WVU’s Eastwood Impression

Say the phrase “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly” and it would be easy to think of Clint Eastwood.

But, say those same words around Mountaineer fans and they will be the first to tell you that they describe this year’s version of the old gold and blue following WVU’s first five games of the season.

All three were in play during Saturday’s upset of No. 11 Oklahoma State and, just like in the movie, The Good proved to win out in the end.

It doesn’t take long to discover The Good when it comes to West Virginia. Keith Patterson’s defense has, for the most part, been the silver lining in what has been an up and down third season for head coach Dana Holgorsen.

The most maligned unit following last year’s 7-6 collapse, the defense has moved up the Big 12 standings to rank No. 3 in total defense, allowing 345.4 yards per game, No. 6 in scoring (19.6 ppg) and rushing defense (157.0 ypg) and No. 4 in pass defense (188.4).

The three turnovers, as well as its valiant first-and-goal stand when OSU had the football at the WVU 3, were critical in West Virginia improving to 3-2 overall and 1-1 in conference play with a road game at Baylor next Saturday night.

“Obviously, they are playing much better,” OSU head coach Mike Gundy said. “They are more gap responsible. They are running to the football. They are better tacklers than last year.”

Just as obvious is a Mountaineer offense that can best be described at The Bad.

Yes, the unit put 23 points on the scoreboard and amassed 388 yards of total offense against the Cowboys.

But, the running game is nearly non-existent and there were times first-time starting quarterback Clint Trickett spent more time running for his life than looking for an open receiver.

“We’re still not close to being perfected, but it was a beginning,” offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson said. “The one thing we did was that we kept competing.”

If the unit can continue that improvement next week against the Bears, then a second straight victory over a Top 25 team is possible.

That is if The Ugly – WVU’s special teams -don’t bury the team in a landslide of costly mistakes like it nearly did on Saturday.

Yes, there were bright spots.

The play of punter Nick O’Toole as well as former Parkersburg South player Michael Molinari on kickoffs consistently left the visitors with a ‘long field’.

But, a Ronald Carswell kickoff return to open the second half which left the Mountaineers starting at their own 3 as well as a fair catch by the same player on a punt that appeared to be headed into the end zone, are the mistakes which haunted the old gold and blue in losses to Oklahoma and Maryland.

And will keep the Mountaineers continuing the winning ways in Waco this weekend.

Contact Jim Butta at jbutta@newsandsentinel.com