Why would you not have your best offensive player on the field for your first series and you are backed up near your own end-zone? Ask WVU, for this is exactly what they did. The offensive play-maker for WVU is RB Wendell Smallwood, and he was on the bench, and in his place was Rushel Shell III.
Then you turn around and only use Smallwood 3 times in the entire 2nd half and you are losing? Even in the OT, Smallwood wasn’t on the field. Smallwood may have gotten banged up on one of his three 2nd half runs, but I saw no evidence of this on the field. And even is he did, he could have handed the ball to Elijah Wellman, who had one catch in the game or Donte Thomas-Williams.
Bad quarterback play by Skyler Howard and penalties have been the primary reasons WVU lost first to Oklahoma and then to Oklahoma State. I wonder if Howard will say his problem was that he was too ramped up in the 1st half of the game.
WVU’s defense did its job, but received little help from the play of WVU’s lack-luster offense. Howard not only couldn’t hit the deep passes, but he couldn’t hit the short ones either. A fumble by Howard in the end-zone led to the Cowboys first touch-down. Howard had a 2nd fumble which WVU recovered, and he threw a pass to Jordan Thompson who was in double-coverage which was intercepted.
Fans on Twitter were calling for Howard to be pulled. But for some reason Holgorsen is apparently determined to have a Texas QB. Howard is the 3rd QB from Texas that Holgorsen has brought in, and none have been successful.
When Nick O’Toole first came to WVU he made a name for himself, and played well, but punting into the end-zone doesn’t help WVU when they want to pin an opponent between the end-zone and 10-yard line. Maybe O’Toole isn’t the punter that many thought he’d become.
WVU had over 100-yards in penalties against the Cowboys; this and Howard’s inability to throw accurate passes did nothing to help WVU against Oklahoma State. Howard complete 18 of 35 passes for 188 yards with 1 interception and 1 lost fumble (in WVU end-zone) which gives him a Quarterback Rating of 100.5 and a completion ration of 51.4 percent. He did connect on one 50-yard TD pass to Shelton Gibson and was WVU’s 3rd leading rusher with 19-carries for 40-yards.
Wendell Smallwood carried the ball 19 times for 147-yards and he only had 3 carries in the 2nd half. Smallwood also had a rushing TD, and a fumble. Meanwhile Rushel Shell III had 19 carries for 48 yards, and he ran the ball in all 4 quarters, and had a fumble.
Not only this, but WVU’s back up QB William Crest not only played QB, but he also played running back and receiver. Crest threw one pass as QB, and another as WR and didn’t connect on either, but he had 3 carries for 15 yards, and had no catches as a receiver. The leading receiver in this game was Shelton Gibson who caught 5 passes for 84-yards, of which one was a 50-yard TD pass.
Holgorsen stated after the Oklahoma game that the passing game had to improve. It isn’t going to improve with Howard as quarterback. Howard cannot throw a deep ball over a receiver’s head and drop it in front of him where the opponent can’t defend it. He has connected only twice in the past 2 games throwing a pass where a receiver could run under it, and both were to Shelton Gibson in the end-zone.
Gibson did have to turn to catch it, for the ball wasn’t out in front of him away from the defender. Crest looked better on the deep pass he threw than Howard did with any pass he threw, other than the TD pass to Gibson.
Unless Holgorsen changes QBs then most likely WVU will go 6 – 6 this season. If Holgorsen keeps Skyler Howard as the starting QB, I cannot imagine WVU beating, TCU, Baylor, Texas, Texas Tech, or Kansas State. Iowa State and Kansas are the only possible wins I see going forward.
A lot of fans were disappointed after the Oklahoma State loss, for they were hoping for a big win that would put WVU back in the Top 25. I doubt if WVU sees the Top 25 the remainder of the season.
Feature photo by Zimbio.com