Up Tempo Or Manage the Clock? That Is The Question

A look of consternation comes over Dana Holgorsen as the final minutes tick off the clock! - Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

WVU's offense is high octane, but it's defense has carried them so far this year. How will clock management factor into Saturday's game against Baylor?

"The clock management continues to baffle for West Virginia…" ESPN’s Bob Wischusen

One interesting component I’ll be watching during this weekend's game in Waco is how WVU's coaches manage the clock. The Holgorsen offense clearly works best when the tempo is moving fast and the defense is unable to rest or substitute between plays. No one disputes that.

However, over the past two Saturdays (and during the OU game), both fans and game broadcasters alike were baffled by the inability of WVU to manage the clock when it needed to slow the game down. Case in point was the final Oklahoma State drive that ended in a field goal and a 30-21 lead. Oklahoma State had two timeouts left - after a great swing pass and personal foul on OKST, we have ball inside the 10 yard line with 2:02 remaining.

2:02 LEFT

  • 1st and goal on the 7 yard line – WVU snaps the ball with :14 seconds left on play clock and run sweep to left…Smith runs out of bounds at the 3 yard line and stops the clock.
  • WVU gets a delay of game penalty that pushes them back five more. ESPN play by play commented, "So, when the clock is rolling WVU snaps the ball early in the count and when it's stopped they use up the entire 40 seconds and get a delay penalty."
  • Holgorsen nearly has aneurism on national television.

1:44 LEFT

  • 2nd and goal from the 8 yard line – Smith runs right and tracks backwards to be tackled at the 19 yard line.
  • OKST uses first time out.
  • 3rd and goal from the 19 yard line - Sims gains two yards to the 17.
  • OKST uses it’s final time out.

1:31 LEFT

  • 4th and goal from the 19 yard line– Lambert hits 34 yard field goal.

Now, we got away with it, but we won’t always. Think about it: first and goal from 7 with 2:02 left on the clock and our opponent potentially could have received the ball back with a chance to win and we'd only spent :31 seconds. It is bad clock management from the coaches, we've seen it in at least three of the games so far and it needs to get better this week. Lord, we have enough coaches - can't DeForrest hold a damn stopwatch and clipboard with clock management tips when WVU gets inside of 2:00 minutes? It would give him something to do.

Aside from the end of the game clock management, one has to wonder if our defense can afford to be on the field 2/3 of the time with a Baylor offense that is more potent than Oklahoma State’s was. Sure, extending our offensive drives will solve everything, but one wonders if the best strategy might be to slow things a bit by running the ball, using all of the play clock every time we snap the ball, and reducing how often Baylor gets offensive possessions?

Up tempo or manage the clock?  That is the question.

Any thoughts?

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