This was emailed to me, so I’m not sure of the source. It’s not my picture and it’s not off the television broadcast — I don’t think. What it is is awesome. Count this as my Good for Geno and all that he did Saturday night.
No matter where you watched the game, you could tell Geno was having some sort of a conversation with people behind the WVU bench throughout the game. Apparently it got a little heated with the Texas recruits before the above “horns down” happened. Looks like the Mountaineers enjoyed themselves in Austin, Texas, and savored the win.
But how did it happen? Let’s examine the good and the bad of WVU v. Texas.
Good: Josh Francis
This is becoming a regular thing now and Francis played noticeably more than Tyler Anderson, even though WVU knew Texas would run the ball and Anderson is the run-stopper in that platoon. Francis just keeps popping up too often to ignore, though, and is actually tied for No. 10 in tackles for a loss.
Not No. 10 in the Big 12. No. 10 in the nation.
The above is not a tackle for a loss, but it’s not a touchdown or a 40-yard play, either. Texas had that thing blocked, but Francis wiggled inside the tight end and made the play. If he doesn’t, the play hits the second level and maybe goes the distance.
As the schedule progresses, you see him becoming more and more comfortable in what had been new and different situations, but are now just situations because he’s seen and played against more of them.
I thought one of a few keys to the game was the drive to open the third quarter. Texas took a lot of time off the clock, but put up just three points. Francis made plays for losses on the final second and third down on that drive that forced the field goal. Really, seven-and-a-half minutes and three points felt like a victory for WVU.
He ended up with nine tackles, three tackles for a loss and a sack that preceded Pat Miller’s big pass breakup.
Good: Special Stedman
It was he who was named the team’s special teams player of the week, though Tavon Austin was named the Big 12′s player of the week. But Bailey made two more tackles on kickoffs, one a trickier-than-it-looks play on a sky kick where he was there seemingly before he was ready, but he also spit the ball back to Tavon again on this kickoff.
I still, and now further, contend last week’s similar play was the plan. Sometimes a good play is getting the ball to Tavon, whether you’re Geno or Stedman Bailey. Bailey gets the ball to Tavon and the return is set up for Bailey to get ahead of Tavon and throw two critical blocks. We can all agree Stedman will be playing in the NFL next year — sorry! — and this sort of special teams stuff is going to help him a whole lot.
He’s making a points-per-game difference, whether it’s saving touchdowns or field position with tackles or creating field position with returns or blocks on returns.
Bad: Aim low, miss low
Tyler Bitancurt has now missed six of his past eight attempts from 40 yards or farther. He’s now had seven field goals blocked in his career — which is a lot. He’s had some good moments, but he’s had some low ones … and I mean low as in kicking a defensive lineman in the head. I couldn’t believe this one when it happened.
It’s from 42 yards out, but it seems like a short enough kick that Bitancurt can get under it and get it in the air and above the line and still have the distance. It literally hits Alex Okafor in the helmet. It was basically 6 feet, 5 inches off the ground. That’s not good.
Side good: Bitancurt recovering this. It’s an odd play because, again, it hit a guy in the head. The deflection is sharp and you have to think people are instinctively looking in the air or near the line of scrimmage for the ball. It is instead in an alley for a more alert Texas player to scoop it up and score, but Bitancurt saw it all the way and recovered it.
Side bad: What the hell was Gus watching? “He shanked it!”
He had an eighth kick blocked when his first career punt was deflected, but he took some of the blame for that because he said the kick was supposed to go left and he instead went straight as he hurried after the high snap. Good on him for that. And good on him for icily knocking through two field goals after all of that.
He may have hiccups, but it’s not because he’s a headcase.
This sort of thing didn’t happen repeatedly, but there were occasions, like this one. WVU rushes three here on third-and-6. The second-level players who are faking blitzes drop back, so the short stuff is mostly covered. Brodrick Jenkins is six yards off the line and 10 yards off his receiver and then looks to the sideline and retreats before the snap.
So there’s no rush and there are no quick, short throws because WVU’s defense has made that so. Nice work there.
But David Ash has enough time to progress back to Marquise Goodwin. That’s easy.
That said, much of the talk after the game was about Miller, but Jenkins had a solid game, I thought. Came up and made some plays and didn’t let hardly anything past him. That no one talked about him isn’t a bad thing.
Good: Texas lends a hand
Two-play package here, but it’s the same down. I really think Texas was surprised WVU wasn’t punting and, for some reason, ended up keeping its personnel on the field. That necessitated the timeout. But that personnel, in theory, can work against the five-wide — and Baylor could tell you a few things about that.
Sure enough, Texas wins up front with the four linemen pushing back and a linebacker scraping across the top to catch Geno before he can run. Suppose he escapes. I think the defenders jar Tavon so that he doesn’t catch the short pass. The defense would and should have won that down, but I think the coaches were very wary of the five-wide sets and getting caught.
Silly timeout, in retrospect. Texas returns with a new personnel package to better defend the pass. WVU has the same personnel, but flips the formation and lucks out when Tavon is being covered by cornerback Adrian Phillips, who was faking a blitz before the snap and then dropped back and just didn’t have enough oil to swivel and cover Tavon on the jerk route. From there, it’s talent v. talent and Tavon’s trumps.
Good: Karl Joseph grabs the lineup card
We hadn’t seen Mr. Joseph blitz very much in the first four games — and though it may have happened, I can’t recall something quite like this. But Texas had a very good play called for it. It just couldn’t account for Joseph making this play. Blitzes aren’t solely about sacking the quarterback. You want to hurry the passer, at worst, and Joseph succeeds here. He times his jump and makes the play.
And if he doesn’t, Texas has it blocked and there’s a lot of pressure on Isaiah Bruce to make this play — though he may have. I’m telling you, he’s something else in the middle.
Good: Lesson learned?
This is not unlike Nick Florence’s scramble and throw at the end of the first half last week and WVU does a much, much better job. First, in the middle, Jewone Snow takes out one receiving option. Snow then chases Ash and Miller races up from his spot to add some more heat and make sure Ash doesn’t run for the first down.
Miller’s safety has his receiver and Terence Garvin has another. The play is mostly covered … except that Joe Bergeron, who Snow knocked down, has entered the play again. This is both good and bad for WVU. I don’t think Ash saw Bergeron or was throwing for him, but Bergeron saw the ball and basically broke up the play, even though he was trying to make the play.
If he catches the ball, he scores.
Bad: See no evil
You won’t complain, but right guard Jeff Braun was very guilty of a false start here and he does make a block on the back end to help Andrew Buie get loose. The Texas sideline couldn’t believe it.
Good: Clay molding himself into a something good
WVU may have found something here. Cody Clay has really only been at this position for two weeks, but he looks like he’s already good at it and is going to get better. He was good again in pass protection and run blocking and we’re going to see him catch a pass here soon when WVU tempos and Clay splits out as an inside receiver. This will happen.
This isn’t his his best block of the day — he completely facilitated Buie’s last touchdown — but I was impressed when I saw this. He doesn’t really even block anyone until he goes at a defender’s toes to gain a few extra yards, but he the real value in this play is clearing the hole and showing the way. Buie knows the coast is clear and he doesn’t have to dance, or even think, and can just accelerate through.
Bad: Stop that man
Another good play by Clay, but watch Texas linebacker Steve Edmond. He’s No. 33 and he walks right into the neutral zone on fourth down and sure looks like he’s listening to WVU communicate the play. I have to think this just caught Joe Madsen off guard, or he would have just snapped the ball and taken five yards and the first down. Wouldn’t have even mattered if Geno was ready.
Good: Geno survives close call
Truth be told, this is a hard play and it’s probably complicated by two Texas players committing pass interference, but Mykkele Thompson should probably make this play. Geno’s just not going to have many close calls, so it behooves you to make the play when it’s in your grasp. Stedman Bailey is quite good at that.
As it stands, Eu hasn’t thrown an interception in 259 attempts. Russell Wilson has the NCAA record at 379.
Bad: Flea flicker
In the game post before the game, I wrote about trick plays and how Dana doesn’t really like them. Naturally, he dusts one off in the second quarter and it was a disaster.
There must have been something on film because WVU planted this seed early. It came from the diamond formation with Ryan Clarke to one side off Geno and Clay to the other. I saw that maybe two times before the flea flicker flopped and WVU ran both times. Texas sees the formation the third time and probably thinks run. Combine that with the quick change after the turnover and, in theory, the flea flicker is a fun idea.
It was also flawed. WVU really wanted to do it, so much so that it came on second down after quite likely the same play fell apart on first down when Buie and Geno collided in the backfield.
Good: Andrew Buie, problem solver
True, he makes a play and gets out of trouble here, but there’s something bigger at hand.
Sooner or later, Shawne Alston is going to come back from this thigh bruise — and don’t necessarily assume this week. Flying and messing with pressure isn’t always a great idea for bruises. From what I’m told, he’s needed extra treatments late in both of the previous weeks because of the nature of the bruise, so it’s not good and it may not be fast-healing.
That said, he’s not a going to take a medical redshirt, unless there’s something I don’t know, and he’s going to come back. And while that ought to be celebrated because he’s a bigger and thus different back and he was good in his two games this season, it ought to be as a complement to Buie.
We must understand it’s not always going to be as easy as it looked against Texas — by the way, I had to read that twice because it just doesn’t sound right — but a Dana Holgorsen offense is better with an Andrew Buie kind of back. Alston is a wrinkle and it’s fun to think about what might be, but it’s always seemed to me that Holgorsen has his few concrete principles that he dearly trusts and that he doesn’t have time to consider alternatives.
Alston, and I mean this as no slight to him, is one of those alternatives. Buie makes a defense think pass or run and he can do both. Alston … not the same. I just feel like Holgorsen is more Holgorsen with Buie featured. Alston’s injury, while unfortunate because he deserves better, combined with Buie’s play Saturday sort of settles whatever deliberation that may have been about what direction to head this season.
Now what we must watch this week is how Buie looks and feels. He had 35 touches against a big Texas team. After playing a big Maryland team, Holgorsen said he could have given Buie 35 touches, but that Buie wouldn’t have been worth much a week later.
Yet even that worry is somewhat assuaged with the return of similarly skilled Dustin Garrison. Buie doesn’t need 35 touches, but those 35 (and it’s really 34 on offense with a kick return) can be divvied up just a little with Garrison and the offense can remain the offense. Alston still has a role and a purpose, but neither is as large.
That’s football. The reality is cruel, but it’s also the reality.
Bad: This was WVU’s worst defensive play
We could have argued about this last week. There isn’t much argument this week. WVU really blew one play on defense and this is it.
You might argue the wheel route on the first series or the two in succession in the second quarter. I think the first was just good scheme — and it never happened again. The two to the tight ends before the half were, again, good schemes and Texas was smart to hurry and call basically the same play again before WVU could adjust — which WVU later did.
This was just a mistake. Texas is moving around a lot, out of a timeout, no less, and for all we know might have been in the wrong. But there was cause and effect and WVU just got caught. Not sure what Garvin is doing here, but that’s him walking up the line of scrimmage and even looking like he knew something was amiss.
Up in the press box we could see this going left for a big play once the receiver motioned left and Jenkins had to come off the edge to cover the receiver. It set up a crease and Texas had it blocked.
Good: Run defense
I know you can’t, but take away that play and Texas runs 38 times for 85 yards. Say the play happens, but WVU plays it normally. You’re looking at 39 runs and 89 or so yards. That is not a Texas day. The Longhorns had some good stuff on the first drive of the third quarter, but even then Francis intervened.
WVU was otherwise able to do it’s best job yet against the run, relative to the quality of the opponent, and didn’t get killed by the Wildcat. Thirty-nine carries for 135 yards and 3.5 yards per carry, both inflated by the above run, is a nice night. WVU’s linebackers might be a little underrated.
Good: Run offense
I probably don’t need to point it out, but the offensive line did a special job in the run game, and especially in the fourth quarter when Texas looked tired — and that was something WVU discussed after watching Texas fatigue a little against Oklahoma State.
The Mountaineers ran the ball left and right just about evenly, but the runs to the right were so much more productive, which means Braun and Pat Eger had good nights. So, too, did Stedman and J.D. Woods blocking outside.
Good: Shaq Rowell’s two-play sequence
He was very good and he’s been no worse than solid for a few weeks now. This was an enormous segment of the game. It follows Geno’s second fumble and picks up with Texas looking to take the lead or at least tie the score.
Watch him occupy the middle and make the tackle. On the next down, he takes on two defenders and that gives Joseph time and space to run in and make the play. It turned into a third-and-6 and Texas had to go to the shotgun. The snap sailed past Ash and that turned into a 41-yard field goal that went wide right.
If Rowell doesn’t make those plays, Texas runs the ball better and can at least call a more conventional play on third down — and Texas was very good on third and short.
Big moment for Mr. Rowell.
Good: Learning before your eyes
If you saw Buie or WVU’s run defense grow up before your eyes, you also saw a man learn to dance before your eyes. Four seconds in here, a fella in a white cap realizes everyone around him is losing their minds and coming treacherously close to a personal foul. He decides to join the fray and, 13 seconds in, raise the roof with just one hand. Mike Pereira will never be the same. The environment was, as you can see, contagious.
This was the play of the game, right? I was thinking that I wasn’t sure WVU wins without it, but I really think WVU doesn’t win without it. And what a play it was.
The Mountaineers, who played Tavon and Stedman on the same side maybe more than I’ve seen this season, did something similar earlier in the game and ran Stedman up the rail to create space for Tavon to run an out. This is basically the same play, but Texas did something a little different.
The safety drops, but Kenny Vaccaro also dropped off his blitz to handle Tavon. Tavon runs the route and Geno makes a really good throw, but the cornerback sees it and adjusts and pops Tavon. So many things might have gone wrong there, but they all went right for WVU.
Bad: Third down
The unprecedented 5-for-5 on fourth down masks this, but WVU was 3-for-12 on third down. That was a very big surprise. I realize it basically works out as 8-for-12, but the game could have been different if some of those third downs happened in WVU territory.
I don’t know how it looked on television, but watching Vaccaro v. Austin was a lot of fun because of plays like this. I’m not sure who won this one, but I know I didn’t lose.
Good: Dual ends
Holy cow were Jackson Jeffcoat and Okafor good players. Eger and Quinton Spain weren’t great, but it’s hard to be great against those two. WVU’s tackles were better than serviceable, though, and didn’t need help. They just got beat a few times, but those two are going to beat a lot of people a lot of times. I have to think Spain and Eger grade out pretty well and are better off no than they were before.
Good/Bad: Bolivia is getting popular
I like the Outer Banks except for one thing — everyone likes the Outer Banks. It used to be so much fun to go there, but now everyone goes there and you can’t cross town without seeing an OBX sticker on someone’s Tahoe.
We might be saying the same about our beloved Bolivia soon, but there remains hope. Stedman looks like he wants to run a fade route here and Carrington Byndom, who had to expect one, won’t allow it. But Stedman cuts inside and, inexplicably, gets underneath the safety.
What Geno and Stedman do that cannot be taught is frankly frightening. There’s not a lot of room there and it looks like no one is more aware of that than Bailey. Side good: Gus Johnson’s sound effect.
Bad: Gus and Charles Davis
Sorry, didn’t like the job they did. Holjersen. Millerd. Missing the fumble Karl Joseph called. I could do on, but I feel like that might be sacrilege.
He was in a separate glass booth about 15 feet to my right. I couldn’t hear his inside voice, but I could hear the screaming. It felt like he was calling the game for me, which was rather fun in the fourth quarter.
We’ve wondered about some timeout decisions this season, and the end of the first half arched some brows, but I liked what Dana did at the end of the game. Twice he called a timeout with one second on the play clock to make sure the ensuing down would work. This second-and-11 play was a big one.
The Mountaineers get to the sideline and find the right play. Film study and tendencies matter and the timeout let WVU figure this out before it happened. Texas is in man defense with four on the line, two linebackers in the box and a safety close behind. That puts three receivers on three defensive backs with a second safety up high, just in case, but Texas seems to be playing a run defense.
Holgorsen said he knew Texas would “junk up the box” with the safety, which leaves his guys to make a play against their guys. Geno and Stedman, again, are playing a different game and they win.