Justin K. Aller
Another loss and another set of not so flattering grades to spread around.
It is petty, silly and absolutely futile at this point, but after watching the replay Boyce did not make the catch. The ball went through his arms and hit the turf. However, it is one of those calls that the camera did not give a definitive look, so the call on the field would stand either way it was called. Sigh…
Speaking of a call, somebody needs to call the NCAA because I think we recruited some players on defense. There was a level of competence that we hadn’t seen in well over a month. Was it some new recruits or did we have some new people coaching defense? It was the latter and it seemed to make all the difference in the world.
Before I get into the grades let me say that I am still going to the remaining home games and I am 100% behind this team. That, however, does not preclude me from being critical to the issues I feel need addressed if we are to become bowl eligible. Yes, it looks like we are going to struggle to become bowl eligible.
We had touchdown drives of 66, 67 and 9. Other than those three possessions we did not have a drive over 40 yards. We couldn’t run the ball and we did not legitimately try and stretch the field to make TCU respect the run. At times I thought Fraud was back with all the short passes.
This is the same offense that moved the ball at will early in the season. Did we vastly overrate this unit based on poor opponents or have we just encountered some great defenses recently? Based on the stats it is the latter. Our last three opponents are in the top 35 in NCAA total defense while first 3 of our first 4 FBS opponents in the bottom 25 in total defense. The only good defense at the start was Maryland and we struggled against them.
Tavon Austin: A+
With Stedman still fighting the effects of an ankle injury, Tavon was our entire offense. If it weren’t for him we would’ve been completely incapable of moving the ball. With the other receivers dropping somewhere around 9 passes, Tavon could do no wrong. He was constantly getting open whether Geno found him or not.
Oh yeah, he also returned a punt for a TD. Tavon AWESOME.
This defense looked completely different at times. They were flying to the ball, putting pressure on the QB and had great position on pass coverage. They had some huge hits and were almost always in the right position to make a play. It was almost a complete 180 from what we saw the previous weeks.
Putting DeForest (I added a D to his name because WVU actually fielded a defense this week) in the booth and having Dunlap and Patterson assume more control on the sidelines really helped. If I am wrong about this please let me know, but I think this was the first time we used sign boards to signal in the defense. I could be wrong, as I don’t often pay attention to the sideline during the game.
This grade is probably low, but giving up a 94-yard touchdown on a completely busted coverage is unacceptable. I know it was against a walk-on safety, but it is not something that should happen.
Even though he never had a chip shot, Bitancurt had a bad day. He has to make at least 50% of his kicks. The blockers had a mental lapse in overtime and a field goal was blocked. Bitancurt only had one good punt. It was an overall frustrating day for kicking.
Special Teams Coverage and Returns: A
We forced a turnover, returned a punt for a touchdown and made some great tackles on kick-off returns. If there is one thing that is the biggest improvement this year, it is special team’s coverage and returns. If DeForest is actually coaching special teams, he is doing one heck of a job.
Dana Holgorsen: D
There is aggressive play calling when a conservative pass would better serve our interests. We slow tempo and play conservative when the defense seems to be on its heels. A prime example is our final drive of the 4th quarter. We let the clock tick down and then take a shot deep when a short pass would give Bitancurt a better chance to make the field goal.
This is a stat dug up by Chuck McGill at the Daily Mail: Holgorsen is 8-4 in Morgantown and WVU has two straight home losses for the first time since 2001. Stewart was 19-2 at home. That is not good and will not be put with for a long time. Especially when some donors are already starting to get upset at the fact he does not pay attention to those that are paying his salary.