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What I Think After Smothering Missouri

The Mountaineers defensively stifled the offensively challenged Missouri Tigers and left me with some thoughts on the team.

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

Welcome to another year of Mountaineer football. It has been a long drought since the Motel 6 Cactus Bowl and everyone is anxious to get on with real football. Following the Mountaineers first win of the season, let’s dive right into what I thought about the game and the Mountaineers.

I think you got a glimpse of why Howard is the starter.

Skyler Howard has never really endeared himself to Mountaineer fans but if you saw the end of the second quarter, you got a glimpse of why Skyler has been the clear cut starter. Skyler, who took a shot to the ribs, exited with almost three minutes left in the half. Backup William Crest came in and two plays later fumbled as he attempted to throw the ball.

Not to be outdone, Chris Chuganov came in the next series. Chuganov handed off to Rushell Shell who rumbled for 7 yards. On the next play, Chuganov checked into a deep pass and heaved a throw into heavy traffic, which was intercepted by Anthony Sherrils.

At the half, Howard was 12-18 for 108 yards. He finished 23-35 for 253. The good news is that the completion percentage is where it needs to be. The receivers, specifically Jovon Durante need to make better adjustments on balls. Howard was still inconsistent on the crossing throws but at least some of that can be attributed to the rib injury he sustained. No matter what, fans should now understand why Howard is the clear cut starter. The offense is much better with him than without him this year.

I think Justin Crawford is better than advertised.

West Virginia took a 13-3 lead into halftime knowing it would receive the ball to start the second half. West Virginia drove down to the one-yard line and punched it in with Justin Crawford. Crawford was better than advertised for the Mountaineers in his first game. He lead all rushers with 101 yards while catching 5 passes.

Crawford demonstrated explosiveness. He showed shiftiness and the ability to cut on a dime. He showed soft hands and the ability to read the offensive line. Rushel Shell had himself a very good game and both backs complimented each other well. Much like last year, don’t be surprised to see Crawford have more carries at the end of the season.

I think Dana better figure out how to score in the redzone if he wants to coach Will Grier in 2017.

Five trips inside the redzone. Four fieldgoals. Missouri has a very good scoring defense. They were the #5 scoring defense in the country last year, allowing only 17.4 points per game. They were slightly above average in Redzone Scoring Perentage (54th). They only allowed 18 redzone touchdowns last year (47% efficiency), so scoring against them was going to be tough.

None of that is going to keep Dana employed if the team does not find a way to score more touchdowns when they get inside the 20, especially inside the 10. WVU scored 1 touchdown in five trips. They scored 33 redzone touchdowns in 58 attempts last year. Kansas State and Oklahoma State, the two most efficient teams in the redzone in the Big 12, were well over 60% in the redzone touchdown department.

If Dana wants to win more than 7 games in the regular season and coach the Mountaineers in 2017, he better find a way to score touchdowns in the redzone.

I think Missouri’s 462 total yards are very deceiving.

I know, I know, the defense can’t be any good because they gave up a late touchdown to an inept offense and they allowed 462 yards, right? Well not really. The defense, led by the last White brother, Kyzir, and senior Jeremy Tyler, kept Missouri out of West Virginia territory for the entire first quarter and did not yield until midway through the second quarter when a 42 yard pass from quarterback Drew Lock pushed the Tigers into WVU territory. This would be the only points the first string defense would yield.

With four minutes left in the game and the outcome secured, Tony Gibson and Dana Holgorsen chose to give the backups a chance to gain experience. The defensive backups yielded a 9-play, 80 yard drive for a touchdown and an 8-play, 48 yard drive that the Tigers turned over on downs. Those 128 yards yielded by the backups pushed the Tigers total offensive yards from 334 to 462.

I think I fear for Yodny Cajuste’s career.

Late last night, it was confirmed that Yodny Cajuste, West Virginia’s most talented lineman, had sustained a season ending knee injury against Missouri. This is the second knee injury for Yodny. He originally sustained a knee injury against Baylor last year that kept him out of the rest of the regular season. Yodny expected to lock down the left tackle position for the Mountaineers. Now, if Cajuste is able to rehab and come back from the injury, it will have been nearly 2 years since Yodny had played a meaningful game. He played sparingly against Arizona State in the Cactus Bowl. He was injured early in the game against the Tigers. Two years is a long time to not play football.

I think Tony Gibson and Dana Holgorsen are funny.

Some big guy named Booger, he said they’d score 30 today. If any of you guys can get hold of him and let him know that didn’t happen, I’d appreciate it. - Defensive Coordinator Tony Gibson

Just going to leave this right here.

I think Justin Arndt is a darn good ballplayer

From walkon to starter, Arndt is the epitome of hard work, dedication and Mountaineer spirit. He busted his tail to prove he belonged and Saturday made his first career start. Just to show how dedicate he was, Arndt sacked Drew Lock so hard he knocked him out of his shoe.