I was kind of afraid this might happen. Had I not been too busy shoveling horse caca (we own a small farm) and written a game preview as I normally do, part of it would have said something like "given that WVU has shown itself susceptible to a physical run attack and given that this is a road game and given that WVU will likely suffer from serious letdown in the wake of a stomach-punch loss this one could be difficult."
Hindsight Brandon sure is smart. Kinda like Alex Trebek with his little answer (question?) cards.
But what happened happened and feelings that were as optimistic as anything we'd seen around here in a few years are all the sudden soured and frustrated. Because it can all change that fast. There's plenty to cover so let's get to it.
Again, here is why today is so big. No. 1, 2,3 play unranked teams. But No. 4-10 all play somebody ranked No. 17 or BETTER.— Tony Barnhart (@MrCFB) November 8, 2014
Killed me. All WVU had to do was survive one more week and there was guaranteed carnage in the offing. #TeamChaos was there, it was waiting, it was beckoning.....so close.
#BringBrandonBack pic.twitter.com/YmAtkgbyfL— RedditCFB (@RedditCFB) November 8, 2014
The people love me!! (Or it's just Ohio State fans taunting Michigan fans over their recently fired athletic director. I prefer to think the people love me.)
I told @WVHess this last week, and I'm echoing the same thought this week: I never thought I'd be vested in the result of a Big12 game.— Jim Ashley (@JimAshley018) November 8, 2014
And isn't being invested in the outcome of Baylor at Oklahoma better than hanging on every dropped pass when Rutgers visits South Florida? The Big 12 is a fun place to be, kids. Embrace it. Love it.
Not certain it's the officials but people who got off bus, were greeted by "Welcome to UT, officials!" are out snapping photos on the field.— Mike Casazza (@mikecasazza) November 8, 2014
Does this seem like it might be important later? This feels like it might be important later.
I guess it's the price of doing business in a conference with one big swinging....program, but it doesn't make it less maddening when everyone, including the officials, fawns over everything Texas does.
Colt McCoy on the #TXGD set now on LHN! pic.twitter.com/hLYMoGk2zm— Longhorn Network (@LonghornNetwork) November 8, 2014
I realize that world peace may be a bridge too far, but can you please, please please do me a solid and never let them broadcast a Mountaineer football game on the Longhorn Network? Because that just looks awful at every conceivable level.
(p.s. I'm sorry about that thing I said when Clint threw that interception)
@abpriddy @SmithFire13 oldie but a goodie pic.twitter.com/FigiZq8At6— Joseph Ashley (@krazyjoeashley) November 8, 2014
Have always loved this and love the shirt I bought with this on it after the 2012 Baylor game. In fact I inexcusably didn't wear that shirt the last two years after wearing it during the historic 2012 win. So this whole thing is kinda on me. I'm sorry. It won't happen again.
Kevin White is looking and playing like a pissed off grown man right now. Could be a long day for Texas if he keeps that up!! #WVUvsTexas— Rasheed Marshall (@RasheedMarshall) November 8, 2014
PISSED OFF FOR GREATNESS!! G.A.M. IS BACK EVERYBODY!!!
Ahhh, we found WVU's passes to Kevin White left over from the TCU job queue. Just had to restart the printer.— David Smith (@SmithFire13) November 8, 2014
It was nice for WVU to involve the Best Downfield Threat in America again. Given that White had 6 catches total over the last two games for 57 total yards, it was time. Unfortunately 6 of White's record 16 receptions went for 4 or fewer yards and none of them were in the end zone. I don't care for the way WVU has begun using White more and more with short screens - that's just not his game. He's got speed but it's not overwhelming. He's shifty but isn't going to manufacture his own yardage behind the line. His strength is getting downfield and making guys guard him - which they often can't. I'm thrilled as heck that Kevin White set a WVU record with 16 receptions in a game, but what that tells you is he wasn't getting yardage in big chunks. The numbers bear it out - White averaged 8.25 yards per catch against Texas despite entering the game averaging 14.3 yards per catch. He was a misused weapon on Saturday.
You don't cut wood with a shotgun.
Margaret Bourke-White working atop Chrysler Building, New York City, 1934 pic.twitter.com/lRghlmY05n— History In Pictures (@HistoryInPics) November 8, 2014
This is basically me every time Clint Trickett gets tackled now. I'm afraid he'll either fumble or worse, not get up. I like Clint a lot but this is nerve-wracking. I'm too old for this stuff.
Review and then false start cost #WVU... Plus, inability to gain 2 yards with 3 plays.— Randy Gyorko (@GooseGyorko) November 8, 2014
This goal line possession was infuriating. First off I'm convinced Wendell Smallwood crossed the goal line on 3rd down, but unfortunately nobody thought to have a camera to give the reverse angle of the play, so we couldn't see what happened from the right side and there was nothing resembling a decent angle. YOU'RE TELLING ME TEXAS HAS AN ENTIRE G*DDAMNED NETWORK AND THEY DON'T HAVE ENOUGH CAMERAS IN THAT STADIUM TO ADEQUATELY COVER A GAME.
That was frustrating.
Then add to that the referees whistling the ensuing 4th down play dead an instant before it began and resulted in an easy score off the left side (you know, figured run to that side just in case it needed to be reviewed again). So essentially WVU scored twice and got nothing for it.
Obviously WVU emptied the clip into their own foot when Russell Haughton-James jumped for a false start when the Mountaineers lined up to go again on 4th down after the review. WVU did not execute well in the first half in Austin, but they also didn't get much help from the guys who got there early to snap pictures of the stadium.
how is there still a shipley— Smoking Musket (@SmokingMusket) November 8, 2014
They're basically the white Ismails. Mrs. Shipley had a busy 90's decade.
(and if you're not old enough to get that joke that's why they made Wikipedia.)
West Virginia tries to tempo unsuccessfully. Lambert tries 53 FG with wind in his face and it goes low and left ...— John Antonik (@JohnAntonik) November 8, 2014
It had enough to make it though and only missed by about a foot to the left. And if you watched Lambert kick it you saw he took a short stroke and tried to punch it into the wind. From 53 freaking yards. Kid may be the most talented kicker ever to come through Morgantown. He's won 3 games already, tied the school record for distance and he's a SOPHOMORE.
Having said all that I didn't like the decision from Holgorsen at all. It smacked a bit of desperation and against a Texas team that has essentially no downfield passing threat, don't you want to make them drive as far as possible up and down the field? That was the time to play field position - something the Longhorns did successfully, pinning the Mountaineers back at their own 1 yard line not once but twice (the second time resulting in a safety).
Of course I just remembered he was 5 for 5 on 4th down two years ago in Austin. Maybe it's just something about that place with him.
Never even touched that guy on the chop block? Flagged for intent?— Randy Gyorko (@GooseGyorko) November 8, 2014
Evidently Big 12 Refs are believers in the Minority Report school of officiating. Intent is a punishable offense. God that call was garbage and stalled out yet another WVU drive. This was a recurring theme.
Equally garbage was the spot on a Rushel Shell run that stalled out THE NEXT drive. Snapping pictures. Say cheese!
Clint Trickett joins Geno Smith and Marc Bulger as the only #WVU quarterbacks to throw for more than 3000 yards in a season. #HailWV— Chris Humphrey (@_CBH_) November 8, 2014
We shouldn't let the last couple lackluster outings obscure the fact that Trickett has put together an excellent season. My constant harping on his size aside (I need to stop that, the horse is a bloody pulp) WVU has gotten every single thing they could have hoped for out of him this year. Had he folded this easily could have been a lost season. You're a tough SOB Clint - thank you.
WVU has ran into a Texas team that's hungry, and flat out wants it more right now— JM2 (@TheDeuceWVU) November 8, 2014
Texas now up on #WVU 21-3 with 6:19 left in 1st half. That's more points than the Longhorns have scored in four entire games this season.— Chris Anderson (@CMAnderson247) November 8, 2014
So Texas is beating the snot out of West Virginia. We know nothing about this season.— Ben Kercheval (@BenKercheval) November 8, 2014
At the end of the day a tired and emotionally drained WVU team ran into a large and ready-to-smack-someone-around Texas team that had the personnel to do it. Sure the burnt orange haven't had a great year, but as the in-game graphic taught us, that's still a team with 35 4-stars and 6 5-stars on its roster. WVU doesn't even have a quarter of that. The Mountaineers didn't help themselves early and the Mountaineers didn't get a whole lot of help early and maybe if a couple things break their way or if they make a couple different decisions Texas is forced to do some things they can't in the second half. But sometimes these things happen.
Just remember that WVU was playing on the road in front of 95,000+ against a college football team that ranks 2nd all-time in wins behind Michigan.....and it was considered an IN-BETWEEN game. It was a tough spot to be in.
RT @ChantelJennings: Jesus lasted 40 days in the desert without food or water. Touchdown Jesus didn't even make it 40 minutes...— Mark Ennis (@MarkEnnis) November 8, 2014
Notre Dame, the yearly fraud.— Sports Dude™ (@ImTheSportsDude) November 8, 2014
And then there was this to take the sting off. Sometimes God throws you a bone. I threw it on split-screen and bathed in the glorious Irish failure.
Alabama and Oklahoma were dumb and tried to pass before just saying LOL these guys can't stop power. Strong just rolled straight to it.— Smoking Musket (@SmokingMusket) November 8, 2014
Holgorsen and his staff have made great strides upgrading the Mountaineer personnel, but defensive line is one of those places that they just aren't where they need to be to compete week-to-week in the Big 12. They're close, but not there yet.
Good guy Texas: Runs all over you in the first half, throws passes coming out in the third quarter— David Smith (@SmithFire13) November 8, 2014
The Horns did their damndest to keep West Virginia in it. Thanks guys.
That didn't happen in a vacuum, though. A Mountaineer defense that was gashed for 180 rush yards on 22 carries in the first half (8.18 average) stiffened up to allow only 47 yards on 17 carries in the second half (2.76 average). Defense stood up mightily in that second half.
That might be the best thing that's happened on a punt return for #WVU all year: 28-yd punt, 16-yd Davis return, 15-yd penalty— Dave Hickman (@dphickman1) November 8, 2014
I can only remember 1 other return that went for more than 3 or 4 yards all year and it was against FCS Townson. But hey, at least we finally found our return guy!
Weird play calls by West Virginia on 3rd and 10 and 4th and 7, same play to opposite sides of short crossing route vs man w/ no rubs/picks— Chris B. Brown (@smartfootball) November 8, 2014
This was the first of two series that were absolutely damning for any chance WVU had of winning this game. The Mountaineer D had found its footing as the second half began, holding the Longhorns to a punt and getting the aforementioned Punt Return of The Century to set up shop at their own 42. Eight plays later they faced a first and 10 at the UT 11 yard line. After gaining a yard on the first two plays Trickett hit Mario Alford on a short cross that was well-conceived, but Texas' Jordan Hicks made a nice play to bring him down from behind. WVU surprisingly elected to go for it on 4th and 7 and Trickett threw to White underneath 9 yards short of the end zone.
The game was in the 3rd quarter and WVU's defense had found its legs. No reason for Holgorsen to chase points there - ESPECIALLY with a team that has not shined in the red zone this season. If WVU gets 3 points here it's a bit of a lift and a well-rested defense has some pep in their step.
Should have been a walk in touchdown for Squirt. Instead, Trickett throws it high and behind and Squirt is lucky he's not hurt.— Chris Anderson (@CMAnderson247) November 8, 2014
So then WVU holds Texas to another punt and is driving again. Mario Alford, who displayed exceptional ball skills in making difficult catches earlier in the year, misplays a ball and can't haul in a certain touchdown. Three plays later Trickett throws an absolutely horrible pass to a crossing Jordan Thompson that, had it been on target was another certain touchdown. As it was Squirt made a heroic try for the pass that was high and behind him and nearly got killed for his trouble. The Mountaineer drive stalled and Josh Lambert missed a 40 yard field goal.
These were 3 players - Trickett, Alford and to a lesser extent Lambert - failing to do things they had done consistently all year. Good teams are made up of players who do those things. For 8 games WVU was a good team because they had players who were doing those things. They didn't do those things for the first 3 quarters against Texas.
Two drives where WVU left 10 combined points on the table. Even if they can come up with just 7 or even 6, the complexion of things changes, confidence builds and you don't enter the 4th quarter staring at a near-insurmountable 21 point deficit. WVU was closer than they looked on Saturday, but that sounds like the type of things we said a lot last year. For the first 9 games of this year they'd been making those plays.
The theme of the day in general for the offense was missed opportunities. Of the 92 plays WVU ran on Saturday, an amazing 52 of them took place in Texas territory. And they only managed 3 scores. Ugh.
And a final note on Squirt - I really love that kid. Not an ounce of quit in him. If he'd made a half-assed effort at that ball nobody would have blamed him. That's dangerous territory. But he tried to make a play on the ball and took a shot. He's been a much more important part of the offense lately; after logging 14 catches in the first 5 games of the year he's snagged 26 balls in the last 5 games, including a big 109 yard day against Texas Tech. With his much maligned punt return issues he could have easily sulked but instead he's kept working and is coming into his own. Squirt is the type of kid that WVU football is built around. I'll take more like him, please.
Always keep a smile— john flowers (@jflow41) November 8, 2014
Good advice. Sometimes difficult advice, but good advice all the same.
The only good part of today. pic.twitter.com/zOmXpjV3NW— Not Dana Holgorsen (@FauxHolgorsen) November 8, 2014
Oh we'll get to this later, don't you worry.
Nobody touched Cedric Reed on that safety of Trickett, breakdown upfront— Jeff Culhane (@jeffculhane) November 8, 2014
Not the best time to go with a deep quarterback drop. Also WVU's tackles Marquis Lucas and Adam Pankey are having bad, bad Novembers. I mean I half expect them to run out there with a red cape. Ole!
Really wish there was an elethen pointh conthersion in collish foothball.— Lou Holtz (@PretendLouHoltz) November 8, 2014
OK things got pretty dark there. We need some Notre Dame schadenfreude!! And God bless whoever runs that @PretendLouHoltz account. Fighting autocorrect must be a brutal day-in day-out grind.
.@AP_Top25 bye.— Not Dana Holgorsen (@FauxHolgorsen) November 8, 2014
It was a nice ride. But to WVU's credit you had to pry that thing away from them like getting Goose's body from Maverick. "You have to let him go, sir!"
I don't want to. We'll be back.
WVU converts its 1st 3rd-down since the 2nd drive of the game. Was 0 for previous 13 before Smith's 6 yd run.— WVU IMG Sports (@WVUIMGSports) November 9, 2014
OK that was pretty bad. I have some uplifting numbers to put you in a better mood. In the first half WVU racked up only 7 first downs to Texas' 15. But in the second half the Mountaineers racked up 17 first downs and held Texas to only 4, and only 1 in the 4th quarter. Guys kept fighting and that matters.
There's the first #WVU pass attempt longer than 15 yards at 9:49 left in the third quarter. PI on Texas. Technically no play.— Chris Anderson (@CMAnderson247) November 9, 2014
By my count you had this one, the two shoulda-been touchdowns we covered and maybe one other pass in there. That's it. I don't know if this is Holgorsen not trusting his line, or not trusting his quarterback or his quarterback not trusting his line or what. I just know if you have this type of success going downfield maybe it's something you should look into more.
Well, when you have to ride or die with a 165 lb QB.....sometimes you die.— Brandon Priddy (@abpriddy) November 8, 2014
This came out snarkier than I intended. I swear it wasn't a dig at Clint. Really, it wasn't. Let me explain.
Basically Clint Trickett is my 1993 Chevy Cavalier. My parents bought it for me the summer after high school graduation in 1997 to hold up their end of an agreement we'd made that if I got a full scholarship they'd buy me a car. We weren't rich so it wasn't a brand new Mustang or anything, but it was a good solid car and it was the best (only) car I had available to me.
That Cavalier wasn't going to get me laid - hell, the thing was teal. But it allowed me to take a young lady out on a date. That Cavalier wasn't going to win any races or style points, but it got me all the way through college and made plenty of trips from Lexington to Morgantown. It was good enough to let me do what I needed to do - but it wasn't going to do much on its own. It hardly ever broke down (alternator went out once), but it handled surprisingly well in the snow and basically took care of business. I loved that car and when it finally crapped out after I pushed it through two different sets of mountains going to the Charlotte Tire Bowl in 2002 (Nashville to Charleston to Charlotte and back to Nashville was a brutal thing to do to a 10 year old Cavalier), I wasn't mad at the car. I'd gotten my money's worth.
That's Clint Trickett. He's allowed this offense to run. The numbers aren't always flashy and the results can be uneven, but it usually works. Sometimes the alternator breaks down. But he's a good, solid, serviceable option in a year where we don't have any other options.
Clint probably does better with the ladies than my 1993 Cavalier, though.
An unranked Texas team hasn't defeated an AP-ranked opponent at home since upsetting 6th-ranked Texas A&M in 1998. #WVUvsTEX— College GameDay (@CollegeGameDay) November 8, 2014
Well that's just fan-friggin' tastic.
Then we had our weekly Dreamius Drive - Smith ripped off a 62 yard run and followed with an 11 yard reception of a screen. Wendell Smallwood got the touchdown but for the 4rd week in a row we had a scoring drive that was almost exclusively the work of Smith (73 of 80 yards). Also worth noting that the last 3 weeks Dreamius has set the mark for longest run of the season - 40 yards against Oklahoma State, 50 yards against TCU and the 62 against Texas. Also worth noting he's scored a touchdown in 4 straight games. And final note, he's averaging 10 carries a game over the last 4 games.
One of those stats doesn't make any sense.
Please do not talk bad to our MOUNTAINEERS..to the players. They TRYIN ..they NOT going out there to lose. Stay behind them. Pull together— ALEC ~〽️ountaineers (@gomtneerz1) November 9, 2014
Twitter is awesome because you can have some great direct back-and-forth with people you'd normally never get the chance to talk to. Twitter is awful because angry people can send stupid things directly to people that they'd never in a million years say to them in person. Our audience is pretty sharp here and if you're reading this I'm pretty confident I don't have to tell you this, but please don't tweet things at players. Don't. Tell your friends not to. We're better than that, guys.
Personally I'm going glass half full with this one and concentrating on the fact that this team didn't quit. They entered the second half down 21 and this has happened before and they haven't fought back before. This time they did and if someone makes a play here or there it's a totally different ball game. Based on that I still feel pretty good about where this team is and am absolutely convinced that the week of rest will be vastly important, they can work out some of the kinks and will win the last two games of the season.That's right, I'm predicting 2-0 to finish out.
Let's end with some happiness.
#Big12 confirms that @K_DILLON20's ejection against UT wasn't for fighting. Dillon won't miss first half of #WVU's Nov. 20 game vs K-State.— Ed Owens (@owens_ed) November 10, 2014
Good to hear. Also crappy job by Fox on this one. Usually they do solid work, but they completely packed it in at the end of this game. When K.J. Dillon went out there was a deafening silence. No replay, no explanation, no sideline reporter giving context, no discussion on if it was a punch and whether or not it would result in suspension for the next game. Nothing. Step your game up, boys. Some of us care.
And finally I'll leave you with this:
I have no idea what the hell that is, I just know I was crying with laughter. But you have to watch the whole thing. Trust me. I know it should get old but for some reason it just keeps getting funnier as it goes. And the music is perfect. We could all use a good belly (crotch) laugh. Enjoy.
So enjoy the bye week and here's hoping the Mountaineers get rested and get right to finish strong. I like their chances and I like this team. I also like veterans. You should like them, too. Thanks to all the men and women who have served this country so lesser men and women like me can blog about it's silly little games. West Virginia has the highest per capita rate of vets, so you should all have ample opportunity to say thank you. Avail yourselves of that opportunity.