Tommy Gilligan/USA TODAY Sports

West Virginia’s Clint Trickett threw for a season-high 356 yards against Iowa State, albeit in a 52-44 overtime loss.

 

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — For one more time in 2013, we trade on the upticks and the downturns of a West Virginia football team, evaluating each unit’s performance after a 52-44 three-overtime loss to Iowa State:

QUARTERBACKS
After completing 21-of-37 passes for 356 yards and two touchdowns, Clint Trickett said he’ll approach the offseason as though the quarterback job is his to lose. “I’d like to think it will be put to bed here soon,” he said. “Going into the spring there’s always going to be guys trying to get your job. I look forward to competing with Paul and Ford again and whoever we bring in.”
Trickett tossed two interceptions Saturday, though one deflected off Kevin White’s hands and the other came on a Hail Mary to close regulation.
RUNNING BACKS
Charles Sims became “Mr. 1,000″ for the season with a 149-yard effort on 24 carries. His two scoring runs covered 7 and 76 yards, the last representing WVU’s longest play from scrimmage this season (until Mario Alford’s 76-yard touchdown catch equaled it three series later). Sims made two catches, including a 22-yarder to set up a first-and-goal at the 3 in triple-overtime. He was afforded two more cracks at running it in from there, but Iowa State stacked the box.
Dreamius Smith ripped off a 45-yard run to finish with 58 on five carries, and Wendell Smallwood had an eventful 14 yards on four carries, including two fumbles. One was overturned upon review, but a controversial goal-line fumble was allowed to stand even though Smallwood appeared to lunge into the endzone before the ball popped loose.
RECEIVERS
With 215 yards on eight receptions, Alford ended 2013 by giving WVU’s passing game hope for 2014. His midseason move from the slot to outside receiver paid dividends by allowing him to simplify his route-running. And as his catches of 76, 40 and 30 yards showed, he can be a dangerous YAC threat.
Though Kevin White caught a 17-yard touchdown, he was held to two catches or fewer for the sixth time in 11 games. The junior is simply too fast, big-bodied and dynamic to vanish in so many games.
Speaking of vanishing, Daikiel Shorts did so intermittently this season—though he still enjoyed an encouraging freshman campaign by tying Sims for the team lead with 45 catches. The finale was not one of Shorts;’ better games: He caught a 22-yard pass before half and a tipped 3-yarder on the game’s final play, being tackled shy of the end zone.
Vernon Davis Jr.’s lone 13-yard catch ended in a fumble that helped fuel ISU’s comeback.

Joe Sadlek/All-Pro Photography

Mario Alford caught eight passes for 215 yards against Iowa State.

 

OFFENSIVE LINE
The postgame image of Pat Eger crumpling to his knees brought a heartbreaking end to the career of a swing guy who worked hard to develop into a center this season. Though he continued to have some off-target shotgun snaps, his final game featured some notable highlights. He combined with left guard Quinton Spain to open a gaping hole for Sims’ 76-yard touchdown. Eger also came off a double-team to chip a run blitzer and spring Smith’s 45-yarder.
Right guard Mark Glowinski did a spectacular job on Sims’ 7-yard scoring run—sealing off the inside and then kicking out a second defender to create a seam.
While playing through a knee injury, right tackle Curtis Feigt allowed a fourth-down sack, but he and left tackle Nick Kindler delivered solid Senior Day efforts. Reserve tackle Adam Pankey did not play much after being beaten badly by Cory Morrissey on a first-half sack. But pass protection was adequate: On 39 drop-backs, Trickett was bothered only a handful of times.
WVU averaged 5.9 yards per carry on its way to 212 rushing yards. That’s a productive day for the line, though it was overmatched during the three extra periods—netting only 3 yards on five running plays as ISU outnumbered blockers.

Tommy Gilligan/USA TODAY Sports

Senior offensive lineman Pat Eger reacts after WVU was stopped at the 2-yard line in overtime of a 52-44 loss to Iowa State.

 

DEFENSIVE LINE
Despite some individual standouts (Will Clarke and Kyle Rose), the line receives a down grade because Iowa State piled up season-highs in total offense (575 yards), rushing (244 yards) and points. And this deluge of offense transpired one day before Cyclones coach Paul Rhoads fired offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Courtney Messingham.
Clarke made 2.5 tackles behind the line and his 17 TFLs currently rank second in the Big 12, though a few pursuers have another regular-season game remaining. His six sacks rank sixth in the league. Rose made six stops and figures to be one of the keys to next season’s front.
Shaq Rowell, after playing through knee soreness all season (and playing more snaps than expected due to the loss of backup Christian Brown), was neutralized in his final game. Noble Nwachukwu forced a fumble, Darrien Howard made three stops and Eric Kinsey showed his mobility by making a sack after dropping into zone coverage.
Seldom-used junior Trevor Demko knifed through a gap in double-OT to make a third-down stop.
LINEBACKERS
Nick Kwiatkoski made 14 tackles to close the season with a team-leading 86 and added his third interception to set up a WVU touchdown. However he was fooled on the read-option fake handoff that turned into Grant Rohach’s 54-yard touchdown keeper. Kwiatkoski left the game in double-overtime after taking a helmet to the hip from teammate Karl Joseph, the king of friendly fire.
Brandon Golson forced his fifth fumble of the season but also received a silly unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on ISU’s first TD drive and missed a tackle on Shontrelle Johnson’s fourth-quarter touchdown. Doug Rigg, returning from his second concussion, and Isaiah Bruce, coping with a sore shoulder, made five tackles each. Bruce was beaten on tight end E.J. Bibbs’ 2-point conversion in the final OT.
This unit, though short-handed, was as much to blame as any after ISU exploded for 24 fourth-quarter points (which was more than the Cyclones’ per-game scoring average). “With the injuries we had, people just need to step up,” said Kwiatkoski. “It’s the nature of the game. Once your time’s there, you’ve just got to make plays. Every football team struggles with injuries. It’s a physical sport.”

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Iowa State’s Shontrelle Johnson (21) celebrates with teammates after scoring a touchdown in the fourth quarter against West Virginia.

 

SECONDARY
This unit hasn’t been very reliable with senior safety Darwin Cook. Without him, however, the results were more brutal as Rohach threw for 331 yards in only his third start. Iowa State obviously wasn’t a vaunted passing offense—this was a redshirt freshman quarterback throwing to a D-II transfer (Justin Coleman) at crucial times. They hooked up for the tying touchdown at the end of regulation and the eventual winner in triple-overtime.
Jeremy Tyler (10 tackles, one forced fumble in his first start) was late chasing Coleman on the 19-yarder that tied the game at 38-all, and Daryl Worley (seven tackles after moving from corner to safety) was fooled by a read-option fake on Coleman’s 25-yard catch in OT.
The most jarring slip-up occurred on Rohach’s third-and-14 fourth-quarter pass that went to Quenton Bundrage for a 62-yard score. Backup safety Jarrod Harper, manning the middle third of the field, took a poor angle as Bundrage raced free from the corner on a post route. “We’re playing three-deep coverage with man underneath—that should be the last coverage that ever gives up a touchdown pass,” said defensive coordinator Keith Patterson.
Joseph (nine tackles) returned a fumble 38 yards to give WVU a 17-0 lead before Iowa State’s offense got revving.
SPECIAL TEAMS
Josh Lambert connected on field goals of 49, 41 and 26 yards, while missing from 51. (He closed the season a respectable 17-of-23 with four misfires coming from 50 or beyond.) WVU’s Avery Williams blocked a Cole Netten 28-yard try.
Nick O’Toole averaged 56 yards on three punts to finish the year with a 44.1 average. The punt play that transformed the game, however, came when Iowa State’s Kirby Van Der Kamp streaked 21 yards on a fourth-and-17 fake.
ISU held an edge in the return game, netting 149 yards on six kick returns while WVU gained 102 on the same number. Smallwood skated laterally on a 6-yard return forcing WVU to start at its own 9.
COACHING
The presumption is Dana Holgorsen and his staff will get another year to try and rebound, but season-ending losses to Kansas and Iowa State certainly have turned up the heat. Holgorsen said the program is headed in the right direction, but then WVU fails to protect a 17-point fourth-quarter lead against a team that had dropped its four Big 12 road games by 35 points.
The like-clockwork swoons that occurred in the second halves of games calls into question a number of facets—such as conditioning, depth and good ol’ fortitude. Fixing players between the ears is a part of coaching, especially where repeated late-game lapses are concerned. The depth issue is one for recruiting, and with Holgorsen on the verge of signing his third class, it’s no longer convenient to blame the talent void on Bill Stewart’s tactics or the program’s past life in the Big East.

Ben Queen/MetroNews photo

Coach Dana Holgorsen speaks to the media after Saturday’s season-ending loss to Iowa State in Morgantown.
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Comments

  • richard

    wenkev, you need to get your facts straight. call the sportsline show and ask greg hunter if he wasn't ready to come. and this was after stewart. some people know everything and you are one---but you don't!

    • Larry

      A coach would be crazy to leave FSU for WV, no players here, thousands there, pretty simple.

      • appikid

        11.3 million buy out clause might make them think a little! HUMMMM

    • wenkev

      Yeah. ok. sure. If that's the case then he should still be ready to come back. Probably still has those "bags packed". Give him a call and ask him. Florida State- WVU, there really is no difference, right? If he was so ready to come why did WV hire Stewart when they did? Fisher was available while Bowden was still head coach and again, like I said, PASTILONG hired Stewart, a real proven head coach, right? I liked the man, but he was in over his head. Holgersen may be too but I am willing to give him another year.

      • Richard L.

        wenken,

        correction. Joe Manchin told Pastilong to hire him or else. Just like Manchin forced us to play the Community College of Huntington.

        • Jason

          (fyi..that community college in Huntington would beat WVU by 20 this year)..I get the 0-12 thing...but most of those games were during WVU's golden years and during a very very bad stretch where MU was floundering...so go ahead and continue to take shots at MU about previous games..because the past is all you have...the future does not look good in Morganhole. Thanks for Doc by the way!

          • appikid

            Ya know, I am so darn tired of hearing the Mountaineer Nation talk bad about Marshall! The last time I checked Huntington was still a part of WV. There is only one day out of the year I root against the Herd and that is when they play the gold and blue! Grow up! Marshall could win the C-USA title! And Coach Holiday played and coached at WVU, don't you want him to be successful! Come on true West Virginians,lets get behind them! GOOOO HERD!

          • Richard

            Jason, That's very easy to say when they aren't playing. It's also a bunch of bull. May I remind you that you lost to a very poor VT team. I'll give you this much- it is possible Marshall could have beat WV if WV would have played the way they did against Iowa State or Kansas, but no way if WV played the way they did against Texas, OK, OK St. You couldn't beat us with Pennington and Moss. You sure wouldn't with Cato. Keep dreaming.

          • Richard

            Appikid, Have you ever seen Marshall do anything but whine and cry and bad mouth WVU? The answer is no. They are the ones who created this animosity between the two.

        • Benthere

          Richard you are 100 percent correct. Joe pulled the strings on this one. No one was drunk. It is exactly what Joe and MP wanted. A coach that would come cheap and do what he was told. They were scared to death of a national coaching search because they would get someone who would push the program on funding and facilities. I feel bad for the late BS. Treated poorly by both parties.

  • Gilbert Gnarley

    Too many changes in too short a time span, perhaps?

    Though not a graduate of WVU I root for them. It seems that a lot of changes occurred within and without the program that may have impacted the final product that took the field, especially fan anticipation and expectations.

    Coach Holgorsen may need time, I just don't know how much time the fans may be willing to give him and his staff. Patience is in extremely short supply in college football.

  • Big Larry

    THE TOP TEN REASONS WVU IS LOSING FOOTBALL GAMES

    1. The facilities are “subpar” making it difficult to attract Top recruits. What is even worse is Morgantown. It is nearly impossible to recruit big time players to a little town like Morgantown.

    2. WVU needs a bigger indoor practice facility that will double as a Hockey arena.

    3. Dana Holgorsen needs at least 2 more years to give his recruits more time to develop.

    4. The Big 12 is not the Big East. It will take time for WVU to adjust to playing in a stronger league. We all knew the transition wouldn’t be easy...plus the travel is hard.

    5. Injuries have really plagued the team. It will take 2 to 3 more years to develop the needed depth to compete in the Big 12.

    6. The coaching staff is fairly new. They need more time to develop a better Strategy.

    7. Marshall University…Many of the losses can be contributed to them and their fans. We do not like them and somehow they are messing things up.

    8. It is hard to recruit players from the East to travel all the way out West to play...plus we don't have any rivalries.

    9. The State of West Virginia does not produce any good football players capable of playing Big time football…like Brian Switzer for example.

    10. WVU does not have the right quarterback. They need a QB who can both pass & run.

  • Troll is back

    The coach takes the blame as to bash individual players like you posters do. If he blamed it on the players you complain, if he takes the blame you complain so I guess it really doesn't matter what he says. The one thing I do know is that all you posters bashing this team will also be the ones singing the praises next year and the years after when this thing is turned around. The one thing I hope is that Holgorsen has the guts to stand up next year and tell all of you that he was right, that we were close and now what you got to say? With the talent coming back, the staff coming back and the new recruits coming in WVU will be fine next year. So with that said posters better change your names next year because I have a list and will call you out the first good comment you post about this staff or team next year. All hail the Mountaineers!

    • Big Larry

      Yes the paid Holgorsen troll is back to help smooth things out...

    • Rock Solid

      OH NO! Troll is making a list! Boy that scares NOBODY! Troll you are one of those people that predicted we would end up 8-4 after our swoon to 4-4. How do you live in such a imaginary world? No quarterback, no success. Rifle with no trigger, is just a pretty gun metal blue stick! We need a big time QB because we can not win with Clint.

  • Joe

    Maybe Mike Timko or John Talley have another year of eligibility.

  • Mickey

    Wonder how all those great Florida fans feel...

    • Harpers Ferry

      And while we're wondering about nonsensical things, I wonder what the price of tea is in China these days.

      • Doug

        Actually Harpersferry that's a good question since we most likey import tea from China instead of making it in the USA these days.

  • JeffMac

    When the head coach, in the post game interview, says in each of the last four interviews that they were out coached, there is something definitely wrong and maybe it is not the players.

  • big tom

    it's all about body language, and just watching dana, leads me to believe he is a quitter,,, just look at his face in bad times,,,a refection of the team,,
    dana's first yr , he was saying you guys and your university,,, meaning , he wanted no part of Morgantown, it was strickly about them money and recognition so he could go back to iowa,,,
    he has lost this team, but we owe him 11 million and his assistants probably another 3 million...both dana and wvu are in between a rock and a hard spot,,, 33.000 for the last game,,, sad.

    • Rock Solid

      What do you do when you show the team over and over what to do in situations and the team goes out, gets the receiver open and the QB messes up the pass by missing the receiver by three to ten yards? The running backs have NO hole to run through? The coaches ARE NOT playing, the players are. You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. Come on!

  • Allan

    If CT thinks the QB job is his to lose, than lose we will. The biggest problem this year was the inconsistency of that position that caused most of the offensive problems. I think we have some very good talented offensive players just waiting to brake out and all we need is a QB that can make it happen. Forget CT and PM and not sure about FC since he hasn't played a whole lot, maybe the incoming freshmen will breathe new life into this horrible situation.

    • Let's Be Real

      Agree about Trickett...Morgantown High is calling him...he should pick up...

  • WVcoal

    Fitting end to a terrible season of Mountaineer football. I hope the team will re-focus and re-dedicate themselves to the TEAM and this program during the off season. Without a bowl, they'll have some extra time to think about it.
    Let's Goooooo Mountaineers!

  • rekterx

    Quarterback at best was a wash.

    Game on the line in the 4th qtr. Dakiel Shorts wide open in the middle. Wiiiiiide Open!

    Trickett throws the ball nowhere near him. Make that play and the game is probably over.

    Interception taken away from Kevin White was a pass that thrown behind him. Game on the line in the 4th quarter and Tricket comes up way short.

    ISU, on the other hand, had a freshman quarterback who found himself in the 4th quarter and OT. And that was the difference in the game.

    Trade quarterbacks in the 4th quarter and we win.

  • Mike

    Mountaineer football used to be fun. It left you feeling happy and upbeat. Big 12 money can't buy happiness. I miss the real old gold and blue, which is what their uniforms used to be too...and their spirit. Nothing about the Mountaineers football team, including the coach, seems like the team I know and have loved for 45 years.

  • richard

    true story. ask greg hunter from blue and gold magazine.

    • Joe

      Jimbo would likely have brought Coach Trickett with him, as well.

    • wenkev

      As usual you are wrong! In 2007 Fisher was guaranteed head coach in waiting at FSU and signed a $2.5 million buyout clause 9 days after WVU lost to Pitt and 6 days BEFORE Rodriguez announced his departure. That was in the early days of these high buyout clauses that nobody wanted to pay so it would have looked mighty hypocritical of WV to try to avoid Fisher's buyout clause while trying to get theirs paid by Rodriguez. Furthermore, Oliver Luck didn't become AD at WV until August 2010 after Fisher became head coach at FSU (Bowden retired after FSU beat WV in the Gator Bowl in Jan 2010) meaning all the blame lands squarely back on the shoulders of Ed 'passive' Pastilong. Nice try Richard!!

  • tw eagle

    well , I did read some "good " news in one of the previous columns this w/e . . .it seems that a couple of the "opera fans " will not be renewing their season tickets . . .blaming the
    "drunks" . . .it's more likely it's just not fashionable anymore , with WVU losing more than winning . . .I personally have never , and will never purchase WVU by the season while they extort a fee for purchasing , I'd rather pay my vigorish to a scalper , and now that vigorish has almost disappeared , with tickets available at the windows . . .

  • richard

    And to think we could have had Jimbo Fisher as our coach!! He was packed and ready to go. Ached to come home to West Virginia and coach the Mountaineers. Was all but told it was his job. But noooooo, Luck had to have his man Holgorsen. Luck is as much to blame for this mess as anyone. More so than Holgorsen.

    • Joe

      Wow Richard, I did not realize that was the case. Jimbo has other plans now....like the national title game.

      What bothers me most is that you can just see how miserable DH is in WV.

      • jeepster

        Holgy doesn't want to be here,and we don't want him here. Why can't they negotiate a cheaper buyout,and get him outta here? Then we can get started on our new future. ( Doc Holliday ?? )

        • Brother Nathaniel

          For their money, RR is the best WV could hope for.

          • hillbilly

            Was at the game Sat. A fan behind me was yelling " Bring back Rich Rod, I forgive him!" Lol

        • al

          That is a simple question to answer. The man makes $3mil a year here and he is smart enough (I think) to know that there is no college out there who would want him. If, by some slim chance, he would ever turn WVU around, he will jump ship then. How many jobs do you know that someone can make $3mil a year for being a total failure? Why would you ever want to leave a job like that?

          • big tom

            THAT'S A GREAT STATEMENT

          • Jason

            No. I would not. I would stick around and get my $ until a better offer comes knocking.

    • tw eagle

      I was never aware of fishers interest , I assumed Bowden was pushed out early so that fisher wouldn't leave . . .I'm guessing that
      AD Luck's choice of Holgerson was a play to the new WVU fans , the "opera fans" who need cell coverage in the stadium to keep themselves occupied while they endure the game and ceremonies . .. I now realize why they have to sound the gong on third down , to get the "opera fans" attention back onto the field of play . . .Holgerson is good fit for these idiots . . .big ego , no sense , an inability to adapt to existing conditions . . .

      I could even go so far as to suggest that Holgerson sabotaged the season because he
      wants the Ford to be "his QB " . . .hurting Trickett and Millard makes the Ford look less loathesome . . .I know this is a stretch , but I can't seem to find another answer for Holgersons ultra conservative play calling in the second halves of games WVU has been leading . . .