A View of Mountaineer Field from the Goodyear Blimp
Next Up: At Iowa State this Saturday at Noon on FOX Sports 1
Worse than all this the tailback that I believed would be a potential 1000 yard rusher has become a “China Doll” that cannot play more than 3 quarters without sitting out the next 3 games with some sort of physical ailment. Talent simply cannot be judged if you cannot get on the football field. This season that seemed so promising about a month ago with the Mountaineers sitting at 6-2 and nationally ranked with a signature victory over the #4 Baylor Bears and looking very much like a team that just might compete for the Big 12 Conference Championship, it was all there for them with the tough games against TCU and Kansas State at home and what appeared to be very winnable games against Texas and Iowa State on the road. This team was set up to potentially finish the season 10-2 and outright Big 12 champions with an outside shot at a playoff berth.
And just 3 games later……………………We are looking at 6-5 football team in the middle of another late season swoon that could see them even lose this Saturday in Ames Iowa for back to back losses to the lowly Iowa State Cyclones. I don’t really see that happening but it certainly is possible when you have a team that has completely lost its way on offense. Let’s look at the worst and best case scenarios shall we.
The worst case scenario would be losing to Iowa State, getting invited to the low rent “AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl” in Houston Texas and losing there to finish 6-7 ending the season with 5 consecutive losses and trying to tell ourselves the program is trending in the right direction!!! Now the best case scenario would have the Mountaineers beating Iowa State to finish 7-5 and get invited to the slightly better Liberty Bowl in Memphis Tennessee that would be a much easier get to for the West Virginia faithful than another trip to Texas. They could also get the Russell Athletic bowl in Orlando Florida which pays out at least $2,275,000 and of course Orlando is a great vacation destination. Of course if WVU would win the Bowl and finish 8-5 with a nice bowl trip for everyone it would certainly be considered a pretty good step up from a 4-8 2013 season.
As for this game, it was another example of a home game that should have been won against a team that certainly could have and should have been beaten. In the past three seasons there have been so many close losses that it is getting to be a broken record, coming up just a bit short is becoming too much of a habit for the Mountaineers, this game was the same it was just a bit different how they got there.
The game started out like K-State might have yet another easy victory over the Mountaineers. After WVU could not move the football on their opening possession a 44 yard Nick O’Toole was returned 23 yards the Wildcats Tyler Lockett to midfield and the Cats promptly drove 50 yards on 8 plays and took a 7-0 lead on a 7 yard TD pass from Jake Waters to DeMarcus Robinson. On the ensuing possession the EERs drove looked pretty good diving 69 yards on 11 plays until Wendell Smallwood fumbled the football at the Wildcat 2 yard line to end the drive and the first quarter would end at 7-0 K-State. The Wildcats would get a 36 yard field goal from Matthew McCrane on their first possession of the 2nd quarter to take a 10-0 lead and on their next possession West Virginia would go 44 yards on 12 plays and close the gap to 10-3 on a 47 yard Josh Lambert field goal and then the Mountaineers got the big break they needed on the ensuing kickoff when fumbled the ball at his own 22 yard line giving WVU a golden opportunity to tie the football game with any offensive success at all but instead the offense was well “offensive” and 4 plays later Lambert missed a 40 yard field goal and K-State still had their 7 point lead.
After trading punts the Wildcats would get on the board again when Tyler Lockett returned a Nick O’Toole punt 43 yards for a touchdown and with just 1:12 to go in the first half K-State grabbed the momentum and a 17-3 lead at the break. The 3rd quarter started with both teams again failing to move the ball on their opening possessions but the Wildcats would get on the board again with another Matt McCrane field goal, this one from 44 yards out and at the 9:29 mark of the third quarter K-State had a pretty imposing 20-3 lead in a game where the K-State offense really hadn’t done much but they had benefited from big special team plays and Mountaineer mistakes.
However…..The game would take a strange turn on the next Mountaineer possession when sophomore quarterback Skyler Howard suddenly appeared at quarterback. At the time I believed it was because Clint Trickett was flat out totally ineffective and on the previous possession he had tossed his 2nd interception of the game from the K-State 27 yard line which wasted yet another Mountaineer scoring chance. Later after the game coach Holgorsen would say that Trickett had suffered a concussion. I guess that’s a nice way of explaining why you pulled your quarterback in favor of a junior college transfer who had only appeared in on other game all season. Whatever the real reason the quarterback change clearly sparked the Mountaineer offense as Howard immediately led WVU 79 yards on 8 plays and closed the gap to 20-10 on a 7 yard TD pass to Kevin White. After trading punts the WVU special teams would again hurt the Mountaineers when Vernon Davis fumbled a punt at his own 17 yard line however the Mountaineer defense stiffened and K-State was forced to settle for a 3rd Matt McCrane field goal from 19 yards out and a 23-10 lead.
On the ensuing series Howard would drive the EERs offense 61 yards on 15 plays but the drive died when coach Holgorsen elected to go for it on 4th and 7 from the K-State 22 instead of taking what would have been a 38 yard josh lambert field goal that would have cut the lead to 23-13 early in the 4th quarter but instead it was just another missed opportunity. After a missed McCrane field goal Skyler Howard got the EERs back in the game with an 80 yard 6 play drive ending with a beautiful catch and run 53 yard TD pass to Mario Alford and with still 7:23 to play it was now a 6 point game 23-17. K-State would answer on their next possession driving 49 yards on 9 plays and more importantly taking 4: 31 minutes off the clock before settling for Matt McCrane’s 4th field goal of the game from 32 yards out and with just 2:52 remaining in the game the Wildcats had a 9 point lead. The EERs however would not go quietly and on the ensuing possession drove 46 yards to the K-State 8 yard line before settling for a 25 yard Josh Lambert field goal to cut the lead to 26-20 but with just 53 seconds to go K-State recovered Michael Molinari’s onside kick and ran out the clock handing the Mountaineers yet another home loss in a tight game that they could have won with just one or two more key plays made in this game. I never thought I would say this but it’s too bad coach Holgorsen didn’t go with Skyler Howard to start the second half it may have been more than enough time to win this football game. Instead the 2nd half swoon continued.
POSITIVES & NEGATIVES:
Negatives: Poor Special Teams plays including a punt return for a touchdown, poor play by Clint Trickett before he was replaced including two brutal interceptions and of course a couple of questionable decisions by the West Virginia coaching staff.
Positives: The unexpected confidence and strong play by Skyler Howard under very tough circumstances against a pretty good football team finishing with 198 yards and a pair of TDs. Mountaineer defense gives up 400 passing yards but just 1 yard on rushing on 29 carries. And the fact that they EERs never gave up on this very cold senior night and hung in there until the bitter end.
USA Today Coaches Poll
|Game Date||Game Time||Opponent/Location||Event||Televised||Game Score|
|08/30/14||3:30 PM|| Alabama
|Chick-fil-A Classic||ABC||West Virginia 23|
#2 Alabama 33
|09/06/14||7:30 PM|| Towson
|Non League Game||Root Sports||West Virginia 54|
College Park, MD
|Big Ten Network||West Virginia 40|
|09/20/14||7:30 PM|| Oklahoma
|Big 12 Game||FOX||West Virginia 33|
|10/04/14||4:00 PM|| Kansas
|Big 12 Game |
|FOX Sports Network||West Virginia 33|
|Big 12 Game||Fox Sports 1||West Virginia 37|
Texas Tech 34
|Big 12 Game||Fox Sports 1||West Virginia 41|
|10/25/14||3:30 PM||Oklahoma State
|Big 12 Game||ESPN||West Virginia 34|
Oklahoma St 10
|11/01/14||3:30 PM||Texas Christian
|Big 12 Game||ABC||West Virginia 30
|Big 12 Game||FOX Sports 1||West Virginia 16|
|11/20/14||7:30 PM||Kansas State
|Big 12 Game |
|FOX Sports1||West Virginia 20|
Kansas St 26
|Big 12 Game||FOX Sports 1||West Virginia |
||TBD||TBD||West Virginia |