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What I Think After The Same Old West Virginia Shows Up Again

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The pattern of start fast, slow down, and then...is repeating itself.

Kansas v West Virginia Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

The Running Back Flares

I absolutely love the fact that we flared out a running back twice for a touchdown. When teams are dropping seven men in coverage, you need to be able to take advantage of the easy yards that present themselves.

On the first touchdown of the game, the Jayhawks were in Cover 3 and dropped into quarters coverage. Leddie Brown crosses the center and catches the safety watching the wide receiver. This allowed Brown to get to the corner and score.

On Pettaway’s touchdown, it was just a brilliant play call. Spavital brought the receiver tight to the line and Kansas chose to play 9 men in the box. When Pettaway flared out, the linebacker responsible for him got caught in the wash giving Martell a clear run to the endzone. I love the way Spavital is calling plays to attack and freeze defenses.

Dana Should Have Been Ejected

Not in the way you might be thinking. In what could be Will’s Heisman moment, or at least a brilliant highlight in his career at West Virginia, Grier is flushed when the line again fails to contain the Kansas defensive line. Grier rolls to his right and then is grabbed around his jersey but slips out of the tackle. Grier continues to keep his eyes downfield, then decides to tuck the ball and picks up the first down before sliding to the ground. After Grier is completely down and has slid a full two yards, two Kansas players sandwich Will while he is on the ground, ripping his helmet off in the process. No flag.

Several West Virginia players raised their hands to question where the flag was, including Grier. Dana was livid. He chewed the refs out. Grier was forced to sit out one play for losing his helmet. I commend Dana because had it been me, I would have broken 5 headsets then and there and the refs would have had to throw me out. I would not have stopped. The lack of a call there was total horse manure.

Penalties

The refs the last two weeks have been calling much tighter games and as a result, West Virginia has seen a number of penalties. West Virginia was called for 7 penalties, including a defensive delay of game penalty for simulating the snap count. On the season, the Mountaineers have committed 38 penalties, losing 349 yards. This puts West Virginia at 100 in penalties per game.

Against Texas Tech last week, penalties helped derail multiple drives in the second half, putting the offense behind the chains and stalling out. Coming up is Iowa State who is rarely called for penalties. You can be ripe for an upset if you give away free yardage.

Y’all Need To Chill

This is what I see nearly every week. Fans get hyped for the game, thinking that because Will Grier is such a great player and quarterback that we should be scoring on every drive. They then watch ESPN College Gameday and watch Kirk Herbstreit or Lee Corso or other pickers choose Texas Tech or someone else and not West Virginia. Then they claim the national media doesn’t respect the team and get all #MadOnline.

So yesterday the team finally failed to score on their trips to the redzone. They were 15/15 coming into the game but Grier threw three redzone interceptions. Despite all of the inefficiencies on display Saturday, West Virginia has still scored 20 times on 23 drives inside the redzone. Of those 20 scores, 17 have been touchdowns. That puts WVU 30th nationally, yet many people were ready to jump off the bandwagon. You want respect for the team but the minute the team isn’t perfect you are careening down a cliff. Stop it. The national media doesn’t respect West Virginia because they haven’t shown themselves to be a true player for the title. You know that but you want them to give it to you but the minute the team struggles, you wanna jump off? Stop it.

The team has things to fix. Everyone knows it but it is better to get those struggles out against Kansas than it is to have your worst offensive showing against Texas or Oklahoma.

This Defense

Over the past three weeks the offense has turned the ball over eight times. The defense has gained seven turnovers in that stretch. Against Kansas State to open Big 12 play, Will Grier threw two interceptions and Leddie Brown fumbled. Jack Allison threw a garbage time interception with 4:15 left to play and the Mountaineers up 35-6. Kansas State scored all of 3 points off all of those turnovers.

The opening series Will Grier threw an interception. The defense held strong and forced a punt by the Wildcats. The very next possession, the Mountaineers fumbled when running back Leddie Brown was hit. K-State again punted. Three series later when the offense missed a field goal, the defense forced K-State to turn the ball over on downs. With the score 35-3, the Wildcats picked off Will Grier again and were able to get a field goal after starting at the WV 39, putting them almost in field goal range immediately.

Vice versa, the Mountaineers forced one turnover against the Wildcats, a fumble by running back Justin Silmon. The Mountaineers converted that into a touchdown.

Against Kansas, the defense proved to be even more opportunistic. Kansas fumbled on their opening possession, the Mountaineers turned that into a Leddie Brown receiving touchdown. Following another Brown touchdown, Kansas was picked off. West Virginia drove down the field but was picked off in the endzone. Kansas was able to convert that into a touchdown. The following possession, Will Grier was again picked off in the endzone but the defense stiffened and intercepted the ball right back. Grier drove the team down the field and was again picked off in the endzone. That interception ended the first half.

Kansas would score to open the 2nd half and West Virginia would fumble. The defense stiffened and forced a Jayhawk punt. Three series later, WVU would punt the ball and Kansas would muff the punt. The Mountaineers converted this to a field goal.

In the first three conference games, the offense has turned the ball over eight times. The defense has allowed the opposing team to score just twice, resulting in 10 points. The defense has taken the ball away 7 times, resulting in 31 points. Good teams turn you over. Great teams make turnovers result in points. In conference play, if you turn the ball over against WVU, it is worth more than a fieldgoal (4.4 points).