I think this was the best game for Howard, Shell and Durante.
You may not realize it but the game Howard played was outstanding. The toughest part of the game for quarterbacks who love throwing deep is the requirement to march down the field time after time. Taking check downs is equivalent to driving 60 MPH on the interstate. Plenty of big time, professional quarterbacks have gotten antsy when forced to take the check down because they want to throw deep and then thrown an interception. Howard didn’t do that Saturday. He stayed within the defense and took the open throws. It worked as BYU eventually had to bring the defense up and then Howard could hit Shelton Gibson deep.
Rushel Shell played his best game as a Mountaineer. He was patient as a runner, allowing the offensive line to block. He was decisive when making cuts and deciding to lower a shoulder. He even caught a swing pass with two guys in the open field AND MADE THEM BOTH MISS! Shell doesn’t have the quickness of McCoy or Crawford but he has power. He won’t always make the flashy plays but he can be the guy who churns out 3 and 4 yard chunks and gets those tough yards. He is the guy who should have gotten the ball on 4th and inches.
Jovon Durante was a playmaker. Flat out the coaches finally figured out how to use the talented sophomore. They quit asking Durante to block on wide receiver screens and started throwing the screens to him. Despite being tall and lanky, Durante has some unbelieveable quickness about him. He caught nearly everything Howard threw to him and gained yards after the catch.
I think the 3-3-5 is great, except against power runs
When word came out a couple of years ago that Tony Gibson was going to transition the team back to the 3-3-5 that was so successful for them during the early 2000s, I thought it was the perfect defense in the Big 12. When your base defense has 5 defensive backs, then it isn’t tough to defend spread passing teams.
What is hard only 6 men in the box is to defend power running teams. Fortunately for WVU, there are very few strong powerful running teams in the Big 12. They will face one next week in Kansas State and will face one in November with Texas. Outside of those two teams, the rest of the league prefers to throw the ball. Oklahoma seems to forget they have Perine and wants to let Baker Mayfield win the day. Still, giving up 280 yards to BYU was tough to watch and brought back memories of Oklahoma 2014 when Samaje Perine first made his mark.
I think this offense can do some special things this year
If you are a defensive coordinator, West Virginia has to make you sweat. The offensive line is loaded with seniors and experienced players and has been giving Skyler Howard time to throw. West Virginia has a power running back in Shell and Wellman. They have two shifty speedy backs in McCoy and Crawford.
Then those receivers! Durante looks like the light turned on for him. Shelton Gibson dares you to cover him one on one. Ka’Raun White every week gives me flashbacks to 2014 and his brother running over, around and through defenses. Daikel Shorts is going to catch about 200 first downs this year. How do you defend all of these playmakers?
I think the team needs to stay hungry
When the team scored to make it 35-19, everyone, including the players felt that was the knockout punch. A big credit goes to BYU for not letting up. They drove down the field and scored. A quick three and out and the game got interesting. Dana tried to tell and instill to the team that they needed to stay hungry. Hopefully this was the wakeup call for them. You can’t let up.
The Big 12 is in shambles this year. Every couple of years, West Virginia is presented with an opportunity to put its stamp on the Big 12. In 2012, the team rode high following wins over Baylor and Texas before the lack of defensive depth finally caught up to the team. In 2014, with ESPN College Gameday in town, a defensive miscue allowed TCU to escape with a win. What followed was a total emotional let down. That can’t happen this year. Everyone in the Big 12, including West Virginia is beatable. Now is the time to take the next step, if the team stays hungry and doesn’t let up.
I think this win is good....and bad
Brigham Young is a very good team. They are a very physically strong team. They are also 1-3. I’m honestly surprised the voters even gave us more votes just because we beat a 1-3 team in front of 38,000 people.
There is a real chance that BYU finishes the year around .500. They may or may not make a bowl game. Winning this game isn’t the same as beating the BYU teams that won 9 or 10 games in years past. At the same time, BYU is going to be one of the strongest teams that West Virginia faces and winning this game was not as easy as I am making it seem.
I think McCoy and Crawford are going to be special
I needed a good way to end this segment and what better than watching two of the newest Mountaineers do their thing. I just said BYU would be one of the strongest teams WVU played. Kennedy McCoy don’t care.
Justin Cawford has more moves than a Mortal Kombat character.