So much of what follows today is going to require something of a constant reminder, so let’s get it out of the way. Yeah, but that was Oklahoma on the other side. It’s impossible to disprove or dispute that, and the point is a lot of the Bad things can be countered or accompanied by that line and I won’t so much as blink because they’ve got good guys. In many spots, they’ve got better guys. You can treat the Good stuff similarly because it came at the expense of the same opposition. I have to think West Virginia saw a playoff team Saturday night, and I think Alabama is good enough to be there at the end, though to be honest, the rest of the SEC West might complicate matters more than the rest of the Big 12 will test the Sooners.
Anyhow, I found myself watching this game in person and then for this thinking, “They didn’t play too badly.” It got out of sorts late, but as Oklahoma opened up a lead, Oklahoma poured on the pressure and it derailed a lot of what the Mountaineers were doing, and some of that was compromised even before the game by the fact that — let’s hear it — that was Oklahoma on the other side. And then defensively, the sustained effect and impact of the running game was too much, too.
But I thought WVU did all right and did things it wanted but also missed some openings and then ran out of gas or answers or both. The pressure overwhelmed guys, but I thought WVU did things to the defensive line and yet just never broke runs beyond the first level. The secondary help up fine and the receivers did their jobs, but Sooners receivers and defensive backs affected the outcome in various ways.
It happens and there’s still a gap WVU has to close, and WVU has to take care of special situations better than it is now. The defense has only forced three turnovers and the offense hasn’t scored after any of them. Against Alabama, Maryland and Oklahoma, the defense has allowed 21 scores (13 touchdowns) and the offense has only followed with nine scores (seven touchdowns). The defense has forced 10 three-and-outs, but the offense has matched that in punts (three) and “turnovers” (one a fumble, one on downs) and only scored three times (one touchdown).
It’s sort of alarming to look at those numbers and think how close or how far the Mountaineer are from where they want to be.
“For the most part, we’re moving the ball, but the biggest deal is gaining momentum at the right time,” WVU offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson said. “It doesn’t seem like we’re really able to get the — I guess the right word would be ‘understanding’ — of when it’s time to put the throttle down and get momentum back.”
But I know we’ve been over this before: Inches!
All of which leads me to the picture up top. This is the second snap of the game. You can see the ball on the way from the center to the quarterback and you can see the ROLB is already on his way to the pocket. That’s Eric Striker and he’s a missile with a ludicrous first step. I don’t think he had the snap count down two plays in, and it’s possible he got a bead on Adam Pankey on film, but after 29 seconds, he changes the game with this otherwise little matter. He gets off the line in a hurry, he gets the sack, Pankey plays most of the rest of the game sunk back a little with his outside foot deep and you saw WVU use a ton of Cody Clay and/or Eli Wellman and even some Russell Haughton-James.
The more you need and use those guys, the less you use your playmakers on offense. As the game wore on and pressure mounted, WVU also lost its ability to make big plays. It’s all on a string.
How did we get here? Let’s find out by taking a look at the Good and the Bad of WVU v. Oklahoma.
Keith Ford must be a six-time All Pro if he was keeping carries away from this guy. When Ford gets back and the Sooners figure out how to balance Ford and Samaje Perine and mix in Alex Ross, good friggin’ luck. Watch Perine run and you think, “Dude’s a tank.” And you’re right because, naturally, that’s his nickname. He’s 5-foot-11 and 245 pounds, but he made some cuts and some reads that speak to a separate skill that makes him a little more dangerous than just a keg rolling down a hill. We could go over many of this 31 carries, but this one, I thought, spoke to this game. The Mountaineers have eight in the box and the Sooners are not impressed. Blake Bell (Aside: I was very impressed.) spins Brandon Golson out and the fullback ripkowskis through the hole and blasts K.J. Dillon. Then the left guard and the right tackle climb the ladder and take out Ish Banks and Nick Kwiatkoski and Perine accelerates and detonates. WVU never got to that second level. The Sooners spent a lot of time there.
— Terance Perine (@TerancePerine) September 22, 2014