This column marks I believe one full year of writing for the Musket. After starting out by just posting a fanpost after the OSU loss which was published, I came on the next week and posted another fanpost after Baylor. So the Musket reached out to me and asked if I wanted to do it weekly. My first “official” article was the one after TCU when Boykin had a game. Honestly, its easier to write this article after losses than wins sometimes, because you can pick out both good and bad. Saturday provided both good opportunities and bad plays.
I think last week’s article is even more pertinent today than last week
A week after saying Skyler was getting booed, at home, by pockets of our fans, Skyler goes out to Stillwater and plays the worst game of the 2016 season. He fumbled midway through the second quarter and allowed Oklahoma State to take the lead for good. The defense was unable to stop Mason Rudolph. Howard threw two interceptions. All three of his turnovers resulted in Oklahoma State being inside the West Virginia 10-yard line. All three resulted in points, two touchdowns and a field goal. None of that ultimately matters because Skyler is still the quarterback of this team for the remainder of the 2016 season. You can be upset with his play Saturday. You can be disappointed the team lost Saturday. You cannot boo our players, you cannot tweet at players and you cannot cheer if he gets hurt Saturday.
I think Mike Molina is altering the play calling
Mike Molina hails from my hometown, Hurricane, WV. After Oklahoma State took a 13-10 lead in the second quarter, the Mountaineers answered with another long drive. This time the drive stalled and the Mountaineers attempted a 39-yard field goal. Molina missed. That makes him 11/15 on the season, 0/2 on another over 40 yards and now 5/7 on attempts between 30 and 39 yards. We were spoiled by Josh Lambert in 2014 when Josh had a monster leg and made some incredible kicks. Molina obviously doesn’t have the leg strength of Josh and that requires the offense to be more aggressive as they cross the 50. Instead of knowing that the defense is playing cover-2 shell and they will need to methodically take their time, the team has to be more aggressive. These drives can’t stall at the 29-yard line. These drives can’t result in a 48-yard field goal. We just aren’t going to get points in those situations. Unfortunately when you force offenses to get out of their comfort zone based on how the defense is playing, bad things can happen. Drives can stall or turnovers can happen.
I think more than anything West Virginia hurt themselves
The plays were there to be made. Some of the calls on the field were questionable. I’m still not sure how Ka’Raun White got called for offensive pass interference on that one play. Justin Crawford negated a 40-yard catch and run by Durante with an illegal block, though I get the call I’m a little curious about. Overall WVU was called for only 6 penalties but those six put WVU in position to fail. WVU and OSU traded field goals to open the game. WVU was moving the ball before White was called for OPI, then Orlosky was called for a facemask. Unable to gain 24 yards in two plays, WVU had to punt.
Howard’s first interception was a tad high but White got two hands on the ball. He tipped it and OSU returned it all the way to the WV 9. After driving and a chance to get the game within 3 points, Skyler underthrows a fade to White and White fails to jump and make a play.
Oklahoma State made plays and West Virginia did not. These were two very evenly matched teams. I’m not going to say we were better than State because they have players and play makers. West Virginia failed to capitalize on their chances while Oklahoma State did just that. The plays were there for us to make but they weren’t made.
I think this post game press conference is overblown
I read a few media talking heads and a few fans who seemed upset at the head coach for his post game remarks. The media felt like he was upset and gave short, brunt answers. (He did). There seems to be this thought about him taking shots at the facilities of West Virginia. I did not hear that. I heard a coach praise the OSU facilities but he did not denigrate the WVU facilities and I feel that is an important distinction. I can say you have a great house without implying my house is a shack.
If you are a fan of the red-bull swigging, brash, fun-loving coach, then you need to embrace the brunt, frustrated coach when he loses. That is his personality and I know a lot of you fans felt the same way he felt after that game. I am a NY Giants fan and have watched the media and fans alike tear apart Eli Manning because he answers every question with “Well I need to play better” when asked why a receiver dropped the ball. When asked how do you overcome this loss its “We just need to get back on the field and work”. He doesn’t give anything away but he doesn’t really answer the question. It’s all platitudes. If you don’t want that type of answers then you need to live with the coach who really doesn’t want to talk to the media after losing.
I heard a coach who was frustrated and was essentially letting his players know that you aren’t as good as 6-0 but you aren’t as bad as 0-1. You need to work and it starts next week.
I think the sky isn’t falling
Well the 12-0 dream is done, but 12-1 is still a possibility. The playoffs are still a possibility. To every columnist who is now declaring the Big 12’s playoff chances dead, I bet you $20 bucks. I might be out $500 dollars but until I see Clemson, Alabama, Washington AND Michigan all go undefeated in the same season I will not believe for a second that one or two of those teams will end up with a loss. History tells us its more likely to be teams with a loss than to have 4 undefeated teams. If Clemson, Michigan or Washington lose in their conference championship game, while the Big 12 sends an 11-1 WVU with wins over Oklahoma and Baylor to close out the season, I dare you to tell me those other teams will make it.
West Virginia needs help to win the conference and I’ll get you guys a breakdown later this week. The dream is still alive though. The season isn’t lost. 8 or 9 regular season wins is highly likely. Are you going to tell me this season isn’t a success even if we finish 9-3? The most regular season wins since joining the Big 12 is a failure? No it isn’t. The sky isn’t falling and West Virginia football will be back next week. If you are reading this article, the sun came up on Sunday. Now you have a night game to get ready for.