Ben Queen/MetroNews photo

Texas coach Mack Brown sought out Paul Millard after Texas beat WVU 47-40 in overtime.

 

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Charting the dividends and write-offs from West Virginia’s 47-40 overtime loss to Texas, a 4-hour, 7-minute study in concussed QBs, torn Achilles and wild momentum swings:

QUARTERBACKS
Clint Trickett’s night lasted 13 plays, during which time he suffered four sacks, two fumbles and apparently one concussion. Yet somehow, through that flurry of mishaps, West Virginia led 9-0.
Enter Paul Millard, who led the offense to 31 points in three-plus quarters but fumbled four times (losing two) and tossed two interceptions—one on the game’s final play. His lack of ball security in the pocket was especially curious, considering he’s the smoothest operator of WVU’s quarterbacks. On one strip, he held the ball for more than five seconds.
“The fumbles, those turnovers are not good,” Millard said. “Mistakes of not taking care of the ball, they hurt. You can’t do that.”
His 16-of-32 passing night accounted for 259 yards and one touchdown, though he continues to throw the occasional skip-pass to open receivers. Ironically, it was an overthrow that represented his most notable misfire—after Charles Sims slipped out of the backfield uncovered against an eight-man Texas blitz. No stretch to imagine that play going for 75 yards if completed in rhythm.

Ben Queen/MetroNews photo

Charles Sims ran for three touchdowns and 93 yards on 24 carries against Texas.
RUNNING BACKS
After running for 154 yards against TCU (statistically the best run defense in the Big 12), Sims had the same 24 carries for only 93 yards against Texas (the third-worst run defense in the league). Still, the guy never disappoints and churns his feet for every available yard. He displayed power on touchdown runs from the 1, 3 and the 6, and showed burst on a 33-yard run that sparked WVU’s 91-yard drive in the third quarter.
As usual, Sims was a factor in the passing game (five catches for 42 yards), and could have had a 75-yarder on the pass Millard overthrew.
Wendell Smallwood (four carries for 18 yards, two catches for 37 yards) could be next year’s Sims. He slipped several tacklers while taking a screen pass 29 yards.
Among his seven carries for 24 yards, Dreamius Smith bounced outside for an 8-yard touchdown run when he had an open inside lane. He might take some ribbing in the film room on that one.
Fullback Cody Clay, a folk hero even before catching his first career touchdown last week, was used primarily in max-protect schemes against the overwhelming Texas pass rush. On the final two plays of overtime, however, his goal-line curl route brought linebacker Steve Edmund into position to break up slant passes intended for wide receivers. Offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson said Clay should have pivoted those routes toward the flat in order to pull the underneath coverage outside.
Fullback Garrett Hope, inserted in a twin tight end set on third-and-1 late in regulation, missed his block on Carrington Byndom allowing the UT cornerback to trip up Smith for a loss.

Joe Sadlek/All-Pro Photography

West Virginia’s Kevin White makes a 31-yard catch against Texas—one of his five catches Saturday night.
RECEIVERS
With WVU’s passers rarely afforded time to make throws downfield, the quick game became a necessity. Against an eight-man blitz in the fourth quarter, Mario Alford caught an inside slant in front of cornerback Duke Thomas and raced 72 yards for his first career touchdown. Alford made four catches against UT and now has 158 receiving yards the past two weeks after having 93 in the season’s first eight games.
Alford, who showed stark improvement in his blocking, ran 20 yards with an end around in OT, setting up WVU’s futile last series.
The big-bodied Kevin White caught a 31-yarder over Byndom but twice failed to pull in contested deep sideline throws. He finished with five catches for 89 yards on nine targets.
Devonte Mathis made a 19-yard grab, his first since Week 4 against Georgia State, but Daikiel Shorts—the team’s reception leader coming in—was held without a catch on three targets.
OFFENSIVE LINE
From the first snap, when Jackson Jeffcoat pushed past right tackle Curtis Feigt to drop Sims on a stretch play, it was apparent Texas was loading up to stop the run. Using seven- and eight-man fronts, Longhorns defensive coordinator Greg Robinson was intent on outmanning WVU’s run game and gambling that his pass rushers could bring pressure quickly enough to minimize the back-end risks.
Jeffcoat was in the backfield frequently, though his lone sack came against left tackle Adam Pankey and resulted in a Millard fumble. Texas wound up with six sacks, getting pressure inside from opposite end Cedric Reed and backup tackle Desmond Jackson, the latter subbing for Chris Whaley who left with a season-ending knee injury in the first quarter.
West Virginia’s line couldn’t like the sack-diminished 2.3-yards per carry, particularly against a UT defense that came in allowing more than 4.6 per rush. But again, there were many occasions when the defense was plus-one or plus-two in the box, making it tough to create holes. That was the case on the back-to-back short-yardage stops that gave Texas the ball back inside the final three minutes with a chance to rally.
“It’s tough to take,” said Dana Holgorsen. “We called two consecutive run plays and we didn’t get a yard. It’s tough to take. I didn’t know what else to call.”
There was a developing second-half story involving center Pat Eger, whose two off-target snaps got Holgorsen hot. In the third quarter, Eger also allowed nose tackle Malcom Brown to come unblocked on what became a tipped interception, and the senior was gone on the next series, replaced by Tyler Orlosky who promptly delivered a block that sprang Sims on a 33-yard run.
“Snaps were awful,” Holgorsen said. “He’s a team captain and it means more to him than probably anybody on the team. That being said, if the snaps are bad and he’s not doing what we need him to do, then we’re going to put somebody else in there.”
DEFENSIVE LINE
The arrow would be pointing up if the stock grade was based solely on UT’s first 12 possessions, but we’ve heard it’s a 60-minute game and WVU’s second-half woes resurfaced. Yes, the Mountaineers held the vaunted Texas running game to 3.7 yards per carry, but that average climbed to 5.4 after intermission. And Texas got rolling even after top tailback Johnathan Gray left with a season-ending Achilles injury.
Will Clarke (five tackles) made West Virginia’s lone sack, a disappointment considering all the blitzes Keith Patterson dialed up. Nose tackle Shaq Rowell was in on seven stops as UT ran it 41 times, and Kyle Rose made three stops and recovered a fumble.
WVU didn’t get much out of Dontrill Hyman, back after missing two games, or Noble Nwachukwu, the redshirt freshman who enjoyed a breakthrough game at TCU.

Ben Queen/MetroNews photo

West Virginia linebacker Jared Barber made 14 tackles against Texas before suffering a right knee injury in overtime.
LINEBACKERS
Jared Barber made a game-high 14 stops and is tied with safety Darwin Cook for the overall team lead at 71. But either Barber or Cook busted an assignment by not following fullback Alex De La Torre into the flat on UT’s decisive touchdown in overtime. It was a bunched-up, third-and-goal play from the 2 and obviously WVU was hyped to clog the running lanes. Hey, that’s why they call it play-action.
Worse for Barber, his right knee gave way on a cut block by the running back, and the junior had to be helped from the field.
Buck linebacker Brandon Golson had only one stop and one hurry, not nearly the impact needed with Case McCoy dropping back 50 times.
Isaiah Bruce was back in the starting lineup at Spur—with Patterson opening in the 3-4—and made six stops and had one TFL. Late in regulation, when WVU went to a six-DB, two-linebacker look, Bruce was manning the middle and got caught in traffic on Malcolm Brown’s 27-yard run to the 11.
For the second straight week, Nick Kwiatkoski caught a tipped interception. He also made nine stops.
SECONDARY
Pregame storylines don’t necessarily hold true to form, and such was the case Saturday. West Virginia feared the Texas running game, but it was McCoy who put the game on his shoulders.
He completed 27-of-49 passes for 283 yards and threw for a career-high three touchdowns, zipping passes a step ahead of the blitzes. That was the deal on a fourth-and-7 connection to Jaxon Shipley as UT drove to force overtime (with an assist to Travis Bell’s soft coverage).
McCoy’s lone interception hit a receiver between the numbers only to be dislodged by K.J. Dillon into the hands of Kwiatkoski.
About Dillon: He made three stops, including a TFL, and was featured numerous times as an edge blitzer. The sophomore broke up two passes, including a potential touchdown throw to Shipley. On one play in which Shipley got the better of him, Dillon grabbed on and was flagged for holding—a flag that erased a Cook interception.
Cook made six tops and 1.5 TFLs but was late covering Marcus Johnson on a 14-yard third-down catch that led to Texas’ OT touchdown.
Daryl Worley, considered WVU’s best cover corner as a true freshman, had a pass breakup and a few other solid moments in coverage but was beaten badly on a 49-yard score by Mike Davis.
The coverage struggles of heavy-hitting safety Karl Joseph (six tackles) have been noted, but he made McCoy drop in a perfect pass on Shipley’s first touchdown catch of the season.

Evan Habeeb/USA TODAY Sports

West Virginia’s Jewone Snow blocks a Texas punt leading to a first-quarter safety.
SPECIAL TEAMS
Several WVU highlights with no egregious breakdowns. On UT’s opening series, Jewone Snow split twin protectors and blocked a punt for a safety, and Alford enjoyed kick returns of 32 and 43 yards.
The specialists were solid: Josh Lambert ran his string of made field goals to 10 with a 30-yarder, and Nick O’Tool averaged 46.7 yards on seven punts. However, O’Tool’s final effort was a subpar 30-yard chunk that allowed UT to begin its game-tying drive at its 36.
COACHING
Despite a fast start and a roaring near-capacity crowd, another winnable game escaped West Virginia, which dropped to 3-5 at home in Big 12 games. In four of those losses, WVU held second-half leads.
Whether you attribute those late-game fades to depth issues or a defeatist mindset, it’s ultimately up to Holgorsen’s staff to find a remedy. Remember, Texas was crushed at BYU and divinely blessed to win at Iowa State—this is hardly one of Mack Brown’s best teams. But it was gutsy enough to keep its poise and confidence even when trailing by double-digits at Mountaineer Field.
Some may criticize WVU’s play-calling for ending the game with three straight incompletions from the 4, and not giving Sims a chance at the equalizer. But the second-down play actually was a run call that Millard correctly checked into a pass—a throw foiled by the QB’s inability to throw around a blitzing corner. The final two throws were good looks foiled by WVU’s own execution failures.
Blame execution failures on what you will.
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Comments

  • William101

    A lot of comments to this article. One thing it shows is that everyone who reads these articles watches WVU football. Most care, but even the detractors watch.

    I think we are getting better. I think Ford returns next year and will win the QB job. Think about it, if he wanted to transfer, where could he go where he would have a better shot at winning the QB job? Also, we'll be playing Texas and Texas Tech two more times on the road during his career, and TCU one more time, which gives his family a chance to see him perform in Texas.

    I thought our defense played well enough to win, and our offense was very close. We need improvement in our OL, something I hope to see in Crook's' second year year, and I expect the QB play to be better next year. I expect Crest to r/s; Childress to win the job, and Trickett & Millard to be available for backup. The latter two QBs will benefit from their experience this year.

    I think Allan Taylor, in general, does a good job covering WVU sports. I don't believe he is a WVU fan, and at times, his evaluations are more negative than mine, but it's his job to call things as he sees them.

    I choose to come back and read the articles. I do appreciate the free coverage too on this website too. The Dominion Post has been a pay only service forever, and I am mindful that wvmetronews is solely ad supported.

    There is always good readership interest generated from the WVU articles as well as many of the news articles.

  • Big brother to Larry

    People it's hard to work without any depth ....WVU is only 2 deep in some positions now and one quarterback.... There is the big problem lately game. The guys are all tired out.... And when some body gets hurt sometimes they don't have enough to cover it.... I know it seems hard to see all of that but most of these ( want a beessssss ) armchair coaches just want to fire the coach.... Got news for you it's not going to happen.... Sorry little brother..... And your cousins...

  • pghmountaineer

    Cutty, You're right on.

  • Old Man

    The team is improving, the coaching is good, losing sucks.

  • cutty77

    This is what happens when you have NO QB PLAY,PERIOD. This is The Worst set of QB's WVU has ever had in my lifetime of watching WVU Football. I love Dana,and what he is doing,but This NO QB DEAL IS ALL ON HIM,AND NOBODY ELSE.

  • Mister Man

    There are some positives WVU fans can draw from the season, so far. We have an upset. And, we are not Marshall or Marshall fans.

  • Keith J

    I think WV will grow with our competition in the Big 12. I'm hopeful of being regularly in the top fifity percent in conference. We will probably still be a rebuild rather than a reload program due to various demographics. But in those years when we reach 10 and 2 or better we won't have to hear that it is because we're in a weak, non-deserving conference. I hope when we succeed that we are still at the top academically. BTW, congrats to WV's Women's soccer team, B12 champs. We belong in B12.

    • Rick S.

      I echo your congratulations to the women's soccer team for winning the Big 12 championship. Those seasons in the Big East (which was a far superior women's soccer conference than the Big 12) prepared the program well.

      It is unfortunate things have not gone as well for the men's soccer team. For those of you who do not follow soccer, the Big 12 for some reason does not sponsor men's soccer, so the WVU men's soccer team is playing in the MAC (yes, the same MAC as Bowling Green and Western Michigan).

  • pghmountaineer

    I think what some of you folks are missing here is that we are not improving. Look at the stats and the record. And, check the class recruiting rank on Scout.com, the real barometer for rankings. We are ranked 48th.
    For those of who think Rich Rod is so terible, his class is ranked 10th. That would be encouraging if we were there. Also, check out some of the schools ahead of us. They aren't national power houses.
    No help on the way, and on top of that we don't have a quarterback for the next couple of years.
    Apparently this so called "system" we run must take an Ivy League grad to run because our guys sure can't figure it out.

  • MM

    OMFG none of you know what you are talking about at all. Seriously do you even look into anything about recruiting before you open your mouths??? Go on ESPN last year we had 6-7 four star recruits this year we already have 8 and according to a number of recruiting analysts we swayed a number of big time recruits to come here after they visited this weekend. RELAX Jesus you all honestly make me embarrassed to be a WVU fan sometimes. Every single game the sky is falling, its called a rebuilding year if you had told me at the beginning of the season we would have played close and had a chance to beat Oklahoma, Texas, Texas Tech, and actually would beat OK-State I wouldn't have believed you. We lost 95% of our offense and 3 NFL star caliber players. So relax and support the team, or just stop following it, honestly we don't need any fair weather PITT style fans here and that's what a lot of you sound like. Also to the obvious Marshall fans on here, I guess you have to comment on stories about WVU and talk trash considering your team couldn't win more than 2 games in any power conference, so keep talking.

    • JaneM

      @MM .... Great post ...love it ...Wish there was more who can understand how today's football system is works .....with all the redshirt freshman's we have this year... We can reload with them next year... Won't be no more rebuilding as we see it today...

  • stevewvu

    Wow there sure are a lot of Marshall fans on here who think they know something about big time college football. In WVU's biggest rebuilding year possibly ever, they still have a chance to go to a bowl game. They have beaten a top 15 team (Oklahoma State) this year and played both Texas and Oklahoma extremely close. WVU is not going to be mired in mediocrity like MU has been pretty much forever. WVU has beaten big time teams in big time games on the big stage. This school knows what it takes to beat schools like Georgia, Oklahoma, Texas, Auburn, and Clemson. Considering the fact that MU has NEVER beaten WVU in football and consistently lose to MAC powerhouse Ohio and teams like Middle Tennessee St., it would probably be best that you guys mind your own business and worry about your own school.

    Based on what I saw Saturday, the future looks bright despite what some of you marshall fan experts, palm readers and psychics think.

    Proud to be a Mountaineer!

  • Randall

    The most disappointing thing to me about the current situation in Morgantown is the staff's inability to have a functional QB in the system. With Holgerson's reputation for crazy QB numbers, it never occurred to me that we would be so thin at QB. We'd better get used to it, because Crest isn't coming until the fall, and it will be difficult for him to compete. Maybe Childress can be improved, but this is his second year in the system and he still looked lost. If Trickett is the starter against Alabama, at his size, he'll never last the game.

  • Richard

    Let me make it simple. Fire Folgerson!

  • Da Dogg

    Another well written article that shows why Metronews is the best source of information for all things WV. Oh hello, good morning moderator.

  • Jason

    Somebody get Rich Rod on the phone.

    • Marcus

      why??

  • Big Larry

    "the defense played pretty well"

    Thank you...this proves my point...and these people do not even realize what they are saying....unbelievable!