The buildup was immense, Morgantown was rocking and the scene seemed set for a prime time upset of a top 4 team, but Oklahoma was simply too much for West Virginia as the Mountaineers ran out of gas. There was plenty to glean from moral victory #2 on the year, however so let's take to the Twitters and get our learn on.
Alright time to take the couch off the porch!!! #WVU 〽️〽️— JaJuan Seider (@coachseider) September 19, 2014
I had a really good feeling about this one all week. In fact I've had a pretty good feeling about this team all year. Morgantown was primed for this one in a way we probably hadn't seen since LSU came to town right at 3 years ago. Obviously it's not fair to say they "should" have won this game. But it's not often that you get the stars to align and a team comes in at night, on the heels of a big win and with the upstart underdog showing so much promise. It was an opportunity that WVU missed as much as anything. An opportunity to jump-start Dana Holgorsen's re-build, an opportunity to make an amazing impression on a huge collection of recruits and an opportunity to vault WVU into the conference title discussion. There will be plenty more opportunities this season but it always sucks to see them pass by.
(Also let's not forget to tip the cap to the Oklahoma Sooners here - that was a rattlesnake nest they jumped into and they did it without a quarterback who wasn't terribly sharp and they still managed to put their opponent away - that was impressive.)
Yes, the game has changed. Thru 3 games Clint Trickett has 1,224 yards passing. Major Harris threw for exactly 1,200 his entire freshman yr.— Jed Drenning (@TheSignalCaller) September 19, 2014
Wowza. If Clint can stay upright be interesting to see where he ends up. I know what happens if I extrapolate that number over 12 more games and it's such a crazy number I won't even type it.
"We got a great opportunity. We got a dandy out there waiting for us.
— Smoking Musket (@SmokingMusket) September 20, 2014
Oh I think I see where this is going....
"We can out block them. We can out tackle them. We can out hit em and hustle."— Smoking Musket (@SmokingMusket) September 20, 2014
(nodding head....bouncing a little)
"Let em know. Leave no doubt tonight! Leave NO DOUBT Tonight! No doubt!"— Smoking Musket (@SmokingMusket) September 20, 2014
(bouncing a lot)
"They shouldn’t have played the old Gold N’ Blue. NOT THIS NIGHT! NOT THIS NIGHT!— Smoking Musket (@SmokingMusket) September 20, 2014
Don't leave your wingman. Never, ever bail out on your brother. You help, you strain, and you just fight. Start fast. Stay on top of 'em.— Patrick Southern (@patricksouthern) September 20, 2014
(looking for a wall to run through)
"Start fast! Stay on top of em! "It’s a game lads. Let’s go have fun and go get us a big victory!"— Smoking Musket (@SmokingMusket) September 20, 2014
(doing a jump/fired up dance in living room with 5 year old as wife look on wondering what she was thinking with me)
That was great. That was so, so, so great. I will never get tired of that speech and I will never get tired of Owen's speech and I will never get tired of anything about that night and it's a nice bonus that we get to play a team in conference once a year that reminds us of the most unique night in Mountaineer history.
And I wouldn't have had a single problem with ditching the standard intro (no disrespect to Doug) and just running that speech. OK, maybe with the way things played out between the man who made that amazing speech and Dana Holgorsen that might have been a little awkward for some folks, but it is my hope that at some point in the future this speech is the intro for a big WVU / Oklahoma night game. That needs to happen. Maybe not next year, maybe not the year after, but that absolutely needs to happen.
That 3rd down bell was my shit!— Bruce Irvin (@BIrvin_WVU11) September 20, 2014
Oklahoma is bringing a guy off the edge on every play and go man to man on back end— Jeff Culhane (@jeffculhane) September 20, 2014
I hereby give my full-throated endorsement for any team to play man on Kevin White and Mario Alford.
It was nice to see it happen to someone else. Also WVU very quietly had an uneventful punt-fielding day. I'll take that. I'm not even going to ask the returner to change the game, just make it so we never notice that anything happened other than catch the ball and send out the offense. When I feel like I can get up and grab a beer when the opponent is punting to WVU and just keep one eye on the game and one on the fridge for around 30 seconds we'll know we've arrived.
Sanchez beaten badly on the double move. Interesting Oklahoma gives Sanchez no help. May need to rethink that ...— John Antonik (@JohnAntonik) September 21, 2014
Kevin White is just a different cat from last year. That route he ran was beautiful and right now he's absolutely one of the two best wide receivers in America along with Amari Cooper. WVU just needed a little more of this.
Couch Alert: Yellow— Adam Kramer (@KegsnEggs) September 21, 2014
Kevin White scored and shit got real.
I couldn't shake the feeling that WVU missed the chance to really jump on the Sooners early. Trevor Knight was looking very shaky and the OU offense took a while to get on track. After hitting a 42 yard field goal on their first possession, the Sooners punted on the next 3 possessions. While WVU hit on the White score on the possession following that first punt, they managed only a long field goal after.
The possession that sticks out as the biggest missed opportunity was where they had 2nd and 6 from their own 47 but had a pair of passes land incomplete to end the drive. A big point of focus before the game was getting in front of the sticks. WVU did a pretty good job on first down in that first half. If you take away the two touchdown passes (both on first down) WVU averaged 3.9 yards per play on first down - a majority of them runs. They got off on the right foot, but couldn't finish enough drives early in the game to get Oklahoma on their heels.
Having said all that 24 points is a pretty good half of football. But it could have been more.
Sanchez draws a holding call. Looked like Lambert has the leg for 54.— John Shinn (@john_shinn) September 21, 2014
Yes it did. And yes he does. That was impressive and Lambert has the biggest boot we've seen around here in a while. I covered Lambert in my game preview and found that he started last season 6/10 in his first 4 games with 3 of those 4 misses coming from 50 or more yards. Then he finished 11/12 over his last 8 games. Banging a 44 yard kick and then having the stones to come back and bang it again from 54 gave me the peace of mind that our kicker is in a very good place heading into a stretch of games that will almost certainly be close and where kicks like that might be the difference between winning and losing.
Speaking of kickers.....
Teams have made a crapload of 40+ yd field goals against WVU this yr. When do we get to enjoy the fruits of #collegekickers ?— Brandon Priddy (@abpriddy) September 21, 2014
I got a couple responses where people seemed to think I was taking a shot at Lambert here so allow me to clarify. #collegekickers is a hashtag that's used to joke about the unreliability of 18-22 year old kids when called upon to kick a misshapen ball through a pair of uprights often 100 or more feet away. Georgia could tell you all about it.
With that in mind, here's a stat to drive you batty - WVU opponents are a combined 8/8 on field goals this season. And these aren't easy kicks - 6 of them are from 41 yards or more. This plays into a larger theme that Mountaineer opponents just haven't made a lot of mistakes this season. Which begs the question is that the fault of WVU or just uncharacteristic steady play from their competition. I think that's something we'll be tackling here at the Musket over the bye week.
Heard some rumblings about this earlier in the week and then heard Casazza make an oblique reference to it during the media roundtable. Not sure what the deal is but the Mountaineer secondary needs to quit missing games.
If replay doesn't make this a TD, I think Holgorsen might light something on fire. #WVU— Allan Taylor (@AllanTaylorWVU) September 21, 2014
Upon first glance I didn't think Mario Alford came down with that score. Glad I was wrong. I said it last week and I'll say it again - Mountaineer receivers have made some absurdly difficult catches this year. I can't remember every seeing a receiving corps making improvement like this from one year to the next. Props to Lonnie Galloway.
This is a fun game to watch. Looks good for the conference. #GoBig12— OurDailyBears (@OurDailyBears) September 21, 2014
Nice for WVU to be bringing things to the table this year after a couple of seasons where they had a nasty habit of taking things off. I like "bringing things to the table" WVU.
A flare up between Tonkery and 6-6, 329 Daryl Williams winds up with the referee's ankle being injured. Here's a 1st, WVU fans cheer ref.— Bob Hertzel (@bhertzel) September 21, 2014
You think they were cheering an injured ref loud there, just imagine how loud they'd have cheered an injured zebra after that atrocious Kevin White facemask call.
That was a good look for Milan Puskar Stadium.
Oklahoma tries on-side kick and it doesn't work. #WVU set up at the 45-yard line.— Keenan Cummings (@rivalskeenan) September 21, 2014
This made no sense to me. Coupled with the reverse-pass that the Sooners called near the WVU goal line (that resulted in a score) it seemed Oklahoma thought they'd need gimmicks to beat WVU and for the first time I started to wonder if Big Game Bob might rear his pretty little head. And if the Mountaineers had managed another touchdown in that first half I'm not so sure that wouldn't have happened. But it was not to be.
"@abpriddy: I'm underwhelmed by Rushel Shell thus far this season" Say something again, quick!— Justin (@JCart304) September 21, 2014
@abpriddy Uh...I think he heard you. (Now talk about his mamma)— Fake Bob Huggins (@FakeBobHuggins) September 21, 2014
I tweeted that right before the drive where Shell did all the work, running 5 times for 28 yards and the score. The lesson as always, I'm an idiot.
Man that was a HUGE momentum-swinging touchdown. Crowd is going nuts, we've got 'em on the ropes,....this might actually be happening!!!
I think I hear something....I've heard that song before......in fact this all feels quite familiar.....
ABOLISH SEVEN NATION ARMY— Smoking Musket (@SmokingMusket) September 21, 2014
Coverage unit strikes again for the Mountaineers ...— John Antonik (@JohnAntonik) September 21, 2014
A friendly reminder that the WVU Special Teams coach makes half a million dollars a year.— Tim Brady (@tbrady74) September 21, 2014
"Well I think that about covers
I've defended DeForest on this site and in this space. He's got a pretty solid reputation as a special teams coach and more importantly WVU's kick and punt coverage teams last year were among the best in the nation. This is a team that's hit a pair of long game-winning kicks over the past several games. They returned a kickoff for a touchdown against Alabama. As I said last week, if you're willing to not give too much weight to the (very significant) miscues, on balance the Mountaineer special teams have been just fine.
But you can't give up that kick in that game at that time. Can't do it. Inexcusable. I've seen a lot of crappy teams manage to cover kicks all year against some pretty good teams. No reason WVU can't get it done with the stadium rocking against Oklahoma.
Want do know how important that play was?
Consensus from #WVU players - the KO return TD before half was difference. "Frustrating"..."Got in our heads"..."Everything went sluggish"— Chris Anderson (@CMAnderson247) September 21, 2014
Should WVU have been able to recover from that play - sure, I guess so. Should they have been put in that position to begin with - hell no. I'm officially standing on the side of the road with my arms crossed frowning as the Joe DeForest bandwagon sputters up the street. Much like LSU in 2011 I'll be spending a lot of time wondering how things go if that kick return doesn't happen.
BOOMER SOONER…AGAIN…AGAIN…AGAIN…AGAIN…AGAIN…AGAIN…AGAIN…AGAIN…AGAIN…AGAIN…#PlaySomethingElse— William Hirsch (@WHirschSports) September 21, 2014
Listen I live in Nashville, I'm married to a UT grad, my father-in-law has season tickets and I've been to several Tennessee Volunteer games and have probably heard 'Rocky Top' 1,000 times. Boomer Sooner is without a doubt more obnoxious. Not even close. They play that damn song over and over and over for everything. Guy catches a punt...BOOMER! Guy makes a tackle.....BOOMER! Bob Stoops adjusts his headset.....BOOMER!! It's awful and it even grates through your nerves through the TV. Jesus they couldn't stop playing the damn thing in 2008 and WE WERE BEATING THEM BY TWENTY.
I'll just say this, my beautiful wife, who could care less about such things overheard it during the game and her eyes instantly went wide: "oh my God is this the team that plays that horrible song? Didn't they do that when you guys won that big bowl game? Oh I HATE this song!"
Regardless of how this game ends, #WVU is a Top 25 team.— Go Mountaineers! (@Mountaineers22) September 21, 2014
Sure looks that way, but they've gotta win some games. We all felt pretty good after WVU had played Oklahoma tough last year too.....
This OU/WVU game quickly becoming the game of the night— Jay Binkley (@3guysinagarage) September 21, 2014
It was a thin national slate and Florida State / Clemson was a slog so we had the nation's attention.
Worth noting as Oklahoma leads 31-24: Sooners have won 21 in a row when they score 30 or more points.— Mike Casazza (@mikecasazza) September 21, 2014
The 61,908 figure is second largest #WVU home crowd in last eleven years (LSU in 2011 is tops).— Chris Anderson (@CMAnderson247) September 21, 2014
More shades of LSU 2011.....also filed under #OminousTweets
And this is the part of our post where I remind all you young whippersnappers that I once attended a game where 70,222 people packed into that stadium. I have no idea how that happened and I think it's like 2,000 people more than the next-highest crowd. Again, no idea how that happened. 1993 was a crazy year.
Dana Holgorsen playing it conservatively with the calls on that drive. #WVU settles for a FG, now down 31-27.— Marc Basham (@marc_b) September 21, 2014
I have no feel for when Dana Holgorsen is aggressive or when he's conservative. None. I'm not saying he's wrong, I'm just saying he's clearly a guy who goes with his gut and I have no read on that dude's gut aside from the sense that there's a very good chance he's got "No Regrets" tatted across it.
I'm good with throwing that up if it's Kevin White... not Jordan Thompson.— TheDeuce (@TheDeuceWVU) September 21, 2014
This is the one that broke their back.
Bad decision to make that throw to Squirt. You know, 'cause his nickname is Squirt. Worth mentioning that he pulled down a similar pass against Alabama, but there's just not a lot of money to be made throwing jump balls to a guy named Squirt.
The Mountaineers were staggered at this point and it was clear they weren't going to stop Samaje Perine with anything short of a chainsaw, but the Wes Tonkery interception gave them new life and the ball in Sooner territory down 4. It felt a lot like the Daryl Worley interception against Alabama. Unfortunately the offense did even less with this one than they did with that one as Clint threw that awful pass 2 plays later.
And it's a crime we've made it this far without talking about him, but how great was Wes Tonkery. Out of his damn mind. There were a lot of players who took that kick return score as a gut-shot. Wes Tonkery is not on that list.
But even despite everything, WVU's chances were on life support until the Big 12 referees elected to pull the plug.
Well maybe we're biased. How about a neutral opinion.
That is the most bullshit call ever.— CRFF (@CowboysRFF) September 21, 2014
"Hi, West Virginia? The proctologist will see you now."— Big 12 Refs (@Big12Refs) September 21, 2014
That about sums it up.
If our indoor practice facility was 100 yards and not 90 yards, none of this would be happening right now.— Not Dana Holgorsen (@FauxHolgorsen) September 21, 2014
Maybe this is the root of the red zone problems!
(hey, speaking of red zone how about that red zone percentage! Two trips, two touchdowns, including pounding it from a power formation early in the game when Oklahoma was still loading the box. That counts as a silver lining, right? I mean that was worth something, right? I'm not even being sarcastic, that was really good!)
Looking forward to Samaje Perine costarring with Brad Pitt in "Fury" Samaje plays the role of the tank #Sooners— Landthieves (@LandThieves) September 21, 2014
And that just about tells the story. 34 carries for 242 and 4 scores (4 SCORES!!) is some pretty brutal stuff. The good news is WVU won't see anyone else with a guy like that running behind a line like that again this season. Maybe not for a few seasons. You know the only thing more demoralizing than a kick return touchdown when your stadium is rocking and you've got a really good look at heading to the locker room leading the #4 team in America by 7? A bulldozing running back that nobody can tackle for less than a 7 yard gain. Death by a thousand hammer blows to the head.
We need a happy thought.
Hey WVU fans, take joy in at least knowing Virginia Tech lost today...again. ;)— Sports Dude™ - DW (@ImTheSportsDude) September 21, 2014
Samaje Perine desherves a helmeth shicker! Whath a game! Shooners rolling to open the sheeshun!— Lou Holtz (@PretendLouHoltz) September 21, 2014
You're the best @PretendLouHoltz.
And not just any 2-2, but an impressive 2-2 where WVU hung with 2 of the top 4 teams in America well into the 4th quarter. Also looked very, very good on offense and has a pair of bonafide playmakers at the wideout position. Given where things left off last year, I think we'd have all taken this and smiled in mid-August.
But the time for moral victories is in the rear-view mirror and it's time to win some damn games. The Big 12 seems to have a burgeoning middle class of 5 teams who will spend the next 2 months jockeying for position. WVU has an opportunity to land at the top of that heap but they need to make plays and finish games.
Stick with us here at the Musket during the off-week as we break down the first third of the season and forecast what to expect over the next 8 games.