Sorry to do this to you. The good news it this probably won’t take long. There really wasn’t much good to come out of that 49-14 debacle in Lubbock, Texas, and even the bad things were so apparent and so often repeated Saturday that I’m not sure you need much enlightening or antagonizing.
You know when they say “It is what it is!” and you sort of angle your head and wrench your lips? Well, that is pretty much what it means. I’m only going through stuff from the first half because 1) it was so bad and 2) the second half was a lot like the first half. I suppose the differences were that the Red Raiders didn’t score as much and that WVU’s body language went south and never returned.
It seemed many watching that some, though not all, WVU players, on offense and defense, were slow to get up after plays and many trotted off the field or even headed to the locker room as soon as they could. It was bad form — and don’t take my word for it.
Wait, bad link … better?
“It has something to do with mindset and mental toughness,” he said on the Big 12 coaches’ teleconference. “In a physical game, guys tend to go down and get hurt quicker.”
I’ve heard an interesting point the past few days and I’m willing to consider it: More good comes from a blowout loss than a nail-biter loss. That can make some sense. Had WVU lost close at Texas — and really, we’re not much more than one center-to-quarterback snap on a third down in the red zone away from seeing that — I think the Mountaineers could have still felt relatively good about themselves.
Unlikely they would have felt as swell as they watched the Longhorns get trounced by Oklahoma, though.
And had WVU lost a tight one to Texas Tech, I think there could again have been an argument that the Mountaineers may have thought things were OK, or at least not as bad as they are now, but also that the mood would merely delay an inevitable outcome that instead arrived with alacrity Saturday.
Right now, WVU has to look at itself after getting thumped by the Red Raiders and you get the feeling this team may have needed a third party to point out a few things.
And Texas? Probably wasn’t too devastated by the narrow loss to the Mountaineers, but the Longhorns are probably going to work a little harder after the Sooners had their way in the Cotton Bowl.
Anyhow, how did we get here? Let’s take a look at the good and the bad of WVU v. Texas Tech.
Good: Corey Smith
Three kickoffs, two touchbacks and the one that was returned was about five yards deep. He’s actually been pretty good at this, which matters because WVU’s coverage team can look good and terrible on any given snap.
Good: No straw
I don’t know why, but that makes me feel good. Like, I know the coach is there and ready to go and isn’t going to be lethargic. Also, to his left, wearing No. 84, is Josh Lambert, the freshman P/K. Yes, the Mountaineers travel with four punters/kickers, three that are on scholarship. It’s like that.
I’m leaving this afternoon tomorrow’s for Big 12 basketball media day in Kansas City. That means I won’t be at the team interviews tonight and I won’t be posting video here. Not sure how much I’ll be able to get to here much with the media day being an all day thing, but I’ll try. I travel back to Morgantown Thursday and should be home by mid-afternoon, but I’m not sure if or when we’ll be able to do the chat. We will have the F Double. I’ll keep you updated. This is the one schedule conflict this season and there’s nothing to be done.
Good: Your guy McGill
He’s your Raul Ibanez this week and to make you feel comfortable he’ll be wearing argyle and sipping on iced tea as he covers football for me. He’ll be at the press conference and the interviews today and he’ll be writing the stories for the paper. Capable hands, I promise.
Bad: And WVU blitzed a bunch early
All the Mountaineers had to show for their blitzes — and many six-man pressure packages like this — was a sack by Jorge Wright that wasn’t the result of a blitz. Seth Doege’s numbers weren’t as good when WVU pressured him, but he was often making quicker throws that the defense, usually playing man-to-man, could defend. Imagine that.
Other times, Texas Tech turned them all back, like here, when it’s 6-on-6 as the running back steps up to take out Josh Francis before Doege runs for the first down.
That was early and it was a big moment, I thought, because Doege decided he could run and it kept WVU passive in similar spots. I’m not sure if WVU is just slow or if WVU looked slow, but there were times when Texas Tech players simply outran WVU players … and the Texas Tech players were quarterbacks and tight ends. That’s not a good sign.
Good: Texas Tech tackled really well
WVU feasts on yardage after the catch or yards after contact — and Andrew Buie is quietly really good at this. The week before Texas Tech lassoed WVU, the Red Raiders have up 150 yards after contact to Oklahoma. That didn’t happen against WVU and I make that a “Good” because you can at least take some consolation from knowing your team’s struggle had much to do with the other team just playing well.
This is one of those plays. Texas Tech puts nine in the box and WVU tries to create more creases or space by sweeping Tavon right to left before the snap. That leaves Buie 1-on-1, but Terrence Bullitt makes a good play — though I’m not certain how the guy standing over the left guard sneaks in like that. But if Buie goes by, he’s got a chance to go far. Texas Tech rarely let that happen.
WVU’s long plays were 38- and 20-yard passes that featured almost nothing after the catch.
Side Good goes to the Tech defense. I was suspicious and, boy, was I wrong. Those guys are good. I’m still getting to learn the teams and the individuals, but safety Cody Davis was really good — with 13 solo tackles. The cornerbacks played very well after losing a starter early in the game. Kerry Hyder, though undersized, is one of the better interior linemen I’ve seen so far. In closing, they’re good.
Bad: #TeamGoForIt has a bad day
Can’t be 5-for-5 every day, and I know 1-for-6 is a bit of an anomaly because of the game and the circumstances, but this is the one that needs to be discussed. I’m cozy on the fence on this one, and it’s likely Dana already knew that would would happen would ultimately happen to his team, but doesn’t 14-10 feel a whole lot better? And don’t you trust Bitancurt? How bad WAS the wind? It just felt like this was a white flag and a not-so-subtle clue about the defense. Remember this from Stedman Bailey?
“With our offense, I do like our changes to convert a lot of those situations, but it all depends where you are on the field,” receiver Stedman Bailey said. “It could be a big momentum shift if you don’t get it, especially in an environment like Texas.
“That would pretty much rev their fans up and make them go crazy, which would make it hard on our defense. If you do get it, it’s kind of like, I don’t know, a slap in their face. I’m for it, but like I said, it all depends on where you are on the field.”
The strangest part to me was the play. WVU doesn’t pull a guard very much, but when Josh Jenkins slides right, the left side pretty much caves in on Geno Smith. As this has been explained to me, it’s a run-pass option where Geno can give it to the back on a counter or he can keep it and trust the blockers are confused by the actions of the offensive line. But, again, it’s a play the offense doesn’t call very much and it didn’t have a chance here — and that was before Andrew Buie went low on a defender who’s already being blocked.
Bad: Missed assignments
Obviously, not a good day for the Mountaineers, but Texas Tech did force some things, though I’d bet you WVU would say it should have stopped stuff like this. Here the running back motions out and becomes Terence Garvin’s problem. Isaiah Bruce makes a quick and late misstep toward that side and leaves the middle open for a big gain. We can’t see Doege’s eyes, and presumably Bruce can, so maybe Doege tricked Bruce. Either way, can’t lose track of a receiver ambling across your face in the middle of the field.
Good: Dana’s highlights
I was trying to think of a way to describe things like this, but Dana said early in his postgame press conference that the running game was doomed because the Mountaineers “didn’t finish blocks.” That’ll work. Here you see center Joey Madsen and right guard Jeff Braun take on Texas Tech’s Leon Mackey. Leon Mackey makes the play. It was his only tackle of the game.
Good: You may have your answer
Surely you’ve demanded Pat Miller and/or Brodrick Jenkins have a seat on the bench. An assistant coach told me year back, “Depth can get you beat, too.” Pat Miller was removed on this series and Texas Tech singled out his replacement, Ricky Rumph. I mean, motioned a man outside to take a safety, Karl Joseph, with him and out of the eventual receiver’s path. Rumph gives up the slant and the other safety, Darwin Cook, is left to cover a lot of room without a second safety and is watching Doege too much to make a play on the pass.
Nana Kyeremeh gave u pa touchdown on the only play he had against Baylor. Rumph was later targeted near the goal line a second time on a screen play that worked for a touchdown. Those are your backups to Miller and Jenkins.
Bad: No straws
This made me sad.
This is the play that stood out to me for no particular reason, but it showed some of WVU’s problems in attitude. Find Joseph in the defensive backfield to start the play. The running back Eric Stephens is the check-down and he catches the ball at the 35-yard line.
No WVU defender is near him, which is kind of the point of a check down, but no one is in a hurry to get there. Linebacker Jewone Snow, who got beat on the opening touchdown, and Josh Francis appear but they’re holding ground and Stephens has an easy time skipping past. Joseph ends up making the tackle for a six-yard gain, which means he managed 11 yards after he caught the pass.
Bad: Looking the other way
Watch the right guard, Braun, and his jet -ropelled helmet. That has to be why it flew off his head. I mean, if it were a blatant illegal hands to the face, a penalty would have been called.
So, was it the wind? I have to think it was a factor based off what Holgorsen and Tommy Tubervile said and because Geno and Stedman connect on this pass all. the. time. All the time. It fluttered and floated out of bounds and you saw the same on a pass to Ivan McCartney in the third quarter as you do here in the second quarter.
All I know is this: Geno was 10-for-23 in the second quarter and 6-for-14 in the third when he was going into that wind. In the first and fourth, he was 9-for-11 and 4-for-7.
Look at this …
… identical plays, though the first throw is longer and the second is shorter. Draw your own conclusions.
Don’t think this was Geno or the wind … at least not entirely. The television view doesn’t make it look like a good throw or decision, but Geno seemed mad after the throw hit the ground. The replay, which includes Geno barking at Tavon, is from behind the play and suggests Tavon had a chance to get vertical.
Good: A great: Karl Joseph
Wonderful play by the young fella. And at the time, it seemed to be a critical play.
After the Baylor game — and maybe even after the Marshall game, now that I think of it — there was a company line many repeated: The offense/defense/coaching staff knows that there will be a time the defense saves the day for the offense. I’m perhaps stretching here, but there was a brief surge in the third quarter against Baylor, the Francis sack and Miller PBU against Texas and this. Had WVU gone down and scored after this, it could have been a very different game.
As it stands, a plan that relies on the defense forcing turnovers and cheering as the offense capitalizes hasn’t seen the offense score on the past four turnovers caused by a leaky defense. No one is free of guilt. Don’t misconstrue my point: The defense is bad. But it hasn’t gotten absolute assistance.
Watch the slot receiver on the hash at the top of the screen. He runs a wheel route. Joe DeForest said after the Texas game, in which the Longhorns ran two wheel routes to tight ends on successive plays, he’d not seen Texas run it on film. One wonders if the Red Raiders had done this on film.Either way, WVU has a hard time covering it, so don’t be surprised to see more of it. Joseph just kind of shadows the guy in his zone and doesn’t really cover him. That lets the receiver get loose.
Bad: This shouldn’t have happen
First, Kyle Rose gets tackled and that should have been a hold. Then Doege gets outside and pass-fakes Francis for a first down.
Side good: Rose, Eric Kinsey and Korey Harris, who combined to replace Will Clarke, had their moments. I thought Rose was a pleasant surprise, in fact.
I still can’t believe this happened. I cannot believe the back got up the field, bounced outside, reached the sideline and then outran everyone — and made WVU look slow. That’s a lot to have happen and a lot to go wrong on one play. And that was the game, without question. That all of that happened when the defense had to know a score was the game and a stop would give WVU at least a chance is disconcerting.
Good: Best sax ever