By George O’Bryan –
Should the errors and mistakes we witnessed by WVU during the Maryland game be a concern as they take on Oklahoma at Milan Puskar Stadium this Saturday?
WVUSportsView.com takes a look at this in a two part series.
One concern I believe we can eliminate is what occurred during the last seconds of the game. After watching a video of the last second field goal repeatedly, it is obvious that Josh Lambert’s stutter step was not early, but timed with the snap of the football.
There was no illegal motion. The real concern is Lambert’s lack of consistency kicking field-goals. Hopefully, he will overcome that slump. Maybe the game winning kick at Maryland will give him a boost.
The two muffs by WR Jordan Thompson on punt returns is a serious problem, but Thompson’s inconsistent play has always been an issue except in practice.
One play he looks great, and on the next you wonder why he is on the field. Thompson’s inability to catch the ball cleanly and make sound decisions on punt returns is a real concern.
I have no problem with Clint Trickett’s two interceptions this season. Compared with the number of passes he has thrown and his completion rate, two interceptions are minimal.
Trickett has completed 101 of 135 passes this season for a total of 1224 yards. Even Payton Manning gets picked off once in a while.
Fumbles in the red-zone are a real concern. Rushel Shell had the ‘non-fumble’ in the red-zone against Alabama, and then he had a real fumble against Maryland in the red-zone.
Mario Alford had a fumble in the red-zone against Alabama and another against Maryland. And we have already mentioned the two muffed plays that Jordan Thompson had on special teams.
When it comes to running the ball, WVU is averaging 3.5 yards a carry. Since the national average for college teams since 2007 is only 4 yards a carry, that is just an area for improvement. A couple of long runs will increase that average.
Most of WVU’s yardage from run plays comes from rushing off the edge and not up the middle. WVU is averaging less than 3 yards a carry when running between the tackles. If this is not a concern, it should be.
The longest play this season when running up the middle came in the first quarter of the Alabama game, and it went for just over 10 yards. All the other running plays between the tackles have been for 3 yards or less, mostly less.
Maryland was able to totally control the Mountaineers’ running game in the second half, up until WVU’s final drive. Dustin Garrison, Andrew Buie, and even Dreamius Smith showed it could be done. They refused to lose, as well as the OL.
The problem may be a simple lack of experience on Shell’s part, and impatience for Wendell Smallwood. That is correctable. Sometimes a block takes a second to develop. They have to learn to read blocks, not just ram into a lineman’s back.
Next up, part two.