While sleep walking through a very unimpressive first half, WVU topped off a lackadaisical performance with a missed 30 yd field goal leaving them tied with Youngstown State at 14.
Despite a poor first half performance by offensive line, Howard avoided being sacked with a couple of successful scrambles. The alarm clock apparently went off in the locker room at halftime and lit a fire under the Mountaineers.
The Mountaineers came out and asserted themselves in the second half, especially the offensive line. Youngstown State had their safeties playing run/pass and the WVU offense drew them in with several runs on first down by Rushel Shell and Justin Crawford.
By mixing in a few play action passes, Skyler Howard forced the Penguin safeties to run forward just enough to allow the WVU outside receivers to streak by them.
The YSU cornerbacks had little chance to defend against Howard’s very accurate deep throws and the speed of the WVU outside receivers. Howard and the ‘jets’ hooked up for several long completions with 5 touchdowns as a result leading to a 38 – 21 victory.
Shell had another strong day, gaining 84 yds on carries plus a 21 yd TD run that was called back for an unneeded penalty
Judging from the interviews, especially with Coach Gibson, not much changed defensively from the first game to the second. The defensive backs were still struggling, tackling was again sloppy, and the defense struggled getting take always. According to at least one defensive player, communications on the field was still an issues, causing players to be out of position.
Howard again completed 65% of his passes, going 20 of 33 for 389 yds. He also added 50 yds on eight carries including the two scrambles. Shelton Gibson had a career day catching six passes for 171 yds and two scores. Daikiel Shorts also had six catches over the middle for 93 yds. and his first TD.
Jovon Durante was shut out as an inside receiver, tipping a slightly high pass into the waiting hands of a YSU defender.
It does appear Coach Gibson and his staff needs to improve communications on the field, but improved blocking allowed Gary Jennings to return a punt for 16 yds. Tackling remains to be worked on. WVU defenders had several misses in the open field.
Offensively, the o-line needs a fire lit under them, for they need to play four-quarters, not just two.
We will all see if improvements are made in two weeks as BYU makes what is effectively a tryout for the Big 12 at Landover Field in Maryland.
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