We passed some huge tests Saturday night. No longer am I afraid of our remaining road games because of the intimidating atmosphere of Big 12 stadiums. You can forget about the doubts about whether this team is ready for "big boy" football in the Big 12. Just look at the swagger, energy and perseverance this team put on display. Our guys took the best shots Texas had to offer and came out winners.
Playing in front of the largest crowd in the history of our program, we proved that we belong in the Big 12. The rest of the season is going to be a fun ride. Before we move on to Texas Tech, let’s look at how each unit performed Saturday night.
While we "only" scored 48 points, our offense dominated the much hyped Texas defense. Sure, they forced two turnovers, and got pressure on Geno with 4 rushers at times, but we moved the ball on almost every possession.
Offensive Line: A-
The spectacular missed blocks that lead to turnovers are vastly overshadowed by the total domination this unit showed in the run game. With two top draft picks on the defensive front, our linemen performed masterfully on a majority of snaps.
Running Backs: A+
Andrew Buie played the game of his life. He kept his head up and hit the holes created by the line with reckless abandon. After hitting those holes he made people miss and broke tackles with ease. Buie also picked up a couple timely blitzes to give Geno the extra second he needed to hit an open receiver. This was an extremely encouraging performance considering the rumors coming out of Morgantown about Alston’s status with the team. Let’s hope those rumors are not true and in the weeks to come we have our full array of backs available.
This defense got stops when it mattered most. I don’t care that they gave up 45 points, this unit buckled down when it absolutely needed to stop the Texas offense. The much maligned Pat Miller made some mistakes, but also made up for them with some timely pass breakups. This unit was just good enough for us to get the win. While a "C" is good, I still worry about our defense being able to carry our offense when that unit has an off day.
The unit again played soft in coverage, however, this week they were able to make open field tackles to prevent big plays through the air. As mentioned previously the much maligned Pat Miller stepped up and made a few big plays to stop the Texas offense. Is this the game where we turn things around and start making big plays in the secondary? Only time will tell…
Special Teams: B-
Dana said earlier last week we were going to use a new game plan for punting. The change in game plan was putting in Tyler Bitancurt to attempt his first college punt. That led to a disastrous result. Then Dana made an in game adjustment and said, we’re not punting. I love that aggressive play and statistics show going for it is often the best play.
Always looking at the glass half full, I will forgive the blocked punt and "blocked" field goal because if it were not for Tavon Austin’s great returns and Bitancurt’s two made field goals we don’t walk out of Texas with a W.
Unlike the last coach to lead us into the top 5, Dana Holgorsen is not stubborn and can change up his game plan. Saturday night WVU ran the ball 7 more times than it threw. Watching our previous games, that is almost unthinkable. This prolific air raid offense pound the Texas defense into submission because Dana took what the defense was giving and ran it down their throats.
Student Reaction: F
Congrats, your lawlessness somewhat overshadowed our football team’s huge victory. If there is one thing we want the college football nation to focus on, it is how our general student population celebrates a victory that they had a major hand in winning. If you’re going to celebrate, at least find something new to do. Burning couches is so early 2000’s. Do something original for a change.
ESPN Coverage of Big 12: C-
Some people call me oversensitive and a conspiracy theorist when it comes to ESPN and its "news" coverage of events/leagues not on its platform. My antennas went up Sunday night while watching ESPN’s BCS show. After saying that the Big 12 is arguably the best conference in the nation, ESPN spent a majority of the show talking about the SEC. Looks like our contract with Fox will influence the way ESPN covers WVU and the Big 12. Last year ESPN made sure ‘Bama and LSU faced each other in the title game rather than allowing Oklahoma State’s prolific offense to face the vaunted LSU defense. Everyone says "defense wins championships" and that will be true as long as ESPN continues to over-hypes the boring SEC brand of defensive football.