Crazy game. Insane. Almost certainly the most thrilling victory we've seen since Holgorsen's first year when his squads came back 4 times from fourth quarter deficits to win. It felt in a lot of ways like a seminal moment for this team and this coaching staff. Certainly large challenges loom down the road for this 2014 Mountaineer squad, but for now let's revel in victory, toss all our tweets on a bed and roll around in them Indecent Proposal style.
The key to gameday is always a good night's sleep. My sister's family provided us with wonderful guest quarters and suffice to say I awoke ready to take on the world. Preferably those parts of the world unequipped to take on me. Unfortunately neither my 5 years old daughter nor 6 year old daughter would do Oklahoma drills with me so I had to settle for arm-wrestling with my 6-month-old nephew. A win's a win though and I AM UNDEFEATED!
(Watching football with my brother-in-law was great. He introduced me to the DirecTV split-screen which will change my life and we had both Marshall and WVU running simultaneously. Exceedingly good times.)
Welcome to Lubbock, where guy in the press elevator said at #WVU last year he "loved the smell of beer walking up to the stadium."— Dave Hickman (@dphickman1) October 11, 2014
You and me both unnamed press dude. And yes, we take that as a compliment.
Betting line updates (via http://t.co/L4WB9J3lsH): Oklahoma up to a 17-point favorite. Baylor down to 7.5 vs. TCU. WVU at 6 over Tech.— Chuck Carlton (@ChuckCarltonDMN) October 11, 2014
Here's where I started to get nervous. A touchdown is just a lot to give a decent team in conference on the road. Given the uneven efforts we'd seen from WVU the last few games no way I felt like they were going to come in and win easy.
The Mountaineers are in the all-blue look today - blue helmets, blue tops and blue bottoms.— WVU Football (@WVUfootball) October 11, 2014
In this week's fashion corner confusion reigns. All blue on the road was weird. Wearing blue for the second time this season on the road was weird. Home team going all white is weird. Everything about jerseys in the last 5 years is weird.
PRAISE JESUS AND PASS THE MASHED POTATOES!
I don't know what that means, I just know that I was really happy to see someone other that Squirt getting work at the punt return spot. Long overdue but better late than never.
WVU has had four straight games with 500+ yards of total offense, matching the 1993 team for the longest streak in school history.— WVU Football (@WVUfootball) October 11, 2014
a) that's really impressive
b) If you've ready much of my stuff, you know I'm an absolute sucker for anything having to do with the 1993 team. Love that team the most, will always love that team the most and if you mention that team I'll probably talk about it.
Eat your hearts out, ladies.
I know you think those WV State Troopers are for Coach Holgorsen's safety. They're actually for yours.
Holgorsen and Shannon Dawson have made no secret of their desire to establish the WVU ground game for awhile now and it was a no-brainer that they were going to come strong with it against a team ranked 124th nationally against the rush giving up nearly 260 yards a game. The trick with the running game though is that it's benefits are often seen as a cumulative effect. You run and run and run and then finally in the 3rd or 4th quarter you have physically worn down an opponent and mentally worn down an opponent and what might have been a close game for 2 hours finally opens up for the final few series. I'd say it's not a stretch to say Holgorsen sat on the sidelines watching what the Oklahoma Sooners did to WVU a few weeks ago and think "damn I wish we could do that."
Two very different teams obviously but #WVU held Kansas to 176 yards last week, TTU with 181 yards in the first quarter— Jeff Culhane (@jeffculhane) October 11, 2014
Texas Tech's defensive line didn't trouble anyone in the first five games. It's giving WVU problems early, and the Red Raiders lead 14-3.— Mike Casazza (@mikecasazza) October 11, 2014
Of course the trick is you have to survive long enough for the pounding to pay off. And I don't think I've ever seen a team worn down while sporting a double-digit lead.
(actually scratch that - in the 2003 opener Wisconsin wore WVU down physically with the running game as the Mountaineers sported a 17-7 lead before the Badgers eventually won 24-17. See, watch enough WVU football and you see all sorts of things!)
My man Booten was obviously right. There was a lot we'd see going on Saturday afternoon. Also I'm stupid and forgot that WVU got down 17-3 to the TCU Horned Frogs last year in Ft. Worth before coming back to win in overtime.
Now that I think of it there have been a lot of complaints about Holgo's teams losing games by wide margins, but as I think back they've come back from an awful lot of deficits, too. That's not something WVU teams have always done much of.
It felt like WVU forgot White was on the field for large stretches of game. But then they'd go to him all at once and it would go really well and you'd come away wondering "why don't we do THAT more?" What if I told you White matches his career high for catches with 13 (1 short of the school record)? I know that caught me by surprise. Also I caught myself thinking "man he hasn't been involved at all no way he keeps that 100 yard game streak going" before he caught a short pass and went over 100 for the 6th straight game - a WVU record. And all that was BEFORE his biggest catch of the day for the 26 yard score to bring WVU within 7.
I don't know what the point of any of that is other than to say Kevin White is a special, special player the likes of which we may not see again for a while. I've got to think now he's the prohibitive favorite for the Biletnikoff Award (special bonus - by the end of the month I hope to be able to spell that right without looking it up). So soak in his last 6 (7?) games and enjoy it, folks.
Kyle Rose played the first 22 snaps, comes out on the 23rd and is replaced by Darrien Howard. There goes the redshirt. Again.— Mike Casazza (@mikecasazza) October 11, 2014
K.J. Dillon did not have his best day, consistently losing guys in coverage over the middle and a really, really dumb penalty to negate a 1st half WVU stop on 3rd down. The good news is he finally settled in, intercepting a ball right before the end of the half to keep Texas Tech from extending what was already an 11 point lead. In the second half he was much more reliable and made a HUGE pass breakup to stop Texas Tech on 3rd down when WVU was fighting the clock and needed the ball back to rally. K.J. was WVU writ small - kept fighting, kept scratching, ended up winning. I'll take it.
Aside from the obvious "hey it's nice to be able to field a punt" reasons, I think this was a very, very important development. More on that later.
Related to that last tweet and also important. We'll get to this later. I promise.
Understand going here. Going to need TDs. I'd just kick it right now. Neither is terrible.— Randy Gyorko (@GooseGyorko) October 11, 2014
Good point on the decision to go for it on 4th down. There was a case to be made for both, but the most important thing was to be right. Either nail the kick or convert the 4th down. WVU went and did not convert.
Texas Tech field goal builds lead to 24-13. Teams combined 3-for-3 on FGs today, meaning their opponents are combined 17-for-17 this season.— Mike Casazza (@mikecasazza) October 11, 2014
Honestly - 17 for 17 and a lot of those are difficult kicks. Also teams have only fumbled twice against the Mountaineers this year (the second coming by the Red Raiders) and WVU hasn't recovered either. I'm trying to decide how much of this is luck and how much is WVU just not being able to put the type of pressure on teams that leads to mistakes. I honestly don't know which one it is.
Let's hear it for second half adjustments!! A Mountaineer secondary that was getting roasted early tightened up the coverage and filled the holes - specifically at the safety position. After a trio of first half touchdowns, Texas Tech got held up for a pair of field goals (21 and 25 yards) and the one long touchdown run. It was vintage 3-3-5 stack. Keep everything in front and turn touchdowns into field goals once a team drives to the red zone and you get that extra defender dressed up as the end zone.
Ben's got jokes, y'all. (this actually really made me laugh)
A recurring theme on the Twitters.
Listen, there's nobody who appreciates a good called run on 3rd down more than me. I grew up watching Don Nehlen for Pete's sake. I'm a freaking connoisseur of draw plays on 3rd and long. I collect them in my basement and have tastings.
But I didn't get what Dana was doing on his calls. These weren't draws designed to draw the defense in, these were off-tackle runs that are the staple of any decent offense on 1st or 2nd down. He was clearly seeing something that made him feel good, but I'd argue after the 2nd or 3rd time maybe you're not seeing what you think you're seeing.
There are at least 2-3 moments per game where WVU does something I can't really explain.— Patrick Southern (@patricksouthern) October 11, 2014
But doesn't that keep things interesting?
For the record, I saw this tweet directly before either the Kevin White touchdown or the Squirt score. Point being IT'S WORKING FOR US NOW, Y'ALL!!
WVU has four runs and no first downs on third-and-6 or longer. Texas Tech just won this game with a 69-yard touchdown run on third-and-10.— Mike Casazza (@mikecasazza) October 11, 2014
That would have been a particularly cruel irony. Luckily WVU had a little magic up their sleeves and a game that looked all but lost was salvaged.
You want to get a true sense of the scale of this comeback? Consider this - the recent WVU comeback by which all WVU comebacks have been judged was the Louisville game in 2005. In that game (a home game) the Mountaineers scored the first TD of their rally against UL with just over 8 minutes left. They would then recover an on-sides kick, get a field goal, stop UL and score a TD with just over a minute left to tie. So essentially 17 points in a little over 8 minutes helped along by an on-sides kick.
Saturday they didn't get the first score of their rally until just under SIX minutes left. So in over two minutes less of game action they scored as many points (17) as against UL in 2005 only did it without the aid of an on-sides kick. Oh, and they did this all on the road. That's impressive. For perhaps the first time since he's come to Morgantown we saw the true power of a Holgorsen offense when forced to recover from a deep deficit late.
It was difficult. Especially after the late long TT touchdown run. The 'eers had every reason to pack it in on the road and trump out all the "it just wasn't our day" quotes. Because for a long time it wasn't. But they made it their day. That's not something every team can do. That's not something a majority of teams can do. I'm the guy who kept tweeting out "this is a big series for this staff" and they answered the bell time and time again. Hats off to them all.
Oakman is a freaking specimen. But let's save next week's nightmare for next week, OK?
Twice WVU lined up and ran the ball down somebody's throat in to the end zone. That's something they've struggled with. I especially liked Shell's effortless jaunt to paydirt out of the diamond in the second quarter - again, something they've struggled with. Aside from the sheer fact that it was a win, WVU did a lot of things on Saturday that specifically answered constant bugaboos they've had. Gotta feel like that put them in a great place mentally for Baylor this week.
And his name is Josh Lambert. The sophomore (SOPHOMORE!!) has now banged 3 game-winners for the Mountaineers, one of them tying a school record. There are onions, and then there's whatever Lambert has between his legs.
(that was weird wasn't it. Sorry, I apologize. I'll stop.)
Holy hell, 55 yarder for the win by West Virginia. 55!— Clay Travis (@ClayTravisBGID) October 11, 2014
Hell even King Troll himself stood up and took notice.
Yes I think I'll listen to this about 15 times this week thank you very much.
Evidently when Dustin Garrison isn't starring in Mountaineer Wrestlemania, he's taping fantastic postgame locker room scenes that give us chill bumps. We like you Dustin Garrison, we like you a lot.
I love that you're a Mountaineer, too. Hey speaking of Squirt I said I was going to talk more about Squirt so let's talk some more about Squirt. Last week I wrote this (emphasis added by me):
There is no part of this problem I understand. You have 85 scholarship players on roster. You have a variety of skill-position players who would seem well-suited to at least take a crack at fielding punts. Mario Alford, Shelton Gibson, Dravon Henry, etc. Yet time and time again they keep trotting Jordan Thompson out to the wolves. The kid clearly wants no part of fielding punts at this point and you'd think at some point just put someone else in there just to protect a kid who, if he can hold his psyche together from the damage being done on the punt return front, could be a serviceable slot receiver. It smacks of a stubbornness that I don't care for and is eventually going to cost this team a game. At least a game.
I'm going to go ahead and say I was 100% right and take my victory lap. I don't get many of them. I refuse to believe it's a coincidence that on the day he finally had the steaming pile of punt return duties taken off his plate, Jordan Thompson put up the best day of his career - 6 catches for 109 including a 56 yard score. This team needs a slot receiver badly - Thompson showed he can be the guy we've all wanted him to be for a couple years now. He seems like a great kid who was doing what he could to help his team - namely take a job nobody else wanted. Here's hoping others can take that on and he can focus on helping the team out of the slot. Good for you Squirt - we're all happy for you.
Personal note time. My late Paw-paw made the greatest pepperoni rolls on the planet. This is a fact. So a few weeks ago my sister and I agreed to make them when we came to visit her. Unfortunately for her her brother is a jerk college football fan and blogger and was a bit consumed on Saturday afternoon. My contribution consisted of me saying "yeah that sounds right" or "yeah that looks right" as she attempted to re-construct the recipe. She nailed it. I had like 5 of them. Pepperoni rolls and beer in postgame victory bliss is Maximum West Virginia. Thanks, Sis.
Tweet of the day, tweet of the week and our leader in the clubhouse for tweet of the year. Brilliant. And another sign that this team genuinely seems to like each other, which something that I don't think you could always say about them (I'm referring more to 2012 - there's a difference between not liking each other and not knowing each other which I think was a big issue last year). That's a good thing. That helps win games like this - and there will be more games like this, have no doubt.
So congrats to the lads and let's set our sights on Baylor. I'm making a real effort to include more tweets from you guys in these so please tag me during the game at @abpriddy or use the hashtag #WVURT. And tell your friends - the more the merrier.
I'm excited to get to the meat of the schedule and I'll leave you with a couple hopeful nuggets regarding Baylor:
a) noon kickoffs suck for teams traveling east
b) this WVU team has been sneaky good with noon kicks - much better than at night.
Have a great week, keep tweeting and LET'S GOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!