After watching the WVU play Virginia Tech, I decided it would be best to sleep on what took place in order take my emotions out of the article.
The biggest WVU negative in this game was the WVU defense’s inability to stop VT QB Josh Jackson from running the ball. Jackson would fake a hand-off, and wait for WVU’s defense to commit to stopping the back he faked the hand-off to, and then he’d run the ball. On Jackson’s first TD, it was WVU Dravon Askew-Henry who fell for the fake.
With all the hype about WVU QB Will Grier, I felt Grier was believing his own press, for he looked terrible in the 1st quarter. Grier’s interception seemed to wake him up, and he looked much better after that. It was evident he and the receivers need more work getting their timing down, but in the 2nd half WVU fans saw a much improved deep ball passing game.
Grier finished the evening completing 58% of his passes, with Josh Jackson completing 56% of his.
The other things that I saw that hurt WVU was a dismal kicking game. WVU’s Mike Molina struggled with distance on his punts the entire game while kicker Evan Staley couldn’t seem to put a kick-off into the end-zone. Molina repeatedly limped off the field yet was never replaced.
We heard all year about WVU working to improve the return game. For the most part we did see WVU punt and kick returners not having defenders right in their face as they caught the ball, but WVU only had -3 punt return yards for the game and 0 kick-off return yards. VT had 93 kick-off return yards and VT had 5 punt return yards. Thus, pretty much keeping WVU backed up deep in their end of the field. At least two fair catches were very returnable.
WVU’s poor field position due to lack of special team play hurt their chances of winning. The biggest improvement WVU needs to make over the next few weeks to stay competitive going into Big 12 play is the effectiveness of special teams.
It was evident that WVU has receivers who can catch the ball even when covered, but Grier was guilty of throwing into double and triple coverage while a different receiver was open. Lack of speed by the receivers is not an issue. Ka’Raun White dropped a pass in the end zone and another one on the VT 11 yd line. This was certainly a winnable game.
Photo by Gridironnow.com