WVU’s Defense A No Show Against Oklahoma

Will Grier on sideline. Thanks 247Sports

This was the 2nd straight year WVU was no match for Oklahoma. In 2016, WVU lost to Oklahoma 28 –  56, and this year the score wasn’t much different for WVU lost 31 – 59. In both games the Sooners scored quickly on almost on every drive.

WVU came into this year’s game with a new offensive scheme. They went with the ‘Wildcat’, putting RB Kennedy McCoy at QB and back-up QB Chris Chugunov at WR. No, McCoy never threw the ball to Chugs, but he did run the ball, and ran it well. While Oklahoma was rapidly putting up points, WVU was buring the clock with long drives they could score on.

This schema took QB Chris Chugunov out the game plan, and from where I sit it showed a lack of confidence in his Chugs ability to get the job done. Chugs completed 10 of 20 passes. Three of his passes should have been touchdown, but the receivers came down with their feet out of bounds. On a short ball to Ka’Raun White, who tried to lateral to Gary Jennings, the ball was fumbled and the Sooners took over near mid-field.

Anyone who has ever played football or watched a football game knows that the timing between QB and receiver is very different between practice and during a game. Chugs did connect on a long pass to Marcus Simms. For the most part Chugs was trying to get the ball to a WVU receiver who was either in single or double coverage. Yes, Chugs appeared to under throw Gary Jennings, but from where I sat this looked like a comeback route that Jennings didn’t comeback on. Chugs also had a couple of deep balls he well over-threw. The sideline pass he missed on may have been intentional, for a completion on this one could have costed WVU yards and the receiver would have taken a big hit, for the Sooners were bearing down on the intended receiver.

According to Ka’Raun White, earlier in the week, Chugs passes are a little harder to catch for his passes are coming at the receiver faster and with more zip than Will Grier’s.

If Grier can’t play in the bowl game, or hurts his hand in the bowl game, then the loss to Oklahoma didn’t help Chugs or the receivers prepare for the game. WVU ran just over 70 plays against Oklahoma with only 20 being pass plays. The issue with this, other than it didn’t work is two-fold. It burned the clock and took the ball out of Chugs hands. WVU may as well have played Will Grier. Chugs is an accurate passer, and in the past 2 weeks he has connected on 2 passes throwing across his body and down field and he completed both to Marcus Simms.

If Chugs doesn’t get the game experience then how is he and the receivers going to connect. This game should have been in preparation for the bowl game. This would have been the perfect game for Chugs and the receivers to work on timing, and for the receivers to get used to catching Chugs faster zipper passes. The benefit to this would have shown up in the bowl game.

Taking the ball out of Chugs hands not only hurt WVU against Oklahoma, but most like will be a decision they regret in the upcoming bowl game. WVU’s defense could not slow Oklahoma’s offense. WVU was in a situation where they needed to match the points the Sooners were putting up. The run game worked the clock, but not the scoreboard.

Will Grier has missed passes this season, and has completed less than 50% of his passes in at least one game, and has thrown his share or interceptions. Chugs in a game and a half hasn’t thrown any interceptions. In recent games the receivers have gotten in the habit of dropping passes, even from Will Grier. So lets don’t blame Chugs.

Yes, the “Wildcat” worked to a degree, but WVU couldn’t score with it. By removing the passing game from the game plan made WVU one dimensional. I wonder if the coaches did this because of all the passes the receivers have dropped the past several games, or a lack of confidence in Chugs or both?

In recent weeks Coach Carrier has criticized his receives for dropping passes. We started to see this in the Texas Tech game, and we have seen it in every game since. Last week David Sills dropped a short pass from Chugs that should have been a 1st down.

If I had been Holgorsen this past Saturday, I’d changed game plans and had Chugs passing in the 2nd half. One reason I would have done this is Oklahoma’s defensive backs have struggled all season. Yet, WVU never really challenged the weakest part of Oklahoma’s defense. WVU went with a running game that Oklahoma is better at defending, but wait a minute, didn’t we see this same game plan fail last season in Morgantown. It was snowing in Morgantown, Justin Crawford put up big yards running the ball, but WVU couldn’t score and WVU’s passing game was non-existent. The same offensive and defensive schemes from last season didn’t work then and failed again this season.

Kinda makes you wonder if the WVU coaches really wanted to win this season. While Holgorsen wasn’t upset about the loss, Tony Gibson was very upset with himself.

Personally with pins in Will Grier’s hand, I just don’t see him playing in the bowl game. The hand may heal by then, but he’ll need rehab to get the strength back. Now, WVU has a back-up QB the receivers aren’t used to catching passes from in a game whose passes are faster with more zip. I see more of the “Wildcat” coming and another embarassing bowl loss.

Chugs has too much talent, and not giving this young man an opportunity to show case it was wrong. And what about the WVU receivers? How does not have the opportunity to catch Chugs passes affect them at the next level? I remember Miami Dolphin receivers talking about how hard it was to catch Dan Marino’s passes, for how hard and fast his passes came at them. Having to catch Chugs passes in a game could only benefit them going forward.

Why is it WVU can’t come up with a game plan to beat Oklahoma or even compete against Oklahoma?

Is it that the coaches really don’t want to beat Oklahoma? If we see another game plan next season like we have seen the past two seasons, then perhaps it is time we find a head coach who really wants to beat Oklahoma. One thing I don’t understand, is why not have a game plan that exploits Oklahima’s weakness on defense, rather than a game plan that plays into Oklahoma’s strength on defense, for this is what WVU has done the past two seasons.





3 thoughts on “WVU’s Defense A No Show Against Oklahoma

  1. I just read where Coach Spavital said they came up with the best game plan they could to help Chugs. “What”?

    Chugs needed to throw passes to get him and the receivers into a rythm.

    We have seen Grier missing passing in the 1st half, and in the 2nd half his efficiency improved. Grier also locks onto receivers at times.

    I would have much rather seen Chugs do his thing, than to see the mess we saw Saturday.

    One think is for sure whatever Spav’s game plan was it didn’t work.

    Also, you can teach a QB not to stare down a receiver – it’s called practice.


  2. Mr O’Bryan, I enjoy reading your column and agree with the vast majority of your opinions. I do, however, find it curious that you use the word for as a conjunction. There is nothing wrong with that, but I see it so seldom, it just stands out to me.
    I’m sorry for the criticism and hope I am not out of bounds for bringing it up.
    Keep up the great columns as I am a great fan of them.

    • Thanks Terry!

      I often read what what I thought I wrote.

      I went back and made the correction, and a few others my wife and I found.

      Anytime you see something needing corrected let me know.

      Thank you for your imput.

      I need more readers like you to help me make it a better site.

      GO EERs!!!


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