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Pinto's Points: Takeaways From West Virginia’s Unnecessarily Close 38-36 Win Over Baylor

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The Mountaineers actually played pretty well for about 45 minutes on Saturday, but apparently learned nothing about taking your foot off the gas from their own 4th quarter heroics the week before. Either way, a win's a win.

WVU sports

Well that was fun, right? Oh, it wasn't? Is there a certain amount of time that has to pass before PTSD is a thing? Because about halfway through that 4th quarter all I could think about was the Texas Tech game the week before, and how terrifyingly similar the situations were. It raised in me a cacophony of emotions - anguish because of what was happening, confusion about why it was happening, frustration that our guys weren't doing anything to prevent it, despair that they were unable to do anything to prevent it, and even a twinge of guilt for putting Texas Tech fans through the same thing the week before.

When it was all said and done we were 38-36 winners, but my God that was brutal.

Tackling has to improve

I don't know if we've just been spoiled by watching guys like Karl Joseph and Nick Kwiatkoski over the last few years or what, but man it seems like we're really having trouble putting guys on the ground this year. I lost count of how many times Saturday we had guys bottled up for no gain or even a loss, only to let them wiggle forward for a couple yards. There's a problem with that in and of itself, but it's even more concerning when you consider we haven't even played the two best offenses on our schedule yet.

We can't afford any of those errors this weekend with James Washington, Justice Hill, and the rest of Oklahoma State coming to town. Those two guys are the conference leaders in receiving and rushing yards respectively by fairly comfortable margins and both are excellent in space; they're more than capable of hitting home runs on us if we don't swarm them and put them down.

Following that we have Iowa State and David Montgomery, who just so happens to lead the conference in forced missed tackles. Then there's Kansas State, Texas, and Oklahoma. What I'm saying is, our 5-2 record looks nice, but it does not get any easier for us defensively from here on out.

Trying to put Grier and Sills into context

We're running out of words to describe what these two are doing every week, so instead I'm going to try to give their numbers some historical context. Let's start with Will.

His numbers on Saturday: 26/37, 375 yards, 5 TD, 0 INT, 10.1 YPA. Absolutely unfathomable for most, but just another day at the office for BFG. It was his second 5-touchdown game on the trot (he's the first in school history to do that) and third overall, bringing his season total to 26, 3 clear of second place nationally. Overall, he's on pace for 4229 yards and 45 touchdowns, which would be objectively the best season a quarterback has ever had here and probably one of the 15-20 best seasons ever.

And despite all that, Sills has somehow been even better. Saturday was his third hat-trick and sixth multi-touchdown game, giving him 15 TDs on the season, and with second place still stuck in single digits it's looking likely that the 26 he's on pace for may end up lapping the field. Let that sink in for a minute.

By the way, the list of people who have caught more than 26 touchdowns in a single season? Troy Edwards in 1998. And that's it. 26 touchdowns would tie him with Randy Moss for second most all-time, which is fitting because that's who he resembles when he's skying over yet another hapless defensive back.

A lot can get lost in the weeds over the course of a season, especially with stuff like Saturday's 4th quarter happening, but I hope everyone is able to take a step back and appreciate that we're being treated to one of the most prolific QB-WR seasons in the history of college football.

The Sills-Simms combo is absolutely slaying

Football is an easy sport to watch at a superficial level, where you simply see team A gain 5 yards and then move on to the next play without ever thinking about how or why they were able to do it. However, like all sports football is a game of matchups - it's a constantly evolving chess match where your goal is to figure out what you can do to your opponents to get them out of their comfort zone. For example, have you noticed that every team we've played this year has tried some version of that jet motion BS? That's because everybody saw VT give us trouble with it and now they all want to make us prove that we can stop it.

With all that in mind, I'd like everybody to watch three of our touchdowns from Saturday:

Notice anything? The section header may have given it away, but all three came from a nearly identical formation with Sills and Simms paired closely together on the left side.

This alignment has led to number of nice plays for us this year, and it works so well because both guys command the defense's respect, albeit for different reasons. Sills is clearly just awesome at football, while Simms is usually the fastest person on the field at any given time (seriously, how fast do you have to be to run away from a D1 cornerback after stumbling out of a spin move with almost no headstart?). It's a nice mix of skill sets, and is clearly something that's given opposing defenses problems this year. Hopefully we can continue to take advantage of it.

Kennedy McKoy needs the rock

I'm not sure what's been going on with our running game over the last few weeks, but one of the few bright spots has undoubtedly been Kennedy McKoy. He's only averaging about 8 carries and 50 yards per game, but has consistently provided a spark when we've needed one and has arguably been our most effective runner over the last two weeks. Might be time to look at getting him a few more touches, especially if it helps keep Crawford healthy and rested for the stretch run.

Final Thoughts

I could really do without anymore of those this year. My Saturday eating and drinking habits are already inflicting enough damage without having to gut out heart attacks like that. Please and thank you, team. On to Oklahoma State.