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What I Think About WVU Football After Beating Texas Tech

Coaching rumors and other thoughts about the West Virginia Mountaineers after their win over the Texas Tech Red Raiders.

Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

1. I think that the coaching rumors are out of control

There was a report making its way around Twitter about the possibility of Jim Tressel being the next coach at WVU. There is a portion of the fan base who wants to bring back Rich Rodriguez. Both of these hires seem absolutely ludicrous and reek of a fanbase who is grasping for anything. Tressel has a show-cause ruling from the NCAA that doesn't expire until December of 2016. Rich Rodriguez has a direct clause in his contract that requires a one million dollar buyout if he specifically leaves Arizona for West Virginia. I don't believe either of these hires are going to happen. There may be a coaching change for 2016 but it won't be Tressel or Rich Rod.

Tressel, in my opinion, will not return to coaching. At 62 years old, he's proven he can coach, he's won national championships and now, he's moved on to the next phase of his life. He's the current president of Youngstown State and has announced he's officially retired from coaching.

Richard Alan Rodriguez is a more intriguing name to many fans. He represents West Virginia, which some fans hold against Dana despite the fact that Don Nehlen was not a WVU alum. Rich represents the golden age for Mountaineer fans, 10 and 11 win seasons. Fans should remember, Rich only won one outright Big East title (2005) and only won one January bowl at West Virginia. He did record a 31-5 record in 3 seasons.

After a 3-0 start in non-conference play, Arizona has gone 2-5 in the Pac 12. They still have games against #12 Utah and a rivalry game against Arizona State. Bowl eligibility is not guaranteed for Arizona. Is a 5-7 Arizona really in a better position because of Rich?

2. I think fans are ultimately frustrated by not being able to attend more games

Many times on social networks, I see fans exclaim that it is now time for WVU to get out of the Big 12 and how we are just not a fit. Yes, geographically, West Virginia will always be the outlier in the Big 12 Conference. The teams that we currently play have much more in common with WVU than previous schools ever did. That said, fans want to watch the Mountaineers. They want to attend games, tailgate, cook food and spend quality time with their friends and family on more than just 1 Saturday in October. Watching football at home, in a bar, or at a friend's house is fine and dandy but nothing beats spending it with 65,000 other Mountaineer fans or the other 8,000 who made the trip to watch the team take on the next opponent. I think that's a valid concern by fans but it is one that is our current makeup. I think it makes our home games that more important and we should embrace that. And it makes bowl game trips even more special.

I think if you are really frustrated by the lack of regional games, then you need to partially blame WVU. When former Penn State coach Joe Paterno wanted to form the Eastern Conference with all of the regional rivalries we long for today, WVU was a part of a group that shunned Penn State. When the Big East was formed, Penn State was once again shunned. Like everything in life, losing sight of the forest for the trees around you rarely works out.

3. I think that losing causes teams to become desperate

Often the reason WVU has lost this season has been because of fundamentals and being undisciplined. Jumping offsides on 3rd and 1. Defensive holding on 3rd and 8. Dropping passes and making poor reads in both the passing game and by the running backs. Many fans will point that this is a problem because of the head coach. To an extent they are right. Certain coaches are known for being more disciplined than others. I still see those coaches who have garnered a reputation for disciplined teams taking chances when they start on a losing streak. Look no further than Kansas State against Baylor. Kansas State had multiple penalties that put killed drives or took them out of a place where they were able to manage the down and distance. A Bill Snyder led team typically does not beat itself but that is exactly what happened against Baylor. Kansas State could ill afford to make mistakes against Baylor but they did. If a team such as Kansas State can feel the pressure of losing and taking chances, I don't think you can hold it against WVU for making similar mistakes.

We saw a reversal of those fortunes today. WVU was the team making plays, like converting 3rd down runs for first downs and generally catching short and intermediate route passes. Texas Tech was the team today who dropped wide open passes (Fox Sports counted at least 6) that could have put them in favorable 2nd downs or a touchdown. Texas Tech was the one who committed dumb personal foul calls when they were only down 5. Those things directly contributed to the loss for Tech today.

4. I think this win significantly cooled Dana's seat

After October, many fans were upset. Angry. Fans want to win and WVU was not holding up their end of the bargain. This game was pivotal for both Dana and the team. If the Red Raiders were able to come away with a win, WVU is 2 games below .500 and you could make an argument that the team would not recover. I think this game showed that Dana has not lost the team and that this team is still mentally and physically in the game.

I'm just really happy for our guys. It's been a long month and a half, so just to get the victory is obviously pretty good - Dana Holgorsen

I also think that by sticking with the running game and doing what was working, we saw a coach who can gameplan and can adjust. Entering November, WVU's opponents owned a 14-25 record. Texas Tech owned 5 of those wins. This win should help set the tone for the remaining 4 games against who have 5 conference wins between them. 5-0 may be impossible but this team should be going bowling this year.

5. I think the work the defense did was outstanding

Season Game Difference
Points 47 26 -21
Passing Yards 413 199 -214
Total Yards 604 378 -226
3rd Down Conversion 55% 39% -16%

Take a look at that. Entering today's game, this was the #3 offense in college football. The #3 scoring offense, passing offense and total offense. And this defense held them to under 200 yards passing, under 400 total yards and under 40% on third downs. That is just outstanding. The 3rd down percentage is even more remarkable when you consider that Texas Tech was 6/10 in the first half. Texas Tech only converted 1 third down in 8 chances in the second half. That one stat has been the key to the season so far. By getting off the field when the chance arises, the defense remains fresh and the offense has another chance to score.

6. I think that Crest double pass is awful

The first time WVU ran the bubble screen double pass to William Crest, I thought to myself "hey that's a fun little play. But why is Durante double covered on a screen pass? Shouldn't the corner and or safety be coming down in run support?" Now that we have run that play at least 3 times and the result has been the same, the intended receiver has been double covered. Whoever is running the go route needs to sell that run play a whole lot more than they are. Crest really should be throwing that ball maybe 25 yards to an uncovered receiver, not 55 yards to a double covered receiver.

7. I think its no coincidence that we threw shorter and looked better on offense

I fully understand why Dana has stuck with Skyler Howard so far this year. If Dana really was coaching for his job, he has to play the guy who gives him the best chance to win right now and that has always been Skyler. The last two games we have seen the decision making of Skyler decrease considerably. My biggest complaint was the deep throws. Given Skyler's limited height, he had to throw the ball high to get it go deep. Howard seemed to have develop a love for throwing deep and unfortunately he was not very good at it. And his receivers do not help him out. Finally this game we saw more throws that are suited to Skyler: Quick slants, short out routes and dig routes. Lots of intermediate routes that are 8-15 yards from the line of scrimmage. Those throws are the best ones for Skyler and they have been available during the 4 game losing streak. I don't know if Holgorsen simply took the option of throwing deep away or if he got onto Skyler about throwing deep but something was markedly different this game and the outcome was different than it had been.

8. I think that the drive at the end of the first half was key to this game

Texas Tech has just scored to tie the game. Texas Tech would get the ball to start the 2nd half. This scenario happened just last week and WVU somehow managed to let TCU come away with points. Rushel Shell made sure that wasn't the case today. He rattled off a few runs that moved the chains and stopped the clock allowing Dana to bring out Josh Lambert to kick a 39 yard field goal right before half. Getting those points was absolutely key. The confidence for the offense, the pressure it put on Texas Tech and most importantly, the confidence it gave to our defense. In 2012, our offense was prolific but it was doing all of the heavy lifting. During October, our offense sputtered and the defense tried to step up. When one side of the ball is failing, it eventually spreads to the other sides of the ball. For our defense to know that it could afford to give up a touchdown because it was being aggressive is worth so much. Having an offense to back you up and know that it can produce points will ultimately lead to a defense that is able to take calculated chances, like Cover Zero blitzes on third down that produce inaccurate throws.