MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — As the unthinkable unfolded—TCU flinging an uncontested 94-yard tying touchdown in the final 1:44—West Virginia cornerback Icky Banks felt certain he was following instructions.

“I thought it was Cover 2,” he said.

That meant Banks thought he had help over the top from safety Cecil Level. But with 52,000 fans blaring at Mountaineer Field, and with TCU desperately hurrying to line up on second-and-19 from its own 6, what Banks didn’t see or hear was Level relaying a new pre-snap call to the corners: man coverage.

“My safety tried to give me a check, but I didn’t hear it—the crowd was real loud,” Banks recalled Tuesday night, not a moment of hesitation in his memory. (He even recounted the previous play, and how a Josh Francis sack had pinned TCU into a seemingly hopeless second-and-forever.)

So it was that Banks chucked TCU’s Josh Boyce toward the sideline, presumably funneling the receiver into Level’s deep zone. And Level, presuming Banks was sticking with Boyce, split focus between an underneath receiver and the potential scrambling of quarterback Trevone Boykin.

“He was playing one coverage and I was playing another,” Banks said. “We just broke down and gave up a play.”

Perhaps THE play of 2012, at least the one that came to exemplify WVU’s defensive culpability.

As Boykin skirted the pass rush and spotted Boyce completely alone 30 yards downfield, TCU seized its game-saving gift. Boyce outran Level and fellow safety Karl Joseph the final 60 yards to knot the score at 31. End zone to end zone in 16 seconds.

The roar that shrouded the secondary’s pre-snap call swooned to a buzz of disbelief, the busted coverage. TCU subsequently won 39-38 in overtime, with Boyce of all players catching the decisive two-point conversion. Banks, then a sophomore new to the starting lineup, blamed himself for the miscommunication that extended the game.

“You don’t ever want to make a mistake like that again,” he said. “Every time you play, either good or bad, you have to take it as a learning experience.”

With Banks once again starting at cornerback as the Mountaineers prepare to visit TCU this week, he continued to own up to last season’s mistake. The guy doesn’t trade in excuses–he just hopes for a chance to make amends.

But even a year later, the defensive communication bugaboos haven’t been cleaned up. Witness K-State’s Tyler Lockett beating Banks for two touchdown catches last Saturday. On a 35-yard first-quarter bomb, Banks was supposed to have bracketing help from Joseph, but the safety busted a coverage by flying upfield. On a third-quarter 9-yard touchdown, Banks was again expecting inside help from Joseph, who this time was momentarily lured away when linebacker Isaiah Bruce failed to latch on to a running back in the flat.

“We’ve been struggling the last couple weeks, still having some miscommunications,” said Banks, who nonetheless sounded excited about the program’s first excursion to Fort Worth.

“It will be good to get a W back on the team that stole one from us last year.”

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  • Boone Co EER

    Banks is also the reason K-State had the best passing game of there season he has no cover skills

  • don

    Rule number 1; never let a receiver get behind you. Our defensive backs sure are slow learners! The number of 20-30 yard completions against these clowns is unbelievable!

  • D.P.

    As I recall (and I could be wrong) TCU was OUT of timeouts at the time of this play. NO WV defensive player was within 15-20 yards of the receiver!!!

    ANY JUNIOR HIGH COACHING STAFF would have had AT LEAST 4 WV defenders all the way back on the 35-40 yard line to NOT allow a receiver to GET BEHIND THE COVERAGE!!!

    This was the first inclination I had that our coaching staff was INCOMPETENT!!! Although a few coaching changes have been made, my fears were confirmed and continue through present!!!!!

  • don

    I have to agree with the assessment of sims talent (or lack thereof). I haven't seen any of the advertised speed, quickness, or power that he supposedly has. I can't believe he is a first round draft pick. Obviously, the lack of any simblance of an O-line hinders him a lot but if he had the talent he was supposed to have he should still break some runs.

  • Mountaineer fanatic

    Some of you don't care. However, I care a lot. It hurts big time to see the team play so poorly.
    Come on Mountaineers lets play some football.



  • cutty77

    @ FungoJoe,
    Alot of People thought Rich Rod was offensive genius too. That night back in 2007 against Pitt. WVU had the ball on the 20 yard of Pitt. all we needed was a TD to win and go the BCS Bowl game. Rich Rod ran 4 plays,and lost 3 yards. Thats right after 4 plays WVU was 4th and 13.Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

    • tw eagle

      personally , I think a WVU supporter , with access to the players , sold the Mountaineer signals to the Panthers so he could make a killing on bets . . .you can run a large parlay that is almost guaranteed if you can take the 28 1/2 points Pitt was getting and spread those over 3 or 4 other teams . . .RR , realizing he had been sabotaged , walked out on WVU . . .just another of my conspiracy
      theories . . .you got a better theory ?

  • FungoJoe

    WVU has an NFL caliber running back, projected to go in the first 3 rounds, and our offensive genius Holgorsen only gives him the ball 8 times to run. Any offensive game plan should have this guy Sims carrying the ball at least 20 times a game.
    Offensive genius my a**. Holgorsen is a clown.

    • tw eagle

      well , I agree holgerson is a clown . . .but whoever rated sims a top nfl prospect either has 0% reliability in assessing talent or a big bank account for endorsing second rate "nags". . .
      I recall this story from last season and the blame was dropped on Level . . .it must have been the walk-ons fault . . .

  • Kory

    I don't think he learned much from last year seeing how got burned multiple times against K-State last week.

  • MountainMover

    If you're still blowing coverages a year later maybe you just suck.

  • cutty77

    Give the kid credit for saying what he said. That play and game changed WVU season. But a month or so after that i watched a NFL DB with The Bronco's make the same play and cost the Bronco's a trip the Super Bowl. At least Banks stood up for himself. Remember its just a Game when its all said and done.

  • don

    Banks also gave up the winning touchdown against ok last year. Div ll talent trying to play big 12 ball! In way over our heads, but hey, the money is great so just get used to being adoor mat.

    • Big Larry


      That's correct...who cares about winning football game any more?

      All that matters is that WVU is now making 30 million a year...

      All that matters is that WVU is now making 30 million a year...

      All that matters is that WVU is now making 30 million a year...

      Did I mention yet that WVU is now making 30 million a year...?

      • Chuck

        So what you are saying is it would be more fun to beat up on Houston Ucf Marshall and playing in a crap conference with no shot ever at a nc. Than playing in a power 5 conference playing the big boys. Really???

    • JimJim

      Yep, we're in it for the money now. Go Lucky, this is what you wanted.

  • Indian Boy

    WVU football is experiencing the perfect storm of incompetence. A football team can have weak players and survive with good coaching. Or they can have weak coaching that can be compensated for by great talent on the field. But when you have a lack of talent on the field and a group of coaches that are still learning their craft, nothing good will happen. If the fan base can tolerate a couple more years of this, WVU might be back in the game...but then again, I am not sure if this staff will ever be competent.

  • fuz

    we all need to be on same page. it is coaching.make less changes in calls.

  • Moon

    Note that we rushed 4 on the play. 2nd and 19 and we had just sacked them....and we give up on what works by trying to cover instead of pressuring. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. These kinds of errors happen all the time to every team. What is more problematic for us, is our refusal to embrace a 'get after you' attacking defense that puts guys in man to man and rushes 6 more often than 4. Until we do that, we will allow guys to sit back, or in this case dance around, and find the open guy. If we had rushed 6 on that play...he would not have uncovered the coverage mistake. Same ole story.

  • Allan

    It's coaching folks, it's coaching.