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What I Think After Ten Wins

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The Mountaineers didn’t put away Baylor but TEN WIN ACHIEVEMENT!

NCAA Football: Baylor at West Virginia Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

I think I’m proud to be a Mountaineer

Skyler Howard is introduced to the loudest ovation on Senior Day for #WVU

A video posted by Geoff Coyle (@gfcoyle) on

Skyler has had his ups and downs here at West Virginia. He’s not the best quarterback we’ve ever had but he certainly is going to go down in the record books as one of the most prolific. Solidly third all time in career passing yards, Skyler only played two-plus seasons here in Morgantown. He has a chance with a solid bowl game to finish with the third best single season passing mark, bested by only Geno Smith’s two 4,000+ yard seasons. Skyler let the fans know he’s heard the boos and he’s focused too much on that rather than the cheers. It was Senior Day at WVU and Skyler received the loudest cheer. That makes me proud. Hopefully with a bowl win, Skyler and the fans can look back on the last 19 wins as a remarkable achievement for a player who desperately wanted to play Division 1 football.

I think the team is missing YAC yards

One thing that seems to be missing from the offense is that receiver catching a 5-10 yard pass and streaking down the field. I can remember Daikel Shorts catching a crossing route against Texas Tech and getting 50 yards. Ka’Raun White took a slant route for a touchdown and Jennings did that against Baylor but there hasn’t been a ton of YAC.

Catch and runs affect the defense by bringing the defense up. The safeties then are playing tighter which allows us to hit those big plays. Under Skyler, the team has been more reliant, more dependent on throwing deep. It is fun to throw deep but as you saw against Baylor, against Oklahoma, teams are willing to set safeties back and keep everything in front of you. When they are able to limit catch yardage to where the receivers controls the ball and no further, it can be extremely difficult to hit to those chunk plays. I hope another year in the system for the receivers will allow them to catch the short stuff and gain 15-20 yards instead of 4-7.

I think Tony Gibson has done work

From a team that played so many freshman in 2012 and sophomores in 2013, the work Gibson has done the last three years has been amazing. The 3-3-5 is a great defense for the Big 12 at this time, because so many coordinators are focusing on spreading out defenses and throwing the football. The defense is going to be a problem against Oklahoma, who has the ability to run the ball downhill against undermanned fronts. It will likely cause the games against Kansas State, as long as Bill Snyder runs the show, to be closer than they should be. It still presents problems for quarterbacks. Especially quarterbacks who have never seen it before.

I think the fans and the team just wanted Baylor over

I was never really super worried about Baylor. When they went up 14-3 my feelings were “Gonna need to do something but don’t panic”. Going into halftime down 14-10 was a good place to be. Just needed one score to get ahead and then I felt we would begin to control the game. A lot of credit goes to Baylor for not quitting. Zach Smith is one of the better Texas quarterbacks, having thrown for over 10,000 yards as a high schooler with 113 touchdowns. He might be young but the new Baylor coaches will at least have someone who they can build around.

The defense came to play against Baylor but the offense seemed ready to milk the clock as soon as they got the lead. A lot of credit goes to Baylor for not quitting. Once the team got up 24-14, I really thought Baylor would pack in the bags. They never did and West Virginia seemed really conservative after gaining a 10-point lead. Lucky for West Virginia, blocks in the back are now reviewable on onside kicks otherwise, who knows where this game ends.

I think Dana’s contract is great but now comes the real work

During and immediately following the Baylor game, it was announced that head coach Dana Holgorsen had signed a contract extension through the 2021 season. In reality, this is a 4 year extension because no coach coaches on a one-year deal. You either extend the coach at the one-year remaining mark or you fire them. Lame duck coaches kill recruiting.

Dana absolutely earned this contract extension. He entered the season 36-28 as a head coach and turned that into 46-30. 16 games above .500 with a winning percentage of .657 now places him ahead of Don Nehlen and Bobby Bowden in winning percentage.

The details leaking out about the extension are: Dana will make $3.5 million next year and receive a $100,000 increase each of the first three years. He will receive a $200,000 bonus in the final year to make his total salary $4,000,000. The total value of the contract is 18.5 million without additional incentives like: win bonuses, bowl game bonus and bowl game win bonuses.

The buyout, which I felt could be a big sticking point between Lyons and Holgorsen has been finalized.

Should the school fire Holgorsen after the 2017 season, it would owe him more than $11 million. After the 2018 season, the buyout drops to around $8.1 million. Should he be dismissed during the final three years of the contract, WVU would owe him up to $6.9 million.

If Holgorsen leaves for another job, he would owe West Virginia between $1 million and $3 million depending on his departure date.

Now comes the hard part. Many fans knew that transitioning to the Big 12 would require patience. We were not a deep team when we left the Big East and learning the style of play in the Big 12 was going to be different. It would take time to develop a new identity. Tavon and Geno and Stedman gave us hope that we could jump in feet first but we quickly learned that defense was needed. Now the team is balanced on both sides of the ball. There are still warts with this team and one season won’t make those warts go away. Dana is 22-23 in the Big 12. The team hasn’t beaten a ranked team since beating Baylor in 2014. That is a streak of 7-straight ranked teams that have beaten WVU, including 4 in Morgantown. Those numbers have to improve. The redzone offense has to improve. Recruiting needs to step up. Backsliding into 7-5 isn’t going to cut it. I don’t expect 10 win seasons every year and fans who do are not realistic. WVU has never been that team. However, 8-9 wins annually are going to need to be the norm. Dana and his staff will need to avoid the reloading year as much as possible, though one every 10 years isn’t unheard of. Missing a bowl game more than once a decade cannot happen. The team needs to be in position to challenge for a Big 12 title game. Dana and his staff have proven they have the ability to win in the Big 12 when it was down, now they need to prove they can continue to win in the Big 12.

I think this was the greatest weekend

The women’s soccer team played for a NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP after beating North Carolina 1-0 on Friday. The men’s basketball team beat Virginia, in Charlottesville, for their first true road win over a top-ten team since 1957 with Jerry West. The football team won 10 games. You couldn’t ask for a greater weekend to be a Mountaineer.