TUESDAY MORNING QUARTERBACK: WVU’s fight falls short vs. Raiders
The West Virginia Mountaineers had fought back from an early deficit to tie the game against Texas Tech. With nine minutes to go the WVU defense, after a rocky start, seemed to be taking control. With a strong fourth quarter wind at their back the Mountaineers began a series at the Red Raiders 42, and it looked as if they were poised to take control of the game.
And then the play that decided the game occurred. Sam James caught a pass in the flat, and as he was fighting for extra yardage fumbled the ball into the hands of a Texas Tech defender who raced into the end zone for a touchdown that ultimately decided the outcome.
Thus as we so often have been accustomed, West Virginia found another way to beat itself. The fumbled reception was just another in a series of misplays by a Mountaineer receiving corps. A whopping seven passes were dropped, including two on what would have been third down conversions in the fourth quarter. Although quarterback Jarret Doege missed some throws, he hit enough receivers to have even a better day than his statistical line of 347 yards passing, but received little help from the group catching the ball on the other end.
After scoring touchdowns on the first two possessions beginning the second half, the offense went scoreless the remainder of the game.
On the last five possessions WVU had three punts and two turnovers. Although the dropped passes were a huge factor, the biggest cause of the inconsistency was the failure of West Virginia to effectively run the football. Only 91 rushing yards were gained on the day, but most telling was that in the second half the Mountaineers gained only 31 yards on 14 carries. Having to attempt 50 passes, as WVU did Saturday, is not the way this offense is built.
An angry and frustrated Neal Brown lamented the fourth quarter failures which prevented a West Virginia win. What one senses in listening is whether he has confidence the failures can be corrected to the extent that will be necessary in order to be successful the last half of the schedule.
Although the current record stands at a respectable 3-2, Brown knows that the last five teams on the slate are all better than the one that just beat the Mountaineers in Lubbock.
THIS SATURDAY: After Kansas State was upset in its opener by Arkansas State the future didn’t look bright. Yet six weeks later we find the Wildcats at the top of the Big 12 standings with a 4-0 record, including road wins at Oklahoma and TCU. Unfortunately they have lost their starting quarterback to injury but continue to roll, though the Kansas State win last Saturday over Kansas by 55-14 was a bit misleading as they scored three of their touchdowns on punt returns and defense, gaining only 381 total yards.
The Mountaineers have had the Wildcats’ number, winning the last four matchups. But regretfully I have departed the bandwagon for now. Plenty of good seats are now available and I left the key under the front bumper if anyone wants to jump on. KANSAS STATE 26 WEST VIRGINIA 20.