I think I’m not worried about special teams.....yet
Mike Molina isn’t the most accurate kicker (16/25 for his career) but I’m not worried about him just yet. Head coach Dana Holgorsen tends to agree, stating as much during his post-game press conference yesterday.
He’s pretty daggone consistent inside the forty. Unfortunately, he missed two outside the forty. There are going to be times where we need him to hit those. If it’s a game-winning thing, I’d like to think that we would do a better job of centering the ball with those deep kicks like that.
To me, that is important. Yes, Molina missed two kicks that he pushed. His angles have been off all season, but most football coaches, including Holgorsen, will set their kicker up in the best possible scenario for a game-winning try. Molina has proven he can hit a 50-yard field goal. He obviously has the talent to kick. I’m not worried yet but we do want to become more consistent. Six points could be the difference between a win and a loss in conference play.
I Think Marcus Simms is going to make a difference
One of the bigger regrets I have is that Shelton Gibson chose to leave a year early. While he was never a true number one receiver, his skill set was invaluable to the offense. The guy who can get behind corners and safeties allows offenses to become dangerous. Safeties have to play deeper, allowing the run game to flourish. Corners have to play certain techniques because a free release to the inside gives Shelton too much room to operate. Coverages are dictated by players like Shelton.
Enter Marcus Simms and his first touchdown of the season. He got deep. FAST.
Watch as he continues to pull away from the defender as he tracks the ball. That type of speed is elite. Simms’ play as a receiver isn’t the only way he is going to make a difference. Marcus was inserted as the kick returner and punt returner and did something West Virginia hasn’t in three years. He actually returned the football for positive yards.
After ECU drove down the field and kicked a field goal, Marcus took the ensuing kickoff and returned it to the 29. While a 29-yard return isn’t anything amazing, it gave West Virginia a bit of breathing room. Downing the kick in the endzone puts the ball at the 25. It also would have been the best field position for the Mountaineers against Virginia Tech.
Marcus followed up the kick return with the longest punt return for the Mountaineers in three years. The ECU punter, standing at his own 6 and kicking the ball from his own 10, nearly flipped the field. Simms starts at the West Virginia 40 and backtracks to the 25. Last year and against Virginia Tech, that returner is tackled almost immediately. Luckily, for Simms the punter outkicked his coverage and gave Simms 10 yards between him and the nearest defender. Simms is able to slip by a defender at the 30 and get the ball all the way up to the 46. As we saw against Virginia Tech, special teams hidden yardage can make or break a game.
I Think I’m glad the defense struggled in the 2nd half
When West Virginia scored on the wide open David Sills play right at the end of the half, I figured two things: ECU would be pissed that the Mountaineers were still trying to score that late in a game clearly in hand and the starters would rest in the entire second half. Dana said in his post-game presser that he specifically wanted to work on halftime. He wanted the players to have to make adjustments and come back and get that intensity going.
The plan failed. ECU was pissed but the starters took the entire second half off. Now I get it. Most of us, at some point in our sports life, have been in a position where you are clearly playing against inferior competition. You try hard for a while and eventually you do not give 100%.
East Carolina however continued to play hard. After the half, upon receiving the ball, ECU drove down the field and kicked a field goal. The Mountaineers went 3 and out as were trying to simply run the ball and go home. ECU refused to quit and scored a touchdown on the next drive. Suddenly, it was 49-13 and momentum was beginning to switch. Had ECU kicked it away and not tried for the onside kick, I think its entirely possible the offense continues to be lazy. The onside kick pissed everyone off and the offense put the death knell in. One more touchdown drive to show who was really boss. The defense was great in the first half and lazy in the second. It’s good they struggled because they need to know they can’t take a series off.
I Think fans need to grow up about Skyler Howard
Will Grier put on a highlight reel, but this was the highlight of my day, former WVU QB Skyler Howard getting heckled mercilessly by fans... pic.twitter.com/aZGBANzxCL— Ryan Stamski (@ryan_stamski2) September 9, 2017
A) The highlight of your day is a former Mountaineer quarterback being heckled? GTFOH.
B) Bitching about Howard “wasting” two-years when he led the team to 10-wins. STFU.
C) West Virginia fans love to claim “Once a Mountaineer, Always a Mountaineer”. That doesn’t apply to only great players. That doesn’t apply to only inspirational players. It applies to each and every player who chooses to wear the Old Gold and Blue. It includes players like Pacman Jones, who has a penchant for trouble. It includes players like DJ Carozza who may never see the field for the team. And it absolutely includes players like Skyler Howard.
D) Howard should be lauded by WVU fans. When I put up the article about “Best Quarterback in Mountaineer History”, many fans asked me why I didn’t include Jeff Hostetler or Jake Kelchner. Hostetler beat Oklahoma in 1982 and won a Super Bowl, they would say. Kelchner led the team to an undefeated season in 1993 they would say.
Howard led the team to 10-wins. He received 0 Division 1 offers and went to junior college. He took over for an injured Clint Trickett. He led the Mountaineers to 8 and then 10 wins. He threw for over 7,000 yards in his career. Howard had his flaws but honestly, if you are going to heckle and badmouth a former player, at a home game, you aren’t a true Mountaineer.
I Think the whole “Oklahoma, and the Big 12 are back in the playoffs” is a bunch a hooey.
Hey I’m glad Ohio State lost. Those guys are annoying and pretentious and arrogant. Baker Mayfield is the same. I’m glad Oklahoma beat OSU in Ohio because it gives the Big 12 a signature win that it lacked last season. I don’t think you can pencil in the Big 12 to the playoffs just yet.
When Big 12 conference play starts, if #2 _____ beats #1 Oklahoma, in the conference championship game, will the playoff committee really reward #2? Last season we saw the committee insert Ohio State into the playoffs despite not winning their division or conference. We’ve seen the committee use the championship game as a reason to deny both TCU and Baylor because “we had an extra data point”. I hope the Big 12 puts a team in the playoffs but recent history suggests the playoff committee will find a reason not to.