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What I Think After West Virginia’s Closer Than Necessary Win Over Texas Tech

The hare raced out to a 28-point first quarter then crawled to the finish line past the tortoise

West Virginia v Texas Tech Photo by John Weast/Getty Images

That first quarter

Hoo boy that was some fun, wasn’t it? We waited four games to watch the Mountaineers put together a fast start and they got it on Saturday. Will Grier came out throwing and throwing some heat. Grier ended up completing 13 of 17 passes for 198 yards, in just the first 15 minutes of football. That was enough to put Texas Tech on their heels and you could see the Red Raiders pressing.

Grier opened eyes and earned himself a SportsCenter highlight with his dime of a throw to Marcus Simms. That throw was a NFL caliber throw that works as a Heisman highlight. It was exactly what Grier and the Mountaineers needed.

The complacency

This has been something that happens to nearly every good but not great college football team and the Mountaineers are certainly no stranger to the phenomenon. West Virginia went into halftime up 35-10. They failed to score again on offense the entire second half.

First, the offense only ran 25 plays in the second half. Of those 25 plays, 16 were pass attempts. So the coaches didn’t get conservative or start calling run plays. The Mountaineers simply shot themselves in the foot at the most inopportune moment in each drive.

Following back to back punts by TTU, the Mountaineers mounted a drive and started to look like they were going to pick up where they left off in the first half. On 2nd and 9, Grier overthrew Marcus Simms badly in the endzone. Simms had four yards on his defender and a normal Grier throw puts 7 on the board. The ‘Eers would go on to miss a field goal on that drive.

On the next drive, Pettaway lost three yards on first down then center Matt Jones was flagged for a false start, putting the offense in a hole at 2nd and 13. WVU would punt.

The next drive, on 3rd and 3, Grier found Jennings that would have been a first down but Josh Sills was called for holding. Grier was then sacked when Tech brought the house.

What I took away from this game was that the offense was unable to fix itself if it got behind the chains but is basically unstoppable when it controls the chains.

First Down Plays

Speaking of controlling the chains, the team faced 32 plays on first down. They gained 283 yards on those 32 plays, an average of 8.8 yards per play on first down. That means on average the team was looking at 2nd and short 2. Having that sort of offensive efficiency allows the team to control both the line of scrimmage and the tempo of the game. When you can put the defense on the heels on the first play, you can do whatever you want offensively.

The penalties

If I am frustrated about anything on this win, it is the amount of penalties the team accrued. Specifically, what I call stupid penalties. Kenny Robinson picks off a pass at the end of half and I assume gets a 15-yard celebration penalty (Unsportsmanlike) that pushes the team out of field goal range.

The viral video of Yodny Cajuste and Eli Howard boxing. Yeah, Howard swung first then Yodny reacted, avoided the reaction by Howard and shadow-danced. It looks funny because of Yodny, but both teams received personal foul penalties. Just stupid penalties.

The Norwood targeting penalty I am unsure about. By the letter of the law, they got it right but I think that Norwood intended to hit him with his shoulder and forearm. He was just too high. But too many dumb penalties almost allowed this one to get away from us.

You Should Really Enjoy This Win

According to Jed Drenning, this is only the 7th time in team history that it has earned a conference victory on the road while the opponent was ranked.

That is simply amazing and astonishing. Enjoy this win, they don’t happen often and this win earned West Virginia a top ten ranking.

We Passed a Big Test And Now Get a Break

Say what you want, but the fact that we just got ranked in the top ten has a way of bringing out the anxiety of WVU fans. Just about the time we start to think we’re good, the team gets ranked high and we fall flat on our face. I doubt the team takes Kansas lightly but it certainly is a nice week to not play the toughest team in conference.