I Think you guys, the fans, were outstanding
S/O to the fans that stayed to fight with us till the very end.... Yall are the real mountaineers, Yall are who we do it for— Juice Hefner (@JuiceBenton) October 14, 2017
If you stayed throughout the game on Saturday, you earned yourself a gold star. The way the team was playing was not very good. The defense just could not generate a stop and the offense was sputtering. It would provide a spark here and there but it was only a speed bump as Texas Tech boat raced out to a 28-17 halftime lead. Two drives into the second half and Tech opened up a 35-17 lead and things looked bleak. But you fans stayed and provided a loud, boisterous atmosphere on Homecoming that helped prove to be the difference. Late in the game as the Mountaineers began closing in, 3rd down was brutal for quarterback Nic Shimonek. That is the kind of stuff that makes Morgantown hell to play in. The way it should be.
I think some of those plays looked familiar
Did some of you have flashbacks during the game because I know I did. Ka’Raun White’s amazing touchdown looked just like his older brother Kevin’s against Alabama.
David Sill’s two point conversion was the same play as Jovon Durante’s game-winning catch against Kansas State
And then Ka’Raun White and David Sills both scored on slant routes. Sometimes you are just so good that talent overcomes and talent overcame in this game.
I Think these receivers are really good
According to John Antonik of WVUSports.com, West Virginia has already drawn 10 pass interference penalties this season, or about 1/3rd of the amount that Baylor was called for in their game against the Mountaineers in 2014.
The Red Raider secondary was called for five pass interference penalties, three on one drive alone, and probably could have had more called on them. For anyone with both eyes open watching last weekend's TCU game, that was also clearly the case. The soon-to-be, top-five Horned Frogs were just as bad as the Red Raiders were in trying to slow down West Virginia's receivers, getting called for four pass interference penalties and one defensive holding call. Two weeks before that, Kansas was also flagged for a pass interference call which makes 10 PIs against the Mountaineers in their last three games. That bears repeating: 10 pass interference penalties in the last three games. A team can go a couple of years without drawing that many pass interference calls.
That is amazing. This group of pass catches is so diverse that you just can’t defend one or two guys. Who are you going to double, David Sills? Double Sills, because all he does is catch touchdowns and Gary Jennings is going to eat you alive across the middle. Decide to double both Sills and Jennings and White is going to outjump and outmuscle you for a touchdown. Marcus Simms showed great versatility in his ability to run both the deep go route and comeback routes. His catch in the first quarter where he took a simple curl route and spun it around for 30 yards is the type of things that win ballgames.
I Think this game was bigger than you imagine
For one, it was the first win over a ranked team since October 18, 2014. That was a span of 38 collegiate games, 1,093 calendar days and 9 consecutive losses to ranked teams. More importantly than the duration of the game is how West Virginia won. It wasn’t just that they came back, they came back as Justin Crawford, Kennedy McKoy and Martell Pettaway were held in check.
That note is important. In years past, if you really wanted to stymie an Air Raid team, you put your front four in run protection and dropped 7. This clogged as many passing lanes as possible. If you had an athletic front, you could limit the run which took away so many options for Air Raid teams. The last time that West Virginia won a game where it rushed for less than 100 yards was the 31-21 win against Maryland in 2012. To be able to at least take some pressure off the quarterback and receivers, your running game has to produce. Not a lot, but enough to keep the defense honest.
Give Texas Tech credit. They came into the game with this moniker of an improved defense, yet when I looked at them on paper, I kept thinking to myself, “Just because you were awful last year and now you improved to a bottom tier defense, that doesn’t mean you are good. Improvement =/= good”. Tech was good on Saturday. They played physical, they played with intent and they tackled. They clogged running lanes and sacked Will Grier 4 times. They did what they needed to do to win. Spavital, Grier and the receivers simply got hot and found a way to score touchdowns when they needed them most.
The other thing to note is the pre-game “activities” that started between Texas Tech and WVU. Oklahoma pulled that shit last year. Other teams have done it in the past when they come to Morgantown. Teams have proven they can get in the Mountaineers head by going out to midfield and pushing the ‘Eers around before the game. It sorta worked as the defense couldn’t stop the Red Raiders and the offense was hit or miss.
One of the things about being bullied is that you focus more on your tormenter than your job. Winning this game proved that WVU is able to overlook and move past that stuff because if you can’t, I guarantee you that other teams are going to do it too. They will come out and get in your head and take you out of your game. You can push back all you want but when the game starts you need to be in game mode, not “F*%^ that guy” mode.
I Think you can break that RED ZONE FUTILITY HORN now
The WVU offense leads the Big 12 (and ranks No. 8 nationally) with a Red Zone Touchdown percentage of 79.3 ... Boy that's fun to say.— Jed Drenning (@TheSignalCaller) October 15, 2017
One of the biggest complaints the past few years with Dana has been the inability to score when the team reaches the redzone. Settling for three points has hurt this team in the past years. You can make an argument last year that against Oklahoma State, despite the turnovers, West Virginia could have been in position to win that game if they are scoring 7 points instead of three.
Last year we scored 81% of the time we reached the redzone (touchdowns and field goals). This year we are up to 86%. We are averaging 5.4 touchdowns per game after averaging 3.8 last year. Currently we are averaging 41 points per game after averaging 30 last year. 30 PPG was good for 48th nationally. 41 ppg is good for 8th nationally.
I Think let’s talk refs
Generally speaking, a game that features 25 accepted penalties is too much. There were several calls that were ticky-tack and then a subsequent makeup call. I am a firm believer that makeup calls are bullshit and if you are a ref, just admit to yourself you made a bad call in the heat of the moment and move on. Don’t call something else to make it up. It is what it is.
That said, Tech tried to pull a Baylor. They were getting roasted. In WVU’s two losses, the defensive backs played physical and the refs let the teams play. I typically think that is the right call. Sorry Tech, your DBs were getting blown by and the only way to stop it is to grab.
Now, I prefer we never see this referee crew again. I want a game to ebb-and-flow, not stop and start because the referee needs to make himself known to the home crowd.
*Note: I will be on vacation next week so there will not be an article regarding Baylor. In the meantime, enjoy the articles this week and let us know your thoughts. See you guys in two weeks for OSU*