It was a tough loss in Landover for the Mountaineers. Including myself, a lot of Mountaineer fans expected to win this game and they almost pulled it off.
The offense started of slow but when they got going, they looked unstoppable. Quarterback Will Grier had to shake the rust off, after not playing for almost 2 years in a live game, but he would find his groove.
About mid way through the second quarter, Will would start to feel comfortable within the offense. He was picking apart Bud Foster’s secondary, with all the time he had in the pocket, seemingly putting the ball wherever he wanted it. Will Grier would finish the game with 371 yards, 3 touchdowns on 31-53 passing.
The defense played tough most of the game, but it was the blown coverages and some poor tackling on a few of the defensive series that gave the Hokies most of their points and overshadowed any solid performance that was played on the field.
The offensive of play calling under Jake Spavital was a little questionable at times. Starting with only giving Justin Crawford the ball 13 times and would rush for 106 yards. That’s an average of 8.2 yards per carry. It was not as a well balanced attack as the 2016 season. The Mountaineers would pass 54 times while running the ball only 35 times.
It wasn’t a matter of them not moving the ball, either running it or throwing it through the air, they moved the ball down the field. The Mountaineers would rack up a total of 592 yards of total offense.
I can only pick two plays that I would question on why West Virginia just didn’t hand it off to Justin Crawford;
- On 4th and 2, Will Grier rolls out to his left and tries to make a throw across his body which results in an interception to start the 2nd quarter.
- With 12 minutes remaining in the 3rd quarter, Spavital calls a screen pass behind the line of scrimmage for freshman Tevin Bush, when it was 2nd and 5 from the Hokie 6 yard line.
There’s a few other plays I would like to point out and it’s the penalties. West Virginia was called for a hold a few times but there was two that were total drive killers.
The first hold came early in the 2nd quarter on the third play of the drive. On a first down play, a quick slant to David Sills for 11 yards and a first down was called back on a hold, it was the timing of the flag that is concerning. The flag was late and it clearly didn’t affect the outcome of the play on a quick slant. They would stop the drive West Virginia had to face a 1st and 20 and could only get 17 of the yards.
The second hold came at the Virginia Tech 23 yard line with a minute left in the 3rd quarter. This time after a 2 yard run on 3rd and 1. The play happened so fast there just wasn’t enough time for a hold and then replay clearly showed there was no hold. That moved the Mountaineers to 3rd and 11 and out of field goal range. When Dana complained, he was definitely out there stating his case, the ref flagged him for an unsportsmanlike conduct, that pushed West Virginia to midfield and facing a 3rd and 26.
Its easy to say Dana should of kept his composure, but he just dealt with a late hit penalty along the sideline on a kickoff that was very questionable to say the least.
The last penalty I want to bring up his Virginia Techs last drive of the game. It was 3rd and 9 at midfield for the Hokies and Josh Jackson threw a ball into the bench. The ball was not even close to being catchable, but the officials called a pass interference anyway. There was 4:01 left on the clock when that happened. That would have been plenty of time for the Mountaineers to drive the length of the field.
I bring those three penalties up because, two of them were drive killers for the Mountaineers and one penalty kept the drive alive for the Hokies. Another reason is, was there any questionable penalties for the Hokies? You could bring up the 15 yard unsportsmanlike conduct on Justin Fuente, but that was nullified by the pass interference call.
The penalties isn’t the reason the Mountaineers lost the game and I’m not trying to blame the officials but they didn’t do any favors for West Virginia.
The loss came down to some poor special teams play, some bad offensive execution and a defense that looked non existent at times.