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What I Think About West Virginia Getting Back On Track

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That was needed in the worst way

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

Thursday Night Games

To be honest, Thursday night games remind me of the old Big East. Some of y’all might like that but I honestly don’t want anything to do with that former conference. Playing on Thursday was just another reminder of that time when we had to struggle for legitimacy. We argued about if we were even qualified to make a BCS bowl game and whether or not we would lose our BCS qualifications.

Saturday’s are for college football and I want to play on Saturday’s. Leave the Thursday night games for the American, the ACC or some other mid-level conference.

Getting Right

Thank goodness we played as well as we did, because the pitchforks would have taken to the streets. This is the type of win that everyone needed. Will Grier needed to get back to his magical place of dropping dimes into receivers arms. David Sills and Gary Jennings needed to get back to catching the ball and making plays.

Not everything was rosy but this was a start. We needed to go into Texas feeling good about ourselves. We needed to go in with some swagger and we did just that.

Third Downs

West Virginia converted just one of ten third down opportunities. This is bad. Baylor is 82nd in the nation in 3rd down conversion allowance, allowing their opponents to convert over 40% of their third downs. We are 25th in the nation in 3rd down conversions, converting 44% of our third downs. Hopefully this means that it was just a blip and not the start of a trend. We mitigated a lot of that by simply converting on 2nd down but this game saw a trend of our third downs being long.

We failed to convert: 3rd and 10, 3rd and 8, 3rd and Goal (8), 3rd and 10, 3rd and 10, 3rd and 10, 3rd and 3, 3rd and 5. Being behind the chains is how West Virginia gets off track and finds ways to make a game close. We have to be better.

The Run Game

As a team, we ran 33 times for 172 yards with a healthy 5.2 average. That should be good. A close look reveals that over 100 yards came on two plays: Tevin Bush’s 79 yard scamper and Martell Pettaway’s 33 yard run. That’s 112 yards on two plays, meaning the remaining 31 plays only gained 60 yards. Even if you take out Grier’s 3 runs (for negative 7 yards) , Jack Allison’s failed option run and the team kneel down, that is still 26 runs for 68 yards, 2.6 YPC. That isn’t going to get it done.

Jalan McClendon

If you told me at the beginning of the game that the defense would play so well that Charlie Brewer would have been replaced, I would have told you that this game would have been a nailbiter at the end. A year ago, West Virginia kickstarted the Charlie Brewer era at Baylor, when Matt Rhule inserted the freshman to give his team a spark. It worked as Brewer was a failed two-point attempt away from tying a game that at one point was 38-13. This year, Brewer, who apparently suffered a concussion, was removed from the game and Jalan McClendon was inserted. This is the exact scenario that West Virginia has found itself in where it has no answer and the game becomes closer than necessary.

West Virginia played brilliantly against the backup quarterback. who despite completing 16 of his 21 passes, did so for only 183 yards and no touchdowns. Even more impressive, McClendon ran 11 times but only gained 22 yards.