Delaware State is up next
After a disappointing close loss to Virginia Tech the previous weekend, the West Virginia Mountaineers took out their frustrations on an overmatched East Carolina squad Saturday in Morgantown.
WVU fans were all smiles in the first half as the Mountaineers were nearly flawless on their way to an overwhelming 49-3 lead. I haven’t checked the record book, but I would venture to say that was an all-time high for West Virginia points in a half of football.
East Carolina clearly had a strategy of trying to slow down the tempo of the game in order to limit possessions for the WVU offense, as the Pirates allowed most of the play clock to wind when having possession of the ball. The time of possession part of the concept worked, sort of, but the East Carolina defense had no answers when the Mountaineers had the ball. We saw a statistical anomaly at halftime as a result, where ECU had nearly 19 minutes of clock possession in the first half compared to only 11 for the Mountaineers. The only problem was that the Pirates tallied just 3 points while WVU scored seven touchdowns on eight possessions.
Will Grier had 352 yards passing in just two-and-a-half quarters of play, throwing for five touchdowns, three to wide receiver David Sills, who pulled in 7 passes for 153 yards on the day. Eleven different Mountaineers had at least one pass reception. Making his first appearance after a one-game suspension was Marcus Simms, who although catching only one pass for a 52-yard touchdown, opened some eyes with his speed. More significant was that Simms returned punts, an area where the Mountaineers have been woeful in recent years. His 23-yard punt return may have exceeded the West Virginia output in that category for the entire 2016 season.
The Mountaineers pulled starters midway through the third quarter; allowing a number of backups much needed playing time.
In a 56-20 win it is hard to find any negatives, but one was that placekicker Mike Molina missed two field goals of just over 40 yards. Although it didn’t make a difference Saturday that area may be a concern in close games down the line.
The Big 12 Conference has taken its lumps the last couple of seasons but got some much needed restitution with impressive road victories by Oklahoma at Ohio State and TCU at Arkansas. Oklahoma State looks strong, but has yet to play a quality opponent. Iowa State may be a better than some projected, as they showed plenty of offense in a tough double-overtime loss to Iowa. But there is a long way to the bottom, as the Baylor program appears to now be in dire straits and Kansas is already looking forward to basketball.
THIS SATURDAY: The first two weeks in college football has shown that there are a number of FCS schools (formerly NCAA Division II) who can be very competitive against the big boys. Delaware State is not one of them. The Hornets have lost 29 of their last 30 games. This could quickly get out of hand.
WEST VIRGINIA 59, DELAWARE STATE 7.