we play this sport, and it was really exciting.
“They were a great team and they gave us a hell of a fight. I think of two situations last year, Virginia Tech and TCU, we weren’t able to put it in the end zone, and we were able to put it in the end zone this year against Texas.”