MONDAY MORNING QUARTERBACK: WVU creates a spark
Coming off a dramatic last second win at Texas the previous week, the major concern of WVU fans heading into last Saturday’s game against TCU was perhaps the Mountaineers would come out a bit flat and with a lack of focus.
Those concerns appeared to be justified early in the afternoon, as with six minutes remaining in the first half West Virginia had not yet dented the end zone and found itself in a tight 3-3 game. But once the dam burst it became a Mountaineer train running downhill. Beginning a drive at their own 40, West Virginia went up tempo trying to light up what had been a stagnant offense and quickly scored in just five plays. TCU failed to handle a bouncing kickoff allowing WVU to recover at the Horned Frogs 17, and four plays later the Mountaineers again hit paydirt. Then after forcing a TCU punt, the WVU offense struck for another score in another five plays, and suddenly the Mountaineers had a comfortable 24-3 halftime lead.
The onslaught continued at the beginning of the second half as West Virginia was awarded a safety after TCU quarterback Michael Collins was called for intentional grounding in the end zone. WVU then scored on another short five play drive. In just seven minutes of scoreboard time, the Mountaineers had scored 30 points to put the game on ice.
Special teams play often is overlooked and we have seen WVU on the wrong side of that equation a number of times. But on Saturday that scenario was reversed. A Billy Kinney punt was downed at the one in the second quarter. TCU failed to field one kickoff and started the second half at its own 4 after mishandling another. The Mountaineers did make one mistake allowing the Frogs to recover a punt which had hit a WVU player. But overall special teams play was a positive, contributing to field position advantages. The average starting position of TCU on its possessions was its own 22 yard line, while West Virginia average starting position was its own 38.
WVU fans yearning to see a tight end become part of the offense were rewarded by Trevon Westco, who hauled in five passes for a team leading 86 Yards, including one touchdown. Somewhere near where I was sitting such a fan chanted “West–Cooooo–Mountaineers!”. Hey, it works for me.
Some praise also has to be given to the West Virginia defense, which was solid all day, holding TCU to -7 yards rushing, including four quarterback sacks.
THIS SATURDAY: The two teams remaining on the WVU regular season slate squared off in a classic rivalry game Saturday, as Oklahoma stopped a two point conversion attempt to preserve an exciting 48-47 victory over Oklahoma State.
They combined for an amazing 1,342 total yards, so there is no doubt the Mountaineer defense will be tested as it hasn’t been previously this 2018 season. Cowboys quarterback Taylor Cornelius, who West Virginia will see this Saturday, passed for an impressive 501 yards in a losing effort.
The Mountaineer offense will need to hit the field on all cylinders from the opening whistle to keep up in what will be a high scoring battle. Fasten your seatbelts. WEST VIRGINIA 45 OKLAHOMA STATE 40.