The first half was a tale of two Skylers: the best of Howard and the worst of Howard. Skyler Howard’s first quarter was so bad Dana Holgorsen quite possibly popped a blood vessel in his skull on national television. Missed passes, an interception, bad communication. Except for Jared Barber’s fumble recovery for a TD, WVU could’ve been down three scores after 15:00 minutes of play.
However, the HCDH tongue-lashing must have worked, though, as Skyler Howard’s second quarter featured great runs, solid defensive reads, and accurate passing – including his first completed long TD pass in quite some time. The WVU offensive line pushed the UT defense around, leading to the Mountaineers scoring 14 unanswered points before the half. Howard’s passing stats for the day: 10 for 12, 122 yards and two touchdowns.
Wendell Smallwood continued to rush into WVU folklore with another fantastic game on the ground. The junior tailback carried 24 times for a career high 165 yards, and always seems to bust one open at just the right time.
About only making 12 passing attempts in the game, Holgorsen said postgame: "Whatever we gotta do to get a victory, I think everyone will be ok with."
He got that right.
Here's the Great, Good, Bad & Ugly...
- Wendell Smallwood. It is unfair to put #4 in the GOOD category. 105 yards in first half. Crossed the 1,000 yard mark for the season. So he gets his own category. Smallwood has (pardon the pun) carried this offense. I shudder to think what our record would be without him; shades of Charles Sims. Plus we have him for another season.
- Defense: When the final story of this season is written, it will be how our defense was capable of winning a conference championship, but they had an offense that was unable to score points. Imagine how much better a well-rested defense would’ve performed this year? One of these years we’ll hopefully have both during the same season. It just won’t be next year, as we will lose linebackers Kwitkowski, Barber, Pettaway, Dillon, Bruce, not to mention the Great Karl Joseph. Ugh.
- Turnovers: We got the needle moving the right direction again. UT was a team that only had seven turnovers this year…we forced FIVE!
- Special Teams: Good punting (2 inside the 10), and a great play getting UT pinned inside the 1-yard line the 2nd quarter. Turnover forced. Props to them.
- Javon Durante: His 53-yard touchdown catch was good to see. When we get a 4-star prospect, I’m excited when we make good on getting them significant playing experience their first year. It’s what WVU has to offer compared to the UT’s of the world.
- Damn HCDH’s stubbornness on short yardage. Don’t know what he’s compensating for, but in the 3rd quarter why do you run Skyler Howard two straight times from the 3-yard line? If he’s trying to force his O-Line to prove their manhood, frankly I’m a little tired of the shtick.
- Texas. They are the MIAMI of the BIG 12 and Midwest in general. Where they have fallen from is sad. All that history. All that arrogance. All that attitude. Football Karma is a bitch.