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  1. #21
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    Wvu vs. Baylor: Recap


    MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – West Virginia's offense was non-existent 12 days ago at Iowa State. Well, the Mountaineers rediscovered it tonight in Morgantown against Baylor.

    In a big way.

    Will Grier completed 17-of-27 passes for 353 yards and three touchdowns to lead 13th-ranked West Virginia to a 58-14 victory over Baylor in a rare Thursday night game in Morgantown.

    "I thought he was solid," West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen said of his quarterback. "He managed it well. The thing I liked about it is we had a whole bunch of people touch the ball."

    It's West Virginia's first Thursday night game here since 2014, when WVU dropped a 26-20 decision to Kansas State – the only time the Mountaineers have ever lost a weekday night game in Morgantown. Including Wednesday night games, West Virginia is now 11-1 under the lights at Milan Puskar Stadium during weekdays since it first started playing them here in 1994.

    Grier's passing totals came in three quarters of play before his night ended. On West Virginia's first play of the fourth quarter, backup quarterback Jack Allison threw his first WVU touchdown pass, a 36-yarder to a wide open Gary Jennings Jr., his second touchdown reception of the night.

    Jennings Jr.'s first came on the game's first offensive series after Grier completed quick passes to David Sills V and Marcus Simms, taking the football out to the 47. On the next play, Grier hit Jennings Jr. in stride down the near sideline for a 53-yard score.

    Jennings Jr., running in motion from the far side of the field, kept on going down the near sideline. The three Baylor defenders jumped on Simms running a skinny post and Jennings Jr. was wide open for the easy touchdown.

    Two Evan Staley missed field goals preceded more WVU scoring - both coming from Staley's leg. He punched the first one in from 25 yards and the second going for 47 yards to give the Mountaineers a 13-0 lead.

    A Baylor punt gave West Virginia the football at its 48 with 11:25 left in the second quarter. Three Alec Sinkfield runs and a Baylor offsides penalty gave WVU a new set of downs at the Bear 32. A Grier fourth-and-3 carry for 7 yards then made it first and 10 at the 25.

    Here, Grier wound up his arm and fired a 25-yard strike to Sills V for a touchdown, Staley's conversion giving the Mountaineers a 20-0 lead.

    It quickly swelled to 27-0 following another Bear punt when Grier hit Sills V down the near sideline with three Baylor defenders falling down like bowling pins around him, leading to a 65-yard touchdown. It was Sills V's ninth touchdown catch of the season.

    Shae Campbell's interception, one of three Charlie Brewer threw before leaving the game in the second quarter with an undisclosed injury, gave West Virginia the ball back at the Baylor 33.

    One play later, West Virginia caught the Bears in another all-out blitz, and Martell Pettaway slipped free for a 33-yard touchdown run and the rout was on. That score made it 34-0.

    Once more, Baylor was forced to punt with 3:57 remaining in the half and immediately WVU was right back on the doorstep of Baylor's end zone. Tevin Bush got free around right tackle at the WVU 20 and broke loose down the near side of the field, running all the way to the end zone but he was ruled down at the 1 when a hustling Verkedric Vaughns caught him from behind.

    On the next play, Grier snuck in to give WVU a 41-0 halftime lead.

    The third quarter began with some more Bad News Bears. This time Chris Platt fumbled the opening kickoff when he was hit by Hakeem Bailey at the Baylor 21 and the football was recovered by Sean Mahone.

    This led to Staley's third field goal, a 44 yarder, after Grier's third-down pass to Sills V fell incomplete.

    Baylor (4-4, 2-3) scored its first touchdown on the game's next possession with backup quarterback Jalan McClendon behind center. All but 14 of Baylor's 56 yards on its scoring drive came on the ground, including Josh Fleeks' 2-yard touchdown run.

    The Bears got their other touchdown right after Leddie Brown completed a 10-play, 72-yard scoring drive with his 1-yard scoring plunge. That score made it 51-7.

    McClendon completed all six of his pass attempts before finishing the 75-yard Baylor march with a 1-yard touchdown run.

    The vast majority of Baylor's 287 total yards came after the outcome was already decided. The WVU defense limited the Bears to just five first downs and 87 first-half yards while coming up with three turnovers. West Virginia's 12 tackles for losses were the most by the Mountaineers since recording 14 in a 21-20 win over Pitt here in 2011.

    "It's hard to argue with what (the defense) did," Holgorsen said. "They created turnovers and won the turnover battle 4-0. I don't have the field position numbers, but I'm assuming we dominated the field position with turnovers and with making them punt quick. I think we tackled better."

    Brewer bore the brunt of it, completing just 1 of his 8 pass attempts for 22 yards including all three picks before leaving the game. McClendon stepped in to complete 16-of-21 for 183 yards, mostly in the second half.

    Sills V (139 receiving yards) and Jennings Jr. (100) gave West Virginia its first dual 100-yard receivers since its season-opening 40-14 victory over Tennessee in Charlotte.

    The Mountaineers finished the night with 568 total yards, their most since putting up 625 yards in a 52-17 win over Youngstown State in week two.

    The victory tonight was Holgorsen's 59th at West Virginia, moving him past Art Lewis for sole possession of third place. His next win will move into a tie with Rich Rodriguez for second with 60 victories.

    Baylor is now winless in four tries here in Morgantown, losing by scores of 70-63, 41-27, 24-21 and 58-14.

    "Obviously it was a disappointing night," Baylor coach Matt Rhule said. "We didn't play very well and a lot of credit to West Virginia. I thought they played well in all phases. Everyone in that room is disappointed. We didn't see it coming. We thought we practiced and prepared well."

    West Virginia improves to 6-1, 4-1 with tonight's win and remains one game behind league leader Texas in the loss column with a Nov. 3 meeting in Austin looming.

    A game time for that game will not be revealed until Sunday.

    An announced crowd of 53,117 watched tonight's game.

    Key Takeaways:

    West Virginia’s defense registered 12 tackles for loss tonight against the Bears, the most by a Mountaineer defense since 2011.
    Grier finished with 353 yards and 3 touchdowns on 17-of-27 passing.
    West Virginia ran the ball 33 times for 132 yards with Leddie Brown, Martell Pettaway and Will Grier each scoring a touchdown.
    David Sills is now tied with Tavon Austin for second all-time in touchdown receptions with 29 receiving touchdowns.
    West Virginia averaged 8.9 yards per play compared to Baylor’s 4.4

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    Wvu vs. Texas: Preview

    #13 West Virginia (6-1) vs. #17 Texas (6-2)

    Date: Saturday, November 3
    Game Time: 3:30 ET
    Venue: Royal Texas Memorial Stadium, Austin, TX
    Network: FOX

    Week 10 of the college football season takes the No. 13 Mountaineers to Austin, Texas, to take on the No. 17 Longhorns in front of a sold-out crowd in Darrell K Royal – Texas Memorial Stadium. Both teams are tied for 1st in the Big 12 with a 6-1 mark. This game will certainly be a turning point in the season and is a must win for each team.

    Will Grier and the Mountaineers are coming off a stellar performance on all sides of the ball last week against the Baylor Bears. That type of dominant win could not have come at a better time in the season as Texas will pose as West Virginia’s toughest challenge of the season so far.

    Head coach Dana Holgorsen gave praise to the Longhorns veteran defense.

    “Defensively they have a lot of older guys with experience. We’ve seen these guys for the past four years so we know what they can do. They’re playing hard and we need to be ready."

    Grier and his talented receiving corps look to best a Longhorn secondary ranked 52nd in pass defense efficiency. David Sills V, Grier’s favorite target, enters week 10 with 37 receptions for 529-yards and nine touchdowns. Gary Jennings (502) and TJ Simmons (511) join Sills V making three Mountaineer receivers in the 500 club this season so far.

    Holgorsen believes the Mountaineers will have their work cut out for them on defense against a Texas offense that strike in a variety of ways.

    “It all starts with their quarterback. They run him a lot. He looks a lot more comfortable in the pocket this year. They have a great offensive line which helps make their plays work,” he said.

    The Longhorns have several playmakers on offense. None is quite more dangerous than WR Lil’Jordan Humphrey who has 645-yards and four touchdowns on the season. Texas also has a strong, physical running back in Keaontay Ingram who’s rushed for 455-yards and two touchdowns so far this season.

    "This is a game we’ve been looking forward to for a while. We lost last year and we haven’t forgotten that. We’re prepared to go to Austin on Friday and play some football on Saturday. We need to be prepared to play or we’re going to get beat. I’m excited to get ready to play this one,” Holgorsen said.

    The Mountaineers will arrive in Austin on Friday prepared to put the remainder of their season on the line. Kickoff between No. 13 West Virginia and No. 17 Texas is set for Saturday at 3:30 pm on FOX.

    Inside the Numbers: WVU at Texas

    WVU vs. Texas

    This series has been about as even as any against a Big 12 foe since WVU joined the conference.

    But the series goes way back to 1956, though it wasn’t renewed until 2012 when it began being played annually.

    Overall, the Mountaineers are 4-3 all-time against Texas. The road team has won five of the seven total matchups, including each of the last two and each of the first three.

    Will Grier pre- and post-injury

    When these teams met last year, quarterback Will Grier suffered a hand injury that ended his season.

    In the ten games prior to the injury, Grier had a 64.4 completion percentage and had a QB rating of 167.7.

    In the seven games since returning, he’s been even better, completing 70.3 percent of his throws and has a passer rating of 188.7.

    He’s also throwing more touchdowns per game: 3.6 compared to 3.4.

    Defensive battle

    Saturday’s contest will be a matchup of two of the better defenses in the Big 12.

    WVU is first in scoring defense (19.6), pass efficiency defense (124.9) and tackles for loss (65).

    The Longhorns are the best in the conference in red zone defense – only allowing scores 71.9 percent of the time – and are just behind West Virginia in pass efficiency defense (126.4). That means both defenses make it hard on opposing quarterbacks.

    Big hit on UT

    Kyzir White laid the big hit most people remember the last time West Virginia was in Austin. So who will it be this year?

    Mountaineer Nation believes it will be David Long Jr.

    Fifty-five percent of respondents in a recent poll thinks Long will deliver the big hit Saturday.

    The Chalkboard: West Virginia Mountaineers – Texas Longhorns

    Consistency is the watchword for this game. Which team can play at a good level for the majority of the contest? Both schools have battled to reach that level this year. West Virginia has had noted lulls in offensive play against Texas Tech, Kansas and (for most of the game) Iowa State. Texas has tended to start slowly on defense, having yielded 65 of their 199 points allowed in the opening 15 minutes. They’ve balanced that with 91 second quarter points against just 44 by their opponents. Of course, any one game can go against statistical patterns, but if Texas can hold WVU down early, it will get a psychological boost. The same would be true for the Mountaineers if they can move the ball on the majority of their drives and not suffer three or four consecutive possessions with no productivity.

    The match-up of the game is likely West Virginia’s passing attack against Texas’ pass defense. Those watching Oklahoma State’s onslaught against the Longhorns might think that conveys the advantage to the Mountaineers, but there’s more in play here. First, both Texas cornerbacks were held out of the first quarter against the Cowboys due to disciplinary reasons, and although Kris Boyd and Davante Davis returned for the final three periods, their play was far below the level they had set in previous contests. The carryover from the suspensions may well have affected them throughout the game, but it’s tough to think that they’ll still be in a funk when they take the field this weekend.

    Can West Virginia protect against an improving Texas pass rush? Defensive end Charles Omenihu has been picking up the pace in that department in last four games, recording six sacks and four quarterback hurries, and juco linebacker Gary Johnson is a first class blitzer from the second level. Countering that, West Virginia unveiled some different-looking protection schemes against Baylor, and will have to get continued good play from tight end Trevon Wesco and its running backs to help in pass protection.

    You’ll Know Where The Mountaineers Stand After This Game

    Yeah, this is the easy way out but it’s still true. When this game is over, the Mountaineers will either be legitimate Big 12 title contenders or they will be relegated to a lower-tier bowl. The loss to Iowa St. Cyclones has taken away the margin of error for West Virginia. Two losses will be enough to keep the Mountaineers out of the Big 12 CCG because of tiebreakers. At this point, a loss to Texas will put the Mountaineers in second place and if anyone other than Oklahoma finishes with the season with just two losses, the Mountaineers will find themselves out of the game. Win the game and you know this team can play with the more talented squads.

    Put Texas Behind The Chains And They Fold

    According to Bill Connelly’s advanced stats, Texas ranks 39th in offensive success rate and 22nd is offensive efficiency, but 115th in IsoPPP and 117 in Marginal Explosiveness. What this tells us is that Texas is able to avoid the negative play but they aren’t going to beat you going deep when they do. Texas is a plodder.

    Even better is that Texas is only 104th in average field position on offense. So they often have to go a long way to score points. This plays well into West Virginia’s hand. The Mountaineers are both efficient (48th in Defensive Success Rate, 58th in Marginal Efficiency) and Explosive (48th in Defense IsoPPP, 30th in Defensive Marginal Explosiveness).

    The storyline is that we want Sam Ehlinger to beat us throwing the ball. The stats bear that out. Ehlinger is efficiency but he’s not very explosive. If you are going to beat West Virginia when they are on their game, you have to beat us for big gains and so far Texas hasn’t proven they can do that.

    The Turnover Helmet Must Appear Twice

    Since the Turnover Helmet first made an appearance against Kansas State, the Mountaineers have forced 16 turnovers in five games, over 3 per. For West Virginia, the helmet has been a fantastic success. It is 100% West Virginia and has helped motivate the defense to generate the necessary gains that stop the opposing offense while giving the ball back to our team. Against Texas, who haven’t thrown many interceptions or lost many fumbles, the defense will need to generate at least two turnovers. Doing so, and allowing the Mountaineers to continue their streak of scoring on turnovers will put the Longhorns in a position of abandoning the run, which is where we want them. We want Ehlinger throwing the ball.

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    Wvu vs texas: Recap

    AUSTIN, TEXAS–West Virginia may not have secured a spot in the Big 12 championship game by virtue of its thrilling 42-41 victory over No. 15 Texas in Austin, but certainly the Mountaineers put down a hefty deposit on a trip to the Dec. 1 title game in Dallas.

    From the outset it seemed like this was a battle where the offense that had the ball last would come out with the win, and in the end, that’s basically what happened. Will Grier’s 33-yard javelin shot to Gary Jennings with 16 seconds left gave the Mountaineers an opportunity to go for win with a two-point conversion. Grier converted with his feet, and WVU left Austin with one of its biggest victories in many years.

    Let’s grade West Virginia’s effort.

    Offensive Grade – A Will Grier was the story of the game, and that’s understandable, as he threw for 346 yards and three TDs. His clutch plays at the end will be remembered around West Virginia for generations. But the reason the Mountaineers were even in a position to sniff a win was because their run game was the best it’s been all season. WVU posted 232 rushing yards – 121 from Martell Pettaway and 94 from Kennedy McKoy. Texas was more concerned with slowing WVU’s passing attack, and it left open lanes. Iowa State did the same thing to West Virginia a few weeks ago, but the Mountaineers still couldn’t run it effectively, and thus lost. Texas tried the same thing, but this time WVU’s offensive line opened gapping holes, and its backs went dashing through.

    Defensive Grade – B- Admittedly West Virginia’s defense gave up a season-high 520 yards of total offense and 41 points. WVU defensive coordinator Tony Gibson was not pleased with the performance. There were positives, though, as the Mountaineer D came up with a key fourth down stop inside the five early in the third quarter and then held two other Texas drives deep into the redzone to just field goals. In an offensive shootout, a few key defensive moments were huge.

    Special teams – B This wasn’t a game that featured a ton of special teams. Between the two, there were only three punts. Each club did convert a pair of field goals, and the two from 40+ by WVU’s Evan Staley obviously were huge in the one-point victory. West Virginia’s kickoff coverage team, which had been very good this season, did get creased a couple times, but at least it kept something bad from becoming something horrible.

    Coaching – A+ Defensively Tony Gibson’s unit had trouble slowing down the Longhorns, but when Texas has a 6-foot-6 receiver like L.J. Humphrey, who can just outjump everyone, I’m not sure what the coaching strategy should be. Offensively, WVU’s coaching decisions were outstanding. For the most part, Jake Spavital dialed up all the right calls. And Dana Holgorsen’s decision to go for two and the win with 16 seconds left will become the stuff of legends around the Mountain State in short order.

    Atmosphere – B+ It was a gorgeous afternoon in Austin. It was announced as a sellout crowd at DKR-Texas Memorial Stadium, though the UT student sections weren’t full. WVU apparently isn’t the only one with a student attendance problem. Still it was a huge crowd (100,703, the second largest WVU has ever played in front of), and while Texas fans have a reputation of being a bit laid-back, but they were pretty raucous Saturday. Many Mountaineer fans have grown to enjoy the biennial trip to eclectic Austin, and as usual, there was a nice contingent of West Virginians in attendance. It was a great day for a great college football game.

    GAME RECAP: No. 13 WVU Wins Thriller over No. 17 Texas

    It was a sunny October afternoon as the Mountaineers faced off against the Longhorns in Austin, Texas. The highly anticipated week 10 matchup brought a sold-out crowd and a ton of energy to Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium.
    The Mountaineers received to begin the game and ran a balanced attack of runs and passes before eventually being held to just a field goal. Evan Staley knocked it through from 45 yards to give the Mountaineers the early 3-0 lead.
    Texas would strike back 2 drives later after a spectacular catch from WR Lil’Jordan Humphrey placed the Longhorns on the goal line. QB Sam Ehlinger would take things from there, walking the ball in from the 1 yard line. Texas took the lead 7-3. Grier would respond in the following drive exploiting a breakdown in the Longhorn secondary and finding David Sills V for a 60-yard touchdown. From there the Mountaineers would face some adversity as Sills was penalized for excessive celebration and LG Yondy Cajuste was ejected after a retaliation penalty following the extra point. WVU did retain the lead 10-7. For the remainder of the first half, these the opponents went back and forth. Texas took the lead back in 3 plays on a 21-yard touchdown grab from Humphrey. Through adversity and penalties, the WVU offense powered through. Grier found his favorite target, Sills V, again for an 18-yard touchdown. The Mountaineers were back on top 17-14, but not for long.
    The Longhorns were able to piece together an 11-play drive, one of the longer drives of the day. RB, Tre Watson punched it in from the 5-yard line to give Texas the lead back 21-17 but the Mountaineer offense was still hot.
    This time it was the Mountaineer running game that would deliver a blow at the hands of Martell Pettaway. He was able to break tackles on his way to the end zone for a 55-yard touchdown.
    It was Mason who would hurt the Mountaineers again, this time catching a swing pass out of the backfield. Mason was able to make defenders miss as he high stepped for a touchdown. This would make the seventh lead change of the game as Texas was back on top 28-24 with 2 minutes to play in the half.
    The Mountaineers did everything they could to find the end zone again but the streak of touchdown drives was finally snapped but Staley did hit another field goal from 44 yards. The score was 28-27, Texas, at the half.
    Texas was the first to strike near the end of the 3rd quarter. After moving the ball downfield very well, it looked as if the Longhorns were about to find the end zone again but the Mountaineer defense came up with a stop. Texas settled for a field goal making the score 31-27.
    Following another Texas field goal in the 4th quarter, the Mountaineers found themselves down 7 points. Martell Pettaway continued his superb night with a 13-yard touchdown run tying the game 34-34 with 5 minutes left to play. The Texas offense did all they could responding with a 48-yard touchdown pass to Devin Duvernay. The 6-play drive brought the clock down to 2 and a half minutes to play.
    One last time, Grier would lead his offense out with the game on the line. The Mountaineers utilized all their offensive weapons before Grier placed a perfect pass in the back of the end zone to Gary Jennings bringing the Mountaineers within one with 16 seconds to play. Head Coach Holgorsen made the risky decision to go for the 2-point conversation and the win.
    Again, Grier did what he does best: take control. From shotgun, he got to the outside and took the ball in himself for the conversion silencing the over 100,000 in attendance. Texas had enough time for a last second hail Mary but it was to no avail. The Mountaineers hung on to win in chilling fashion.
    Now a 2-loss team, Texas will take the short road trip to Texas Tech next week hoping to get back on track. West Virginia is now expected to be the undisputed top team in the Big 12 going into week eleven. They will host TCU in Morgantown next Saturday.
    Last edited by Ratpenat; 04-11-2018 at 20:07.

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    Moonshine and the Mountaineers: West Virginia's tailgate tradition

    Awesome article on a tradition I loved partaking in during pre game rituals while tailgating in "The Pit".... Moonshine and pepperoni Rolls...Baby!!!!!!!!!!! Enjoy!!!!!


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    Wvu vs. Tcu: Preview

    #7 West Virginia Mountaineers vs. TCU Horned Frogs

    The details

    Kickoff: 11 a.m. Saturday

    Where: Milan Puskar Stadium, Morgantown, West Virginia

    TV: FS1 (Justin Kutcher, DeMarco Murray, Petros Papadakis, Holly Sonders)

    Radio: WBAP 820 AM, KTCU 88.7 FM, XM 381 (Brian Estridge, John Denton, Landry Burdine)

    Spanish Radio: KFZO 99.1 FM (Miguel Cruz, Elvis Gallegos)

    Inside the Numbers: West Virginia hosting TCU

    Coming off it’s thrilling victory over Texas last week, No. 9 West Virginia (7-1, 5-1) is back home and riding high with the path to the Big 12 title game getting clearer.

    The Mountaineers are hosting a struggling Texas Christian (4-5, 2-4) team with the chance to take another step towards a trip to “Jerry World” in December.

    Close calls

    Both WVU and TCU are coming off one-point wins last week.

    The Mountaineers stayed in the conference title hunt, while the Horned Frogs stayed out of the conference basement with their win.

    West Virginia is 11-7 since the start of the 2010 season in games immediately following a contest decided by three points or fewer.

    And the last time WVU won a game by just one point, it go a ‘W’ the next time out.

    TCU vs. the Pass

    TCU’s struggles this year have come when opposing teams have an average-to-good day passing.

    The Horned Frogs are 0-5 this year when giving up 200 or more yards through the air.

    Meanwhile, Will Grier has thrown for 300 or more yards in every game but one this season.

    And Grier is just one 300 passing yard performance away from tying Geno Smith for the most in school history at 17.

    Gary Patterson’s defense is the best against the pass in the Big 12, only allowing 190.7 yards through the air on average. But when opposing teams go over that, it’s been bad news for TCU.

    Average offense

    The 41 points allowed to Texas last week was the most given up in a game this year by Tony Gibson’s defense. The 354 passing yards also the most yards through the air allowed in a game this season.

    The good news is, the Horned Frogs haven’t been explosive on offense, averaging nearly 100 yards of offense fewer per game than the Mountaineers.

    The Horned Frogs are middle of the road in the Big 12, offensively, across the board.

    TCU is seventh in the conference in total yards (393.2) and rushing yards (153.1) per game, eighth in passing yards (240.1) per contest. Texas Christian is also sixth in third-down conversion percentage (42%), and tied for last in the conference in fourth-down conversions (33%).


    Winning the turnover battle is key. This is a game to do so for WVU.

    Texas Christian’s offense has fumbled a Big 12-high 19 times this year, losing eight.

    West Virginia’s opponents have put the ball on the ground 15 times this season, and WVU will look to bring out the turnover helmet a few more times this week.

    This will be low-scoring

    Despite the overall record of TCU, Gary Patterson still has a solid defense. Texas scored 31 points against the Horned Frogs in a game that was still one score until midway through the fourth quarter. Texas intercepted the ball and nearly ran it in, otherwise, the Horned Frogs would have held five of their last six opponents under thirty points. Oklahoma finally overwhelmed the Frogs but Patterson held Texas Tech and Iowa State under 20 points.

    Last year, Patterson employed a zone press scheme where his corners would start off the ball then switch to pressing at the last moment. This confused Grier for most of the first half before we began to see places we could exploit the game. Still, after scoring 100 points the last two weeks, expect a lower scoring game this week.

    West Virginia will stay ahead of the chains

    Taking a look at TCU’s defensive footprint, two major things jump out at me: TCU is below average on Passing Down run rate and the Frogs are below average in Havoc Rate. What this tells me is that West Virginia will find itself staying ahead of the chains a lot of times. TCU isn’t creating a lot of 2nd and 3rd and long situations which allows the team have plays at its disposal. When it is forced to pass, teams are able to gain a good amount of yards on run plays in long situations.

    TCU does do a good job of creating some havoc with their defensive linemen, but overall, they are swarming to the ball after the play has started. This will keep the team on pace.

    You’ll see the Turnover Helmet

    The one negative about the Texas game was that we didn’t generate any turnovers. That won’t be the case this week against TCU who ranks near the bottom in turnovers. On offense their expected turnover margin would rank as 130th in the nation while their actual ranks 126th. That’s bad y’all. Shawn Robinson has thrown 8 interceptions while Michael Collins has thrown 2. Their two main running backs, Darius Anderson and Sweo Olonilua, have fumbled four times losing two while Shawn Robinson has fumbled three times losing one. You’ll get to see Kenny Robinson don the Miner’s helmet and but on some swag.
    Last edited by Ratpenat; 08-11-2018 at 17:52.

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    Wvu vs. Tcu: Recap

    Mountaineers Cruise by Horned Frogs in Morgantown

    Week 11 of the college football season brought a cold front to Morgantown as the Mountaineers (7-1, 5-1) played host to the TCU Horned Frogs (4-5, 2-4). The Mountaineers received to begin the game and were held to a three and out. TCU was able to get on the board first after driving the ball to WVU 13-yard line. Kicker, Jonathan Song, knocked the ball through the uprights giving the Horned Frogs an early 3-0 lead. WVU kicker, Evan Staley, tied the game back up on the following drive on a kick that banked off the upright. Much of the first quarter of play was a battle of punts and field position. Offensive productivity was low.

    The score was 3-3 to begin the second quarter. Will Grier threw an interception at the TCU 28-yard line but the Horned Frogs were unable to capitalize off the turnover. With the ball back, Kennedy McKoy was able to break free for a 33-yard touchdown run for the first touchdown of the game making the score 10-3. The immediate kickoff following was bobbled by TCU and fumbled. The Mountaineers’, Exree Loe, was able to recover the ball on the TCU 17-yard line giving the offense great field position. Martell Pettaway was able to pound the ball in from the 1-yard line 5 plays later giving WVU a 17-3 lead with 3:45 left to play in the half. TCU took over the following drive on their 12-yard line and was held to a three and out. The offense was starting to come alive late in the second quarter. The Mountaineers took over with just over 2 minutes in the first half. A long run from Pettaway brought WVU down to the Horned Frog’s 32-yard line. From there, Grier found a wide-open Travon Wesco for a 32-yard touchdown. West Virginia lead 24-3 at the half.

    The third quarter opened with TCU backed up on their goal line. Quarterback, Michael Collins, was penalized for intentional grounding in the end zone resulting in a safety. The Mountaineers were awarded 2 points and the ball as they lead 26-3. Following a 53-yard Grier to Marcus Simms completion the Mountaineers had the ball on the Horned Frogs’ 9-yard line. Kennedy McKoy took two attempts to find the end zone for the second time of the game adding to WVU’s lead 33-3. TCU caught a break when they recovered a punt that bounced off a West Virginia player setting them up on the WVU 33-yard line. They were able to find the end zone for the first time of the game off the extended drive. Collins found his favorite receiver, Jalen Reagor, for a 28-yard touchdown making the score 33-10. The Mountaineers put the deficit right back where it was at 11 plays later. Grier targeted 4 different receivers on the drive including Gary Jennings from 8-yards out to make the score 40-10 with 1:25 left in the third quarter.

    To begin the fourth quarter, Grier found Wesco twice on the 10-play drive giving Wesco 97 yards on the day so far. Their connections set up a Grier to Sills V touchdown from 4-yards out. The Mountaineers continued to route the Horned Frogs with the score 47-10. This was Grier’s last offensive series of the day. The Mountaineer defense came up with another turnover at the hands of Exree Loe on the following series. West Virginia hung on to the ball for the last 3:45 left in the game and came away with the 47-10 win over the Horned Frogs in Morgantown.

    Grier finished the game 25-39 for 343-yards and 3 touchdowns. David Long Jr lead the way for the Mountaineers defensively with 6 tackles, 3 sacks, and 4 TFL’s. “I’m happy with the way we played. Our goal is to be 8-1. We’re 8-1. I like the way we changed our mindset offensively in the second half. Will was able to control the pace of the game. Travon Wesco is getting better every game. Really good defensive effort as well,” said Head coach Dana Holgorsen on today’s win.

    The Mountaineers improve to 8-1 while the Horned Frogs fall to 4-6. WVU will travel to Stillwater, OK, next week to take on the Oklahoma St. Cowboys. A time and broadcast network have yet to be determined.

    Grading The Mountaineers: TCU Report Card

    West Virginia got off to a slow start. Its defense gave up a scoring drive on TCU’s first possession, and the WVU offense struggled for the first 21 minutes.

    But after that, it all turned the Mountaineers’ way, as they ran up a 47-10 victory over the Horned Frogs.

    Let’s grade West Virginia’s effort.

    Offensive Grade – B+ West Virginia’s offense had just two first downs in the opening quarter, and was shutout in the initial 15 minutes of play for the first time this season. The Mountaineers continued to struggle to figure out the TCU defense through the first seven and a half minutes of the second quarter, but once WVU got things deciphered, the floodgates opened. West Virginia scored touchdowns on four straight drives over the course of the last portion of the second quarter and the early part of the third. After that the only drama was how high WVU’s final score would go. A few dropped passes were the Mountaineers’ only real offensive negative once things started rolling.

    Defensive Grade – A WVU allowed the Horned Frogs 65 total yards on their opening drive. TCU managed just 49 more yards in its next six possessions over the remainder of the first half. Texas Christian quarterback Mike Collins got increasing more uncomfortable as the game progressed, and West Virginia’s pressure started to swarm him, sacking him four times. The Mountaineers completely throttled the TCU running attack, which netted minus seven yards. Statistically that’s the best WVU has defended the run since it limited Maryland to minus 10 yards in a 31-17 win over the Terps in Morgantown in 2010.

    Special teams – B TCU mishandled a kickoff, which West Virginia’s Exree Loe was only too happy to scoop up. That turnover proved to be a huge momentum changer. The Mountaineer lead was a slim 10-3 at that point, but they outscored Texas Christian 37-7 after that. WVU did have a turnover when a short Horned Frog punt hit the back of Keith Washington’s foot. It was bad luck, but it was also a miscue that could be deadly in a closer game.

    Coaching – A West Virginia probably was caught in a bit of an emotional hangover from the Texas win at the start of the TCU game. But once WVU hit its stride, it just steamrolled the visitors. After the Horned Frogs’ opening drive, Tony Gibson’s Mountaineer defense dominated. Also give WVU offensive coordinator Jake Spavital credit for being patient. West Virginia’s run game, particularly its bread-and-butter inside zone, had trouble gaining traction in the first 20 minutes, but Spavital stuck with it, and eventually it paid off. In addition Spavital’s decision to speed up the tempo in the second quarter worked out very well.

    Atmosphere – B The afternoon in Morgantown was blustery with the temperature topping out at 36 degrees, but the sun shined brightly throughout the afternoon, helping to mitigate the chill. The cold didn’t cause many no-shows, outside of some empty space in the student section, in a contest that was sold out, but for the most part the crowd was boisterous. Not everyone got the message of the “True Blue” promotion, as flecks of gold dotted the sea of navy. In all, the 60,007 at Mountaineer Field were fairly loud and enjoyed their next-to-last opportunity to see Will Grier, Gary Jennings, David Sills and the other WVU seniors play at Mountaineer Field.

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    Wvu vs. Oklahoma state: Preview

    No. 9 WVU at Oklahoma St. Game Preview


    Date: November 17, 2018

    Time: 3:30pm EST

    Venue: Boone T. Pickens Stadium, Stillwater, OK

    How to Watch/Listen

    TV: ABC

    Streaming: WatchESPN app

    Radio: You can listen to the Mountaineer Sports Network from IMGon TuneIn Radio.

    When we have the ball..

    Players to watch: DE Jordan Brailford, DE/LB Calvin Bundage, LB Justin Phillips, S Malcolm Rodriguez, S Kenneth Edison-McGruder, CB A.J. Green

    Defining success: Protect the absolute hell out of Will

    There’s no need to mince words here: Oklahoma State’s defense has been bad this year. And really, they should feel bad. They’re hovering near the bottom of the conference in most major statistical categories, and as I touched on a minute ago, they don’t dazzle in the advanced metrics either, ranking in the 41st percentile nationally in Havoc Rate and 16th percentile in Big Play Percentage. It’s something of a microcosm of their season really, where they’ve been nowhere near as good they should be considering the amount of individual talent that they have over there.

    The Pokes base scheme features your standard four-down front, and they’ll be one of the better teams we’ve seen at all four positions. Jordan Brailford has been an absolute terror at defensive end, leading the conference with 9 sacks and ranking 2nd behind David Long with 15.5 TFL, while Jarrell Owens, Brailford’s partner on the other side, has chipped in with 5 sacks and 8.5 TFL of his own. Another guy to watch up there is edge specialist Calvin Bundage. Bundage has been battling an ankle injury for a few games now, but he’s an absolute handful athletically and has been very productive when he’s on the field.

    The second level is almost as talented as the front. Justin Phillips is the anchor at linebacker and leads the team in tackles, but keep your eyes peeled for Kenneth Edison-McGruder, as well. Edison-McGruder asserts himself as an extremely active box safety, and anybody who watched Bedlam last weekend surely noticed #3 - the guy was making plays all over the field and even picked up a couple of sacks on the elusive Kyler Murray.

    The secondary has talent, but has without a doubt been their problem area this year. Despite the return of AJ Green and the rise of Malcolm Rodriguez, Oklahoma State is allowing big plays through the air on 13.8% of passing snaps, which lands them in the 13th percentile nationally. That should worry them against us, but only if we’re able to keep those talented pass rushers away from Will. That’s the key for us this week. Their ability to generate pressure without blitzing is tantamount to their defensive success, but if we’re able to protect Will then I don’t think we’ll have trouble moving the ball and putting up points.

    When they have the ball...

    Players to watch: QB Taylor Cornelius, RB Justice Hill, RB Chuba Hubbard, WR Tylan Wallace, WR Tyron Johnson, WR Dillon Stoner

    Defining success: Don’t give Cornelius time to breathe

    No need to mince words here either: Oklahoma State’s offense is one of the best in the country. Top 15 nationally in points and yards per game, and even better than that in terms of generating explosive plays. Gibby and Co have their work cut out for them tomorrow; this is arguably the best group we’ve played this year.

    At quarterback, Taylor Cornelius has acquitted himself as well as a first-year starter could be expected to. He’s given them about 85% of the production that the dearly departed Mason Rudolph did a year ago, which is to say that he’s top 10 nationally in yards per game and has thrown 23 touchdowns. He’s also reasonably effective on the ground where he’s chipped in with 7 touchdowns on 88 carries. One area where he’s left a little to be desired is with his accuracy. 61% completions isn’t bad on its face, especially considering how much they push the ball down the field, but it's been a highly erratic 61% and definitely falls well short of what they’ve been accustomed to over the last few years. More on that in a second.

    The rest of their skill positions are every bit as talented as ours. Filling out the backfield is the familiar face of Justice Hill, who in my opinion is right up there with David Montgomery in the conversation for Big 12’s best running back, and the delightfully named Chuba Hubbard, who's had a very nice freshman year in a third down back type of role. Both guys average around 6 yards per carry and are tough to get on the ground in space. Out wide, Tyron Johnson and Dylan Stoner are both back and having productive years, but it's actually breakout star Tylan Wallace that we need to be most worried about. Wallace averages nearly 20 yards per reception and has quickly become one of the better big play receivers in the conference, so we'll need to be very aware of where he is at all times. One positive to note here is that none of these guys are taller than 6'0 or 6'1, whereas most of the guys who've given us trouble this year have had considerable size advantages over our corners.

    As for the hogmalies, their line is without doubt the weak link of the offense. The Cowboys rank last in the conference in both sacks and tackles for loss allowed, and that's where I think we have to take advantage of them.

    Simply put, we have to get into their backfield and get after Cornelius. Much like our own offense, Oklahoma State has too much skill position talent to try and worry about everyone, and much like us, it's much easier to slow them down if you can cut them off at the source. In their five wins Cornelius is completing 66% of his passes at a clip of 10.1 yards per attempt; in their five losses those numbers drop to 56% and 7.7 Y/A. In my mind that makes bothering him priority number one. We'll have to bring our big boy pants up front to stop Hill and Hubbard, as well, but if we can get to Cornelius early with some of those jailbreak blitzes and make him uncomfortable, it greatly improves our chances of slowing them down and ultimately winning the game.

    Special Teams

    Defining Success:

    We’ve been much better this year with regards to controlling field position (shout out to Dana for that wily timeout in the 3rd quarter last weekend to force TCU to punt into the wind), and that will obviously be something to watch this weekend, as well, but what I’m interested in is are we able to keep them out of the end zone when they get down into the red zone? They’ve been excellent this year at finishing their drives with touchdowns, but when they haven’t, their kicker has been a bit shaky. It feels like there might be some game-swinging potential there if we’re able to force field goals and get lucky with a miss or two.

    5 questions for West Virginia in Stillwater

    It’s gotta be a shootout, right?

    The Mountaineers rank 10th nationally in scoring offense (40.9) and the Cowboys stand 13th (39.2). Both units also are elite in terms of that sometimes overlooked stat, yards-per-play, with WVU averaging 7.26 and OSU putting up 6.64.

    Will Grier and Taylor Cornelius are two of the most efficient quarterbacks in the Big 12 (trailing only Kyler Murray), and each can target a Biletnikoff semifinalist. Plus, both offenses are somewhat balanced by top-50 rushing attacks.

    Can we just say the first team to 45 wins?

    Not so fast, my friend.

    The under has been the strong play in four of the last five meetings — last year’s 50-39 OSU win being the exception.

    Can we stop asking Dana Holgorsen to ruminate on Stillwater?

    OK, that was a rhetorical question, with a bit of pleading inserted.

    The annual rite of WVU-Oklahoma State week features a media member questioning Holgorsen about the impact of his season under Mike Gundy.

    It happened again Tuesday, leading to a classically dismissive Holgorsen response:

    “I can’t remember, it was too long ago. I’ve been here eight years now, right? My one year in Stillwater was nine years ago in a hotel room. I don’t remember a lot about it.”

    Actually, his “year” in Stillwater amounted to only 11 months. Gundy announced on Jan. 15, 2010, that he was bringing aboard Holgorsen as offensive coordinator. By Dec. 16, 2010, West Virginia announced it had hired Holgorsen as its coach-in-waiting.

    How much starch do the Pokes have left?

    They’re ninth in the Big 12 standings. Their best postseason scenario involves a middling bowl. They delivered a valiant effort in Norman last week and came home with nothing to show for it.

    It’s difficult to envision the Cowboys being emotionally stimulated at this point.

    There is the Senior Day X-factor, though.

    “We are going to make sure this is the best memory of [the seniors’] last home game and make it worth it,” OSU cornerback Rodarius Williams said. “We are going to put up a fight. We are going to compete every play and make those guys feel us.”

    West Virginia has much more at stake, including a berth in the Big 12 championship game and an outside shot at the CFP.

    Where are the holes in Oklahoma State’s defense?

    Well, they’re sorta everywhere, with the exception of top-flight defensive end Jordan Brailford.

    Last season, OSU gave up 29.4 points and 409 yards per game, which effectively ended the run of longtime coordinator Glenn Spencer.

    Gundy’s decision to bring in Duke’s Jim Knowles hasn’t immediately paid off: The Cowboys are now allowing 31.7 points and 426 yards.

    Thanks Branford, sacks are up substantially (from 2.3 per game to 3.6). But turnovers have plummeted.

    Last year’s defense produced 24 takeaways, including five in Morgantown where Grier was intercepted four times. This season, OSU has a meager 10 takeaways, ranking 113th nationally.

    Who should WVU fans cheer: Texas or Iowa State?

    You need flash cards to sort out the scenarios involving four teams fighting for two spots in the Big 12 title game.

    If you have faith in West Virginia winning its final two regular-season games, root for Texas. That potentially would set up a Mountaineers-Longhorns rematch in Arlington, which avoids back-to-back games against Oklahoma.

    If you predict WVU beating OSU but losing to the Sooners, root for Texas. That allows West Virginia to avoid the head-to-head tiebreaker against Iowa State.

    However, if you foresee WVU losing at OSU and then beating OU, root for the Cyclones this week. That could pave the way to a West Virginia-Iowa State rematch on Dec. 1.
    Last edited by Ratpenat; 16-11-2018 at 23:28.

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    Wvu vs. Oklahoma state: Recap

    WVU Meltdown In Stillwater Leads To Disappointing Loss

    Just like the Mountaineers, it started out as a warm afternoon in Stillwater, but things got progressively chillier as the day progressed.

    After rushing for 162 yards in the first half, West Virginia managed just 27 in the second. That first half rushing onslaught was led by WVU’s Kennedy McKoy who had 131 yards on 13 carries in the opening 30 minutes but he managed just 17 more yards in the second half on eight attempts.

    That hot and cold trend was countered by Oklahoma State, which started out with 208 total yards of offense – 119 passing and 89 rushing – in scoring 14 first half points. But the Cowboys warmed up when it counted, and amassed 219 passing yards, 177 rushing yards and most importantly 31 points in the second half to pull out the 45-41 victory.

    “Congratulation to Coach (Mike) Gundy and Oklahoma State. They’ve been in a lot of these (high-scoring games), and you could tell they had a better mindset down the stretch than we did,” noted WVU head coach Dana Holgorsen, whose club dropped to 8-2 overall and 6-2 in the Big 12 Conference with the loss. “It’s disappointing that we couldn’t close them out. We had them on the ropes but didn’t close them out. Great teams close people out. We didn’t do it. We’re going to have to regroup and go out next week and see what we’re made of.”

    Next week will bring Oklahoma to Mountaineer Field for a Friday night affair. A spot in the Big 12 championship game will be on the line, as the winner will go to AT&T Stadium in Arlington on Dec. 1 where it will likely play Texas. The loser of the Black Friday clash in Morgantown will probably be out of the Big 12 title game hunt, though there are scenarios where the Sooners could go to Arlington even if it falls to WVU.

    Because Texas defeated Iowa State Saturday night, West Virginia could have locked up a spot in Big 12 championship game if it had defeated Oklahoma State in Stillwater. But the Cowboys put an end to that immediate path for WVU by controlling the pace throughout the second half and thwarting several Mountaineer scoring opportunities.

    “If you can’t convert third- and fourth-and-an-inch, you’re going to get beat,” stated Holgorsen. “The quarterback run game with third-and-(one) in the red zone (when Will Grier fumbled) was stupid.”

    Despite short-yardage struggles, West Virginia’s offense still posted 553 yards and 41 points. But in a shootout against a Cowboy club capable of scoring in bunches, WVU couldn’t squander any opportunities if it hoped to pull out the win, and the Mountaineers came up empty on three-of-seven red zone chances.

    “I think we left probably 14 points out there,” explained Holgorsen. “When you’re in the red zone and can’t punch it in, if you’re a great offense, you can’t do that. I guess we’re not a great offense, because we couldn’t do that.

    “We knew that they were going to score a lot of points. That’s who they are,” continued WVU’s head coach, who fell for the fifth time in seven meetings with Oklahoma State since taking over the Mountaineer program in 2011. “Their average Big 12 game is 40-39. They’ve been in all kinds of these games. We haven’t. But we knew we were going to have to score a lot of points. It was disappointing that we were down there as much as we were, had a lot of good field position and we couldn’t close out with points.”

    While West Virginia’s offense was leaving points on the field, Oklahoma State’s own attack was scoring almost at will in the second half. The Cowboy offense had the ball for six possessions in the final 30 minutes, and it scored four touchdowns and one field goal in those opportunities, as it was only forced to punt once.

    “They spread us out, and we had too many guys blow assignments and miss tackles,” said WVU defensive coordinator Tony Gibson. “It was an ugly second half. I thought the first half we came out and played well, created turnovers and created momentum. We certainly didn’t do any of that in the second half.”

    Another game, another season, another oh so close to something really special …

    If the Mountaineers can bounce back and beat Oklahoma, maybe that will salvage some of it, but it won’t be the same.

    It never is.

    Grading The Mountaineers: OSU Report Card

    Let’s grade West Virginia’s effort in Stillwater.

    Offensive Grade – C WVU posted 41 points and 553 yards in the contest, but in the end, that wasn’t enough. The Mountaineers left too many points on the field against an Oklahoma State offense capable of generating incredible numbers itself. This was a classic shootout, and West Virginia scored five touchdowns and two field goals. But it was stopped with no points twice inside the OSU 18, and that doesn’t count the last-gasp opportunity that ended at the 14 with an incompletion in the end zone as time expired. The Mountaineers also ran for 162 yards in the first half but just 27 in the second. WVU head coach Dana Holgorsen said it best after the tough loss – “We had a chance to close them out and we didn’t. Great teams close people out, and we didn’t do that.”

    Defensive Grade – D West Virginia got stops and turnovers in the first half. A pair of interceptions and a fumble recovery, as well as forcing four OSU punts, had the Mountaineers sitting with a comfortable 17-point halftime lead. But as West Virginia’s offense began to sputter in the second half, its defense began to get torched. Of the 604 yards amassed by the Cowboys in the game, 396 came in the second half. OSU’s quarterback Taylor Cornelius hurt the Mountaineers as much with his feet as his arm. He ran for 86 yards in the second half and 106 in the game, while throwing for 338 yards in total. Other than a turnover on a muffed punt late in the third quarter, West Virginia’s defense managed just one other stop in the second half. The WVU offense could have help out its defensive brethren, but the Mountaineer defense did little to help itself.

    Special teams – B- There were positives and negatives to West Virginia’s special teams’ effort. A partially blocked punt was the worst of the negatives, but it at least rolled for 26 yards, keeping it from being awful. The biggest positive was recovering an OSU muff when OK State’s Dillon Stoner tried to catch a bouncing punt. Josh Chandler recovered for WVU, but the Mountaineer offense couldn’t completely cash in the gift, settling for a field goal on a drive that started on the Cowboys’ 18.

    Coaching – D When a team wins the turnover battle 4-1, it simply isn’t supposed to lose. Yet West Virginia managed to defy those odds despite being +3 in turnover margin. WVU’s defensive coaches couldn’t figure out anything to slow down the Cowboys in the second half, and the Mountaineers’ short yardage offense remains an issue. Twice Saturday it failed to convert when facing a yard or less to go. Then clinging to a 41-38 lead late, Dana Holgorsen’s decision to go for it on fourth-and-six was thwarted by a false start penalty on senior David Sills. Lack of focus by the player also has to be shouldered by the coaches.

    Atmosphere – B- It was a near perfect afternoon weather-wise in Stillwater. The temperature at kickoff was 64, and while it dropped a good bit the course of the game, it remained a nice mid-November day. Despite the excellent fall weather in central Oklahoma, Boone Pickens Stadium had large swaths of empty seats. Oklahoma State students were on the front end of their Thanksgiving break, so their absence was understandable. Still, the 56,790-seat stadium was barely half full at the start, and 50 percent of those left at halftime. Those who departed missed a memorable comeback in OSU annals. When a fan base is used to 10+ win seasons, as the Cowboys have enjoyed in six of the previous eight years, a fall to .500 is met with apathy even on Senior Day.

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    West virginia vs. Oklahoma: Preview

    #13 West Virginia vs #6 Oklahoma


    Date: November 23, 2018

    Time: 8:00pm EST

    Venue: Mountaineer Field, Morgantown, WV

    How to Watch/Listen

    TV: ABC

    Streaming: WatchESPN app

    Radio: Click HERE for a complete list of radio affiliates in West Virginia. If you live outside of the state, or don’t live close enough to a radio affiliate, you can listen to the Mountaineer Sports Network from IMGon TuneIn Radio.

    Know Your Enemy

    Series History: (2-8). We haven't beaten Oklahoma in a decade. Not gonna lie, it's getting old.

    Record: (10-1, 7-1). The lone blemish is against Texas, which based on the transitive property of sports victories means that theoretically we can beat them. Jokes aside, they're really good.

    Head Coach: Lincoln Riley. Riley is like the Bizarro Peter Gibbons from Office Space - every year that he coaches an offense, that offense is the best offense of his life. And ours. Enjoy him while you have him, Sooners.

    Offensive Coordinator: Bill Bedebaugh, Shane Beamer, and Cale Gundy. A couple of familiar names here. I actually really like Oklahoma's offensive coaching structure - they list all three of these guys as Coordinators, but all three have their own individual areas of focus. I wonder if there's a lesson for Dana to learn here that might let him get back into calling plays without losing sight of his other head coaching responsibilities?

    Defensive Coordinator: Ruffin McNeil. McNeil took over for Mike Stoops midway through this season, but while he's noticeably shifted some things schematically, there hasn't been any real uptick in productivity. Perhaps that's just life in the Big 12.

    When we have the ball..

    Players to watch: DE Kenneth Mann, DE/LB Mark Jackson Jr, LB Kenneth Murray, LB Curtis Bolton, CB Tre Norwood

    Defining success: Run it down their damn throats

    Oklahoma's defense is a relatively unspectacular compliment to the other side of the ball. They're below average nationally in terms of points and yards allowed and they're downright dreadful at forcing turnovers, but they've actually been better than average at preventing big plays. There's no doubt that they have talent, but either due to the coaching change or injuries or this simply being a rebuilding year, that talent hasn't performed at quite the level we've come to expect over the last several years.

    Up front they're probably a step below what we've seen from the rest of our November opponents, but Kenneth Mann and Mark Jackson are both productive players on the edge. They've had to deal with some injuries in the secondary, but are decent-if-inexperienced back there. The Tre's Norwood and Brown are good players at corner, and freshman nickelback Brendan Radley-Hiles always seems to make plays when I watch them play. One area where they're very good though is at linebacker, where Murray and Bolton are both very active and well over 100 tackles on the year.

    On that note though, if we can get our interior lineman to those linebackers I think we can have some success running the ball on them. They've given up over 300 yards on the ground twice this year, and four of the five teams that have played them tough (Army, Texas, Oklahoma State, and Kansas) did so with the help of an effective ground attack. We need to try to do the same tomorrow, not only because our offense is at its best when the run is established, but also because it will keep Kyler and Co off the field and give our defense a breather. If we can approach the success we've had against them on the ground the last two years and combine it with some peak Grier through the air, we have more than enough to trade punches with them and give ourselves a chance to win.

    When they have the ball...

    Players to watch: QB Kyler Murray, RB Trey Sermon, RB Kennedy Brooks, WR Marquise Brown, WR CeeDee Lamb, TE/WR Grant Calcaterra

    Defining success: Contain Kyler when things break down

    I'll let Oklahoma's numbers and where they rank nationally do my job for me for a minute before we dive into their personnel: 49.5 points per game (1st), 4.2 points per possession (1st, and for context, only 25 teams in the country average over 3.0), 576.1 yards per game (1st), 8.8 yards per play (1st, and to again hammer home how ridiculous this is, only 9 teams in the country are over 7.0), 23.5% big play run percentage (1st), 18.2% big play pass percentage (3rd, finally), and 21.3% big play percentage overall (1st, and nobody else is over 20%). So I guess you could say that they're pretty good.

    As for their personnel, they have NFL-caliber talent at nearly every position. Trey Sermon has stepped in for the injured Rodney Anderson without missing a single beat, and he somehow may not even be the most talented runner on the team when you consider that freshman Kennedy Brooks is averaging a ridiculous 9.9 yards per carry. Out wide they have at least three guys who will be playing on Sunday in the coming years, but the two headliners are Hollywood Brown and CeeDee Lamb, both of whom are complete receivers capable of beating you both before and after the catch. Up front, they're every bit as good as you'd expect a bunch of high-level recruits being coached by Bill Bedenbaugh to be. Everything starts though, with quarterback Kyler Murray.

    The easiest way to describe the year that Murray is having is probably to just say that their offense is even better now statisically than it was with Baker Mayfield setting efficiency records in each of the past two seasons. Murray has been almost as accurate as Baker was last year and has probably even been slightly better in terms of pushing the ball downfield, averaging an absolutely ridiculous 11.9 yards per attempt. He's also a much more willing runner and effective runner than Mayfield was (104 carries, 739 yards, 10 touchdowns), which has certainly added another dimension to their already stupid offense. And in case you were wondering, the answer is yes, those rushing numbers would all lead our team despite ranking just third on Oklahoma.

    In my opinion, Murray is where our focus needs to be, and specifically, containing him when things break down. Oklahoma is so good and so balanced that really we can't expect our #Dawgs to do much more than make them work for it, but one thing we absolutely have to do is keep playing hard and win the plays that we've won, if that makes sense. What I mean by that is, they're going to hit their big plays, but if we call a blitz at the right time and get two guys with free runs at Murray, we have to get him on the ground. If we rush three and lock them down in coverage on a 3rd and 11, we cannot let him scramble for 12. Win the plays we've won. If we do that, we have a fighting chance. If we don't, and he's able to scramble around and buy time and do the Mike Vick thing, it's going to be a very long evening.

    Special Teams

    Defining Success: Cover our butts off

    Oklahoma has very good specialists pretty much everywhere, but we need to be especially sound on punt and kick coverage this week. Both of their guys back there are home run hitters, and allowing a big return in this game, let alone consistently decent field position, would be backbreaking.

    5 questions to get you primed for WVU vs. Oklahoma

    Is this a defining moment for Dana Holgorsen?

    He claims “this ain’t a do-or-die situation for me or this program.” In reality, that’s precisely what it is.

    We’re at the tail end of Year 7 for West Virginia in the Big 12, and Holgorsen’s program has finished higher than fifth only once. After such an extended run of mediocrity, the fans expected Will Grier and a loaded offense to carry this year’s team to the Big 12 championship game.

    That achievement already could’ve been secured had WVU not blown a 17-point lead at Oklahoma State. Now, the only foreseeable path to Arlington involves beating the Sooners.

    Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley alluded to the promise this season held for the Mountaineers, saying “it was kind of set up for them” with Grier and David Sills returning a seniors. It didn’t hurt that the nine-game round-robin schedule afforded WVU five home games. Two road stumbles have raised the stakes on this fifth and final game at Milan Puskar Stadium.

    Remember: Holgorsen was hired to elevate West Virginia, not merely lead it to a succession of minor bowl games.

    Holgorsen admitted Tuesday this is the first time the final week of the Big 12 schedule actually “means something” to the Mountaineers. Given that it took six years for that to happen, it means more than he’s letting on.

    Is Kyler Murray the fastest guy on either roster?

    With 104 carries for 739 yards, it’s conceivable that Murray — one of the nation’s top-rated passers — can also become a 1,000-yard rusher this season if OU makes the Big 12 championship game.

    While he prides himself on making throws from the pocket, Murray is dazzling to behold when plays break down. And Oklahoma’s game plan frequently includes a series of designed runs.

    So how fast was Murray when he last ran a 40 in the spring?

    “I think it was 4.3,” he said. “But it was hand-timed so I don’t how real that is.”

    Is Oklahoma’s defense atrocious or merely dreadful?

    Riley’s midseason firing of Mike Stoops didn’t magically transform the Sooners into sure-handed tacklers, though the boss contends effort has improved under Ruffin McNeil’s guidance.

    The most recent games still poetry a brutal defense with 46, 47 and 40 points allowed to Texas Tech, Oklahoma State and Kansas. Riley somehow managed to highlight a positive after the Jayhawks pile up 524 yards, including 348 on the ground.

    “I think we had one or two busts in the game, so we mentally played very clean,” he said. “But our yards after contact was off the charts. We’ve got to trigger and we’ve got to go make the plays. We played well schematically … but we’ve got to play more aggressive and better physically.”

    Current NCAA metrics for the Oklahoma defense: 86th in points allowed (30.7 per game) 87th in third-down stops (41 percent), 87 in yards allowed (425 per game), 94th in pass-efficiency defense, 125th in generating turnovers and 128th in red-zone defense.

    Can West Virginia’s defense hang on?

    Tony Gibson’s unit melted away while trying to defend 54 snaps in the second half at Oklahoma State. Now it must get at least a few stops against an OU offense that’s on pace to set an FBS record for yards per play.

    “By no means am I sitting here saying it’s undoable,” Gibson said. They’ve only punted 27 times all year. That’s the one where you say, ‘Whoa.’ Also they’re averaging 50 points a game — the list goes on and on. But what I like about it is it’s at home on a Friday night. Our kids will be juiced up. We’re not going to back down.”

    Gibson knows WVU needs a rare defensive effort, something replicating that hair-on-fire effort it gave against Baylor in 2014.

    How tangible is OU’s stranglehold on the Mountaineers?

    Among the Sooners’ six-year win streak, only one game has gone down to the wire — the 50-49 win in Morgantown in 2012. Oklahoma’s offensive line has proven dominant, paving the way for 300-plus rushing yards three of the last four meetings.

    “What gets me going is I love to take a grown man’s dreams, and I love to crush his dreams,” said guard Ben Powers, who started the previous two wins vs. West Virginia. Those were a 59-31 blowout last year and a 56-28 road win in 2016.

    Powers told me in July that Oklahoma’s offense would be better in 2018 than it was in 2017. Now he looks like a 313-pound prophet with a mean streak.

    “I love dominating, and that’s why I do what I do,” he said. “It’s fun to know that you’ve taken the breath out of someone and they don’t want to go no more. It’s fun to make someone quit. It’s fun putting your boot on someone’s throat.”

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    Wvu vs. Oklahoma: Recap

    Instant Recap: Pair of scoop-and-score touchdowns dooms West Virginia in season finale shootout

    If there’s one thing you can count on, it’s the West Virginia Mountaineers finding the most creative way to rip your heart out. This time it came in the form of two Will Grier fumbles that were recovered by the Oklahoma Sooners and returned for touchdowns.

    Those two touchdowns are what gave the Sooners the winning score, but it was a chickenshit defensive call by defensive coordinator Tony Gibson that allowed Oklahoma to escape Morgantown with that score intact. On 4th and 5, with just over two minutes left in the game, Gibson called a play that saw the Mountaineers only rush their three defensive linemen, allowing Kyler Murray to scramble around until he found a receiver on the left side of the field for the first down. The Sooners were able to kneel it out after that, and escaped with a 59-56 win.

    So where do we go from here?

    Conversations will have to be had. Can anyone honestly make a case for Tony Gibson to return as defensive coordinator after turning in that performance this evening? We’ve been beating the Jake Spavital drum during the latter part of this season, but the playcalling was mostly passable tonight. Would we be okay with Jake next season if we had a defense that could pick up the slack when Spav calls in boneheaded calls? Do we just reset both coordinators?

    There’s so many questions, but we now have plenty of time to figure them out as we sit by next week and watch the Big 12 Championship Game from home and await our bowl fate.

    Key Takeaways:

    1. Gary Jennings had a career night in his final game in Morgantown. He finished with 225 yards and 2 touchdowns on 7 receptions.
    2. David Sills V finished with 131 yards and 2 touchdowns on 8 receptions.
    3. Will Grier threw for 539 yards on 32-of-49 passing for 4 touchdowns. Grier didn’t throw any interceptions, but fumbled the ball twice with each resulting in a scoop-and-score touchdown for the Sooners.
    Last edited by Ratpenat; 24-11-2018 at 04:09.

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    Wvu vs. Syracuse: World camping bowl

    The 2018 college football bowl pairings are out, and the West Virginia Mountaineers will find themselves facing off with an old, familiar rival in a somewhat disappointing matchup - the Camping World Bowl against the Syracuse Orange on December 28th at 5:15PM ET on ESPN.

    The matchup will mark the 61st meeting between the two programs, and the Mountaineers’ fifth appearance in the Camping World Bowl. In their last post-season trip to Orlando, West Virginia suffered a 31-14 loss to the Miami Hurricanes in what was then known as the Russell Athletic Bowl. The Mountaineers last played the Orange in the 2012 New Era Pinstripe Bowl following West Virginia’s first season in the Big 12 Conference, and lost 38-14. West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen is 0-2 against Syracuse, so a win here would exorcise that demon and deliver the Mountaineers their third season with at least nine wins in the last eight years.

    The Mountaineers ended the regular season with an 8-3 record after their game against the N.C. State Wolfpack was cancelled due to Hurricane Florence, and finished fourth in the Big 12 Conference standings behind the Oklahoma Sooners, Texas Longhorns and Iowa St. Cyclones.

    Syracuse finished the season with a 9-3 record and 2nd in the ACC Atlantic Division behind the No. 2 ranked Clemson Tigers, their best showing under third-year head coach Dino Babers.

    The Ben Schwartzwalder Trophy is not expected to be on the line in the bowl game, just as it wasn’t played for in the 2012 Pinstripe Bowl.
    Last edited by Ratpenat; 12-12-2018 at 18:50.

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    Will Grier chooses to skip bowl game, will focus on NFL Draft

    The Camping World Bowl on December 28th in Orlando, Florida will mark the beginning of the post-Will Grier era of West Virginia Mountaineers football, as the senior signal caller will be forgoing bowl game preparation to focus on preparing for the NFL Draft. The news broke Saturday morning via a press release from the athletic department, with a special note to Mountaineer fans from Grier himself.

    Dear Mountaineer Family:

    Since arriving in Morgantown, Jeanne and I have been welcomed into the Mountaineer Family and we, along with Eloise, have been so blessed by the support and love of so many. I hope that, in return, you know that I have given my all and worked hard each and every day to help our football program and University.

    While we did not win every time we took the field, and I shoulder that responsibility, I can assure you that we tried. After discussions with Jeanne and my family, and after receiving professional input, I have decided not to participate in our upcoming bowl game and focus on preparing myself and my family for what I hope is the next step in our journey. I want to thank Coach Holgorsen, Coach Spavital and all of our coaches for believing in me and, most importantly, to my teammates, who are now lifelong friends who taught me the true meaning of TEAM.

    It has been an honor to wear the WVU uniform, and I sincerely thank all of Mountaineer Nation for allowing my family and I to be a part of something so special. Country roads, take me home…”

    - Will Grier

    Grier becomes the second Mountaineer to announce his intentions of skipping the bowl game against the Syracuse Orange, joining senior left tackle Yodny Cajuste.

    Grier finishes his Mountaineer career completing 516-of-785 passes for 7,354 yards and 71 touchdowns through the air and accounted for 76 total touchdowns. He threw for 300 or more yards in a school-record 19 games at WVU and had multiple touchdown games 20 times.

    Redshirt sophomore Jack Allison is expected to take control of the West Virginia offense when they take on the Orange later this month, giving Mountaineer fans a glimpse of what’s to come in 2019.

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    BREAKING: Dana Holgorsen leaving West Virginia after 8 seasons

    The second winningest head coaching tenure in West Virginia football history has come to an end.

    Dana Holgorsen will not be returning for his ninth season as Mountaineer head coach, sources tell us here at The Smoking Musket and now confirmed by SB Nation’s Steven Godfrey, and will instead become the next head coach of the Houston Cougars.

    Rumors of the move began to swirl late Friday night following West Virginia’s 34-18 loss to the Syracuse Orange in the Camping World Bowl, and picked up national media attention by Saturday afternoon.

    The move comes following a disappointing end to the 2018 season that saw a Mountaineer team primed for a Big 12 Championship game appearance inexplicably give up a seventeen point halftime lead against the Oklahoma State Cowboys, kicking off a three game losing skid.

    Holgorsen compiled a 61-41 record in his eight seasons in Morgantown, becoming the second all-time winning coach in program history - one win above Rich Rodriguez. Holgorsen finishes 2-5 in bowl games, with his only wins coming in the form of a 70-33 beating of the Clemson Tigers in the 2012 Discover Orange Bowl and a 43-42 win over the Arizona State Sun Devils in the Motel 6 Cactus Bowl following the 2015 season.

    Holgorsen’s move will leave him owing West Virginia University $1 million, which is likely to be paid by the University of Houston or Tilman Fertitta, Chairman of the University Board of Regents, himself. Holgorsen’s contract at Houston is expected to be a five-year agreement with his 2019 salary falling somewhere around the $4 million range, and an assistant salary pool around $3 million.

    Holgorsen is likely to take a number of Mountaineer assistants with him to Houston, most notably being wide receivers coach Tyron Carrier, who played under Holgorsen for the Cougars in 2008 and 2009. Offensive line coach Joe Wickline is another Mountaineer assistant possible to find a landing spot on the Cougars’ coaching staff. It’s unclear if any of the defensive staff will follow Holgorsen to Texas.

    West Virginia will immediately begin their search for a replacement, and will move as quickly as possible to fill the position. Rumored candidates include Troy Trojans head coach Neal Brown, Cincinnati Bearcats head coach Luke Fickell, Army Black Knights head coach Jeff Monken, UCF Knights head coach Josh Heupel and Alabama Crimson Tide offensive coordinator Dan Enos, among others.

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    Wvu vs. Syracuse: World camping bowl recap

    5 thoughts on West Virginia’s loss to Syracuse in the Camping World Bowl

    The West Virginia Mountaineers ended their disappointing season with another disappointing loss, this time at the hands of the Syracuse Orange in the Camping World Bowl on Friday, 34-18. Here are some thoughts on what transpired.

    1 - As of right now, Jack ain’t it

    Jack Allison’s performance in the Camping World Bowl didn’t exactly inspire confidence as we prepare to head into 2019. Allison finished 17-of-35 passing for 277 yards and an interception. There were more than a few passes that were just flat out bad, including missing a wide open Tevin Bush in the endzone near the end of the fourth quarter. That touchdown would’ve been called back due to Sills’ offensive pass interference, but you at least want to see your quarterback make that throw to his receiver anyway. Add in Allison’s lack of mobility, and you have the making of a disaster if there’s no improvement over the offseason.

    So, where does Dana Holgorsen turn? Do we head into the Spring expecting everything to work itself out and let Allison and Trey Lowe battle it out for the starting job? In the few times we got to see Lowe in at quarterback he at least looked mobile in the pocket. Lowe only attempted two passes, but completed both for zero yards. The idea of a true four-year starter in Dana Holgorsen’s offense is intriguing. We’ve seen how quarterback improve year-over-year in the system from Clint Trickett to Skyler Howard and then to Will Grier. Is it worth settling for another possible disappointing season with a redshirt freshman quarterback in 2019 if it means we are in a better position to win in 2020 and 2021?

    Personally, I think it’s time to go back to the transfer well - which has been the plan all along, to my understanding. The coaching staff intended on finding a guy with 2-3 years of eligibility left that could sit out next season before competing for the job in 2020. I think you may have to reevaluate that idea, and look for someone that can contribute right away if you’re not going to give Trey Lowe a realistic shot at taking the job from Allison.

    2 - That contract extension just got harder to sell to Shane Lyons

    Following the Oklahoma loss, Shane Lyons was noted as saying he believes contract extensions for the sake of recruiting purposes were not something he, as West Virginia athletic director, would be interested in handing out to coaches. Behind the scenes, Dana Holgorsen has been angling for an extension to the contract he signed following the 2016 season that expires in 2021. Had the Mountaineers reached their goal of making the Big 12 Conference championship game, an extension would’ve surely been on the table.

    That extension just became a tough sale following this evening’s loss to the Orange. Holgorsen is now likely to enter 2019 in a position similar to that he faced following the 2015 season, when he and Lyons mutually agreed to break off contract negotiations and reevaluate after the 2016 season. Fortunately for Dana, 2016 turned out to be rather positive, with the Mountaineers winning 10 games with Skyler Howard, landing Holgorsen that extension. I don’t see a similar turn of events happening this time around.

    3 - I’d love to spend the next few days in Shane Lyons’ mind

    Oh, to know what is going on up in that brain of his.

    There’s obviously going to be a very vocal segment of the West Virginia fanbase that screams “FIRE HOLGORSEN” from the rooftops after this loss. According to our FanPulse, that segment is the minority, but I expect that 76.9% polling on fan confidence in Dana Holgorsen to drop dramatically when we take the poll again next week.

    If you’re Lyons, you have to look at the big picture and evaluate on performance as a whole and not on a microcosm that consists of these last three games. As I said above, that contract extension seems rather unlikely after the bowl game, but does the thought to cut ties with Holgorsen after January 1st when his buyout drops $3 million cross his mind at all? Do you give him the benefit of the doubt and ride with him through what is probably going to be a rocky 2019 season, and reevaluate next December?

    If you stick with him, do you force another offensive coordinator on him and make Holgorsen give him the playcall duties, similar to what happened when Jake Spavital returned to Morgantown after 2016?

    I don’t envy the decision making that is going to have to take place, but I’d love to be there for when everything goes down.

    4 - Tackling will forever be an issue for the Mountaineers under Tony Gibson

    If there’s one thing that drives me absolutely insane about Tony Gibson’s defense, it’s the lack of tackling fundamentals. Gibson seemingly teaches his guys to attempt to force turnovers and in the process, form tackling goes to the wayside. I can’t even begin to count the times that a Mountaineer defender has had an opponent locked down and within reach, only to completely whiff on the tackle and allowing the player to break through for a huge gain.

    It happened time and time again in the Camping World Bowl and throughout this season, and I’m not sure it’s ever going to get any better unless Gibson stops putting an emphasis on turnovers and focuses specifically on the fundamentals.

    5 - Is David Sills a product of Will Grier?

    This question was posed by Matt Kirchner in our Slack channel, and I’m kinda leaning toward the affirmative on this one.

    Through four games in two seasons, Sills was mostly ineffective without Will Grier there to throw him the ball. This could be chalked up to Chris Chugunov being abjectly bad last season after Grier was injured but in those same games, Sills looked just as lost. That trend continued this evening in the Camping World Bowl, with Sills not making any impact in the game until that 48 yard reception in the fourth quarter. His lack of effectiveness was so obvious that the broadcast team repeatedly pointed out how absent Sills had been.

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    There and Back Again: A Holgo's Tale

    West Virginia is now at the beginning of its first true, honest to god coaching search since Don Nehlen retired after defeating a young Eli Manning and Ole Miss in the 2000 Music City Bowl. Strange to actually say that, but it’s true. Bill Stewart was promoted in a haze of glory in a strange prequel to The Hangover trilogy and the hire of Dana Holgorsen as the infamous offensive coordinator/head coach-in-waiting was an equally unilateral move by Oliver Luck to provide a spark of energy to a program that was winning, just not quite enough to win the country’s weakest power conference.

    And, while it seems like a lifetime ago (and, in coaching terms, really is), Dana Holgorsen did energize the fanbase. As a student during the three year Bill Stewart era, and a Senior when Holgorsen took over there was, to quote Jon Rothstein, palpable buzz on campus. Bill Stewart’s three year tenure came with a lofty winning percentage but a stale, boring brand of football and a complete lack of wins where it counted. West Virginia came in to each season with a clear talent advantage in the Big East and left with no hardware. To quote Kanye West in West Virginia’s first pregame intro video of the Holgorsen era “the socket was out the plug, now it’s time to bring the power back.”

    The power did come back, and it came back quickly. West Virginia had growing pains as Geno Smith and company adjusted to Holgorsen’s style of play, but won the games they needed to and won the Big East. What happened next was history, and the final act of Clemsoning before they became an unstoppable machine of war.

    The move to the Big 12 in his second season will be what defines his legacy and while the bookends of 2012 and 2018—mirror images of promise, excitement, and collapse—are the easy targets to go in on and definitely prevent his eight years in Morgantown from receiving any sort of “A” grade, I want to focus on the middle years and Holgorsen’s accomplishments beyond the wins and losses and how his tenure has set up the next man up to potentially complete the puzzle and shed the stigma of “winningest program to never win a national championship.”

    Dana had a complicated relationship with West Virginia fans and to me, it began with a crucial misunderstanding of how ill-prepared West Virginia was as a team and an athletic department to compete at league average in the Big 12 from the jump. The Mountaineers entered a whole new type of league completely bereft of depth from a pattern of recruiting mismanagement that became systemic. Initial requirements of JUCO and desperation transfers led to a horrid 2013 season that ended up being Holgorsen’s only missed bowl while at West Virginia and when you really sit down and look at West Virginia’s depth issues, that fact in and of itself may be a minor miracle.

    Holgorsen’s tenure saw an uptick of quality and quantity recruiting and the huge leap in West Virginia players in the National Football League that comes with it. The Mountaineers may have two players taken in the first round of the 2019 draft. Yes, wins did not come at the clip that anyone involved wanted and the program’s first Big 12 championship (and win over Oklahoma as a conference-mate) have evaded West Virginia and that will be the main legacy of Holgorsen’s era and what will be talked about ad nauseam. However, a program that can compete consistently at or above league average in a league with blue blood powerhouses like Oklahoma and Texas has emerged from the ashes of a team that could not complete recruiting classes or win a moribund Big East conference, and that is the gift that Dana Holgorsen leaves behind to his successor in Morgantown.

    The rocky relationship between Dana and Shane Lyons always seemed to cast a shadow over the workings of the football program as a whole, and now Lyons gets the chance to forge the partnership that Holgorsen once enjoyed with Oliver Luck. The ball now lies in his court to find the coach that can finish the job that Holgorsen could not complete.

    And, again, we wait.

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    What I Want In West Virginia’s Next Head Coach

    Now that the Dana Holgorsen Experience with the West Virginia Mountaineers if officially, finally over, and Athletic Director Shane Lyons is tasked with finding the person who can take WVU from just another Big 12 also-ran to a Big 12 title contender, I have a few things I want in this hire.

    Energize the Fan Base And Donors

    It is no secret that the Mountaineer fanbase was divided over the hire and employment of Dana Holgorsen. Some fans were put off on the way former athletic director Oliver Luck ushered him into the family, devising an ill-equipped “head-coach-in-waiting” scenario that led to blackmail attempts and the ultimate firing of Bill Stewart. Some fans were upset with the downfall of the program once it moved from Big East contenders to Big 12 wannabes. Many more were upset with the lack of performance in bowl games, lack of wins in night games, against ranked teams and/or lack of title game appearances. Whatever the reason, the fanbase was not fully behind Dana in the end and the next head coach needs to reinvigorate the fans. Season ticket buyers need a reason to believe in this team again and feel good about spending their money on the costly season tickets.

    More importantly, it seems that the money donors were not fully invested with Dana. Whether Dana made time for the donors or gave them enough reason to give money for projects and improvements. This is important if West Virginia wants to lure higher level recruits to Morgantown.


    For the Mountaineers to be competitive, they have to be out front of the latest trends. This isn’t Ohio State, Alabama or Oklahoma, who can take whatever trend has found its way to college football and apply it with elite talent.

    West Virginia needs a schematic advantage to beat teams with better talent. The Mountaineers had that advantage with Major Harris, a player who could run and throw when most teams were still in the ground-and-pound, “three yards and a cloud of dust” era. West Virginia had it again in the mid-2000s when Pat White, Steve Slaton and Owen Schmitt ushered in the zone-read, spread, up-tempo offense. The Mountaineers weren’t out front with Air Raid when they joined the Big 12. By the time the Mountaineers changed conferences, nearly every team in the conference was running the offense.

    What the next head coach can’t do is continue to try and beat teams like Oklahoma and Texas doing the same thing everything else is doing. I keep going back to the 2016 team. There is a reason that team won 10 games and its not all because the Big 12 was bad that year. Having a quarterback capable of speeding the game up and throwing the ball or slowing it down and running the ball allowed the offense to control the tempo of the game and protect the defense.

    Proven Winner

    Part of the problem with Holgorsen was that he needed to learn to be a head coach his first several years in Morgantown. He got better the last few years, paying more attention to the small details like when to call timeouts and force an opponent to punt into the wind for favorable field position or when to know you were going for the win and not taking a tie. Still, there were multiple head-scratching moments, and the Mountaineers shouldn’t have to pay for another on-the-job training.

    More than just having been a head coach, that coach needs to be a proven winner. Whoever is the head coach will be taking over a team that has shown it can compete with 9 of the ten teams in the conference. It can’t afford a backslide here and needs someone who continue to win games.

    Dynamite Recruiter

    This might be down the list, but ultimately it may be the most important. Some of y’all don’t like to hear it, but Dana was beginning to improve the overall recruitment of the Mountaineers. West Virginia is a tough place to recruit to. It does not have a natural influx of elite talent and the places it must pull talent from all have blue-blood schools that show up and flash a business card and a smile to secure the best talent.

    The Mountaineers recently made headway into Alliquippa, pulling players like Rushel Shell, Dravon Askew-Henry and Kwantel Raines from the football powerhouse in Pennsylvania. The Mountaineers have also made in-roads into the DC/VA area pulling Gary Jennings and Dillon Spalding from Virginia. Doug Belk has made a successful pipeline into the Peach State.

    That is great and those areas need to continue to be mined but instead of grabbing high three-star talent, we need to begin to pull in four-star talent. If you include this year’s class, Dana was able to secure 15 four-star recruits. Most of those did play for the Mountaineers, though Ford Childress, Brendan Ferns, and Jovon Durante didn’t play much due to circumstances. Others like Tyrek Cole, Donte Thomas-Williams and Steven Smothers essentially didn’t contribute to the team.

    The next head coach needs to be able to secure more than two four-star players per class if the Mountaineers are going to take the next step. He also needs to make sure those players see the field and contribute.

    Player Developer

    A place that Dana Holgorsen excelled, in my opinion, was player development. Dana placed 26 players into the NFL during his tenure with the Mountaineers and that doesn’t happen because these kids went to school at West Virginia. It happened because they came and developed into players who could contribute.

    While the head coach will need to bring in more talent, he is still not going to be swimming in blue-chip players. He is going to have to take three-star players and make them four-star athletes. Some coaches can convince all of the players to come to their school, but they can’t get those players to contribute and have them better than the day they stepped foot on campus. The next coach will need to make sure that the strength and development of players continues and that these players are able to pick up on schemes and systems, to provide the necessary explosive plays that win games in this league. Players need to be better when they leave than when they came. Unlock that untapped potential.

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    Sources: WVU to name Troy's Brown new head football coach

    MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - One of the most promising young college football coaches in the nation is expected to be named the new head coach at West Virginia.

    A WVU source has confirmed to West Virginia Illustrated that Troy head coach Neal Brown will become West Virginia's next head coach. The two sides are still working to come to terms on a contract.

    Brown will replace Dana Holgorsen, who is now the head coach at Houston after spending eight years in Morgantown.

    At Troy, Brown compiled a 35-16 record, including a perfect 3-0 mark in bowl games. The Trojans capped their 2018 campaign with a 42-32 win over Buffalo in the Dollar General Bowl.

    The 38-year-old Brown also led Troy to a share of the Sun Belt Conference title in 2017 with an 11-2 record.

    The Trojans finished 2018 at 10-3 overall, with their lone conference loss coming to eventual league champ Appalachian State in their final regular season game.

    The Trojans also upset several Power 5 programs during Brown’s tenure. In September 2017, Troy knocked off nationally ranked LSU on the road. Last season, it defeated Nebraska by five points.

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