MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The phrase “we didn’t finish” could become the epitaph for this season’s West Virginia defense.
Second-half head-scratchers have become the norm, and there was ample scratching to be done after a 47-40 overtime loss to Texas.
“I don’t even know how to explain it,” defensive coordinator Keith Patterson said.
So resilient throughout the game’s first 35 minutes, West Virginia held Texas to two field goals (and minus-5 yards) on drives that started at the WVU 7. But that resilience eventually disappeared—along with assignment discipline and confidence—as Texas transformed the game into a shootout.
On their first 12 possessions Saturday, the Longhorns netted 16 points and 142 yards. On their final six drives? 31 points and 297 yards.
Coincidentally, Texas started rolling after its leading rusher Johnathan Gray departed for the locker room with a leg injury. That became Case McCoy’s cue to wing it, and offensive coordinator Major Applewhite obliged by letting the senior attempt a career-high 49 passes, resulting three touchdowns and 283 yards.
After starting 1-of-11 on third-down conversions, Texas converted seven straight (all via McCoy’s passing) and nine of its last 12.
“At some point in the second half, you have to make plays,” Patterson said. “We’ve got people in position to make plays and for whatever reason we don’t.”
Patterson sounded more exasperated than usual—the fallout from watching a rerun of his unit losing its backbone late, just as it did against Texas Tech and Kansas State.
“I don’t know how to fix it really,” he said.
Amid a fourth-quarter offensive flurry that saw four lead changes in five minutes, WVU’s Darwin Cook baited McCoy into a midfield interception the safety returned into Texas territory.
The turnover, however, was nullified by a defensive holding call on nickel back K.J. Dillon—not unlike the flag on TCU’s Jason Verrett last week that saved Clint Trickett from a pick-six.
“I tried to get inside and he beat me inside,” Dillon said. “Unnecessary hold—I should have trusted I had inside help. I basically stole one from Darwin.”