Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

West Virginia offensive linesman Quinton Spain is cleared to play this week after suffering a concussion against Baylor.

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Amid the figurative blur of West Virginia’s 73-42 loss at Baylor sprang some actual fogginess in the head of Quinton Spain, the offensive lineman seated in a lonely colossal clump on the bench, felled by his first concussion.

“I was playing through it, but then I just got dizzy and felt like I need to sit out,” he said. “They wouldn’t let me go back in.”

Head trauma being at the frontier of caution, Spain sat out the final quarter of that game, along with three subsequent bye-week practices. He wasn’t cleared to return until last Monday. Even after reviewing game film, the 6-foot-5, 335-pound junior wasn’t certain precisely when he became concussed.

“On a screen, when I tried to turn around, I hit my head,” he said. “And then on another (play) when I pulled, I went head-to-head with a guy. I don’t know the rest—I just know I got hit plenty of times.”

Such was the punch-drunk sensation of every Mountaineer after the blistering at Baylor, a game that looms as the least competitive of the Dana Holgorsen era. Some final margins may have been worse, but no loss was decided sooner.

A fortnight later comes the opportunity to face another high-riding, ranked team. Texas Tech becomes the fifth unbeaten opponent in West Virginia’s first seven games (a stat that excludes opening-day foe William & Mary). USA Today stat-cruncher Jeff Sagarin calls WVU’s schedule the 11th-toughest in the FBS so far. Conversely, Sagarin ranks Texas Tech’s strength-of-schedule at No. 94.

That lack of competition lends some context to Texas Tech’s impressive statistical avalanche: Sixth nationally in total offense (544 yards), third in passing (408 yards), 13th in scoring (41. 8 points), 11th in third-down defense (28.2 percent), 11th fewest TD passes allowed (five) and 21st in total defense (344 yards).

Another striking number: The Red Raiders rank third nationally in forced three-and-outs per game (7.33). If they force that many Saturday, Dana Holgorsen might spontaneously combust.

His patience has been tested with a sluggish offense, even though the staff sensed that chemistry and execution would suffer as new personnel was initiated. Through six games, WVU’s offense has produced only two adequate performances—wins over Georgia State and Oklahoma State—and entering Game 7 it’s time to expect more consistency.

To that end, the sideline signals have been modified (simplified?) to expedite Clint Trickett’s communication to the line. (Yes, Paul Millard remains an option at quarterback, but if he was going to start, why change up the signals at all?) The offensive line rotation has been pared down from eight guys to six (and actually it’s down to five for Saturday’s first half, as backup tackle Adam Pankey serves out a targeting ejection.) And Mario Alford has moved from slot receiver to the outside where his downfield speed can be better utilized.

On the defensive side, the return of inside linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski could provide a monumental boost to stopping Texas Tech’s run game. WVU’s cornerbacks also need to shake off their putrid performance against Baylor, whereby position coach Brian Mitchell was flabbergasted by the sudden dearth of discipline.

This week has a bounce-back feel similar to the Oklahoma State game, and we recall what kind of surprise WVU delivered in that one.

Pick: West Virginia 30-27

Ranking the weekend’s other Big 12 games:

1. No. 21 Oklahoma State 27, TCU 20: (Cowboys -7.5) The Horned Frogs offense has scored 37 points in the first half all season, which is 19 fewer than Baylor rang up against WVU alone, but I digress … Five weeks after breaking his non-throwing arm, Casey Pachall could return at quarterback, which would be an improvement over slumping sophomore Trevone Boykin.
2. No. 12 Baylor 50, Iowa State 21: (Bears -33) Baylor has never been the highest-ranked team in the Big 12, until this week. Can Bryce Petty and Lache Seastrunk just agree ahead of time to split the Heisman?
3. No. 18 Oklahoma 37, Kansas 10: (Sooners -22) After last week’s Red River Repulsion, defensive coordinator Mike Stoops admitted his game plan for Texas “wasn’t great.” Lucky for the Stoops Brothers, greatness is no prerequisite against KU.
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  • tw eagle

    Will the lone ranger be riding his own horse , or will he be renting a local one ?
    after the Mountaineers "clean" the stadium
    with the red raiders , I suggest the lone ranger
    be "invited" to sing along with Mountaineer Nation . . . Mountaineer Nation will be introducing the four Lady Mountaineer soccer
    players who have just finished their home
    careers at WVU . . . ? ? ?

  • wvajoker

    Just one of the Four Jackasses braying because he doesn't have anything worthwhile to accomplish.

  • Mitch

    @ D.P.,
    It's actually hilarious to watch a Moo Yoo fan thump his chest when their schedule would have to improve a few notches to qualify as merely pathetic. It's pure comedy gold! You can't make this stuff up.
    Only M.U. and UL fans are this ignorant and clueless. They have no idea how hard the rest of the country laughs at them....well, at UL. The rest of the country doesn't even know Moo Yoo even exists.

  • JimJim

    Relax fellows, If WVU would beat them, what would that say for the ranking system. Maybe Shutdown Shelly knows.

  • gouk

    d.p. - you are my man...........I wish I could meet these two idiots on behalf of true mountaineer alumni......satisfaction !

  • Alex

    The question is will Texas Tech go guns up or facedown..I have a gut filling WVU will put T T face down ...Two weeks off .... Time to look at and study film... Get some players back that has been off ...get all the bangs and bruises taken care of ....we will be ready

  • Frank

    How can any quarterback get psyched up for any game if they do not know until gameday if they are playing or not?

  • Bill

    Facing this type of challenging schedule will pay dividends. WVU 28 TTU 21 Musket blazing!

  • D.P.

    William, you FRIGGING JERK! I promised myself a few weeks ago to refrain from replying to your or Big Larry's NEGATIVE POSTS! However, I can't let this one go.

    You are implying that Alan believes WV has the 11th toughest schedule in the country. Closely read his article you IDIOT! Alan's QUOTING Jeff Sagarin (who utilizes a very complimated computer model) in determing WV's (and all the other FBS colleges) strength of schedule. The 11th toughest schedule applies to WV's schedule SO FAR you WACKJOB!

    I (and 99% of the other readers of Metro News) would ABSOLUTELY LOVE to see you and your Boyfriend Big Larry PERMANENTLY BARRED from this site. Sadly, this won't happen, and I can only hope you TWO FREAKS would start (ASAP)playing on the railroad tracks DAILY!!!!!

    • Steve

      DP stop wasting your time on the little love brothers William and big Larry...they are Marshall fans who are extremely jealous of WVU. They are nothing but trolls--the lowest form of life.

  • William

    If WVU has the 11th-toughest schedule, then College football is in very sad. Play cupcake non-conf. games so you can get to 6 wins then call yourself a great team and go to a bowl. FACT -WVU plays 6 weak teams on the schedule this year and you say they have the 11th toughest schedule - WHAT A JOKE THAT IS - Stop drinking the KOOL-AID!

    • Harpers Ferry

      I rarely find myself doing this, but I actually agree with William on one point, how does WVU have the 11th hardest schedule? Ga. State and William & Mary? Maryland showed how far they are from the top when they got rocked by FSU and barely beat UVA at home. Add all that to the fact that the Big 12 might be the worst of the Big 6 Conferences this year and I don't see how WVU's SoS can be that high.