MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Considering how Shelton Gibson’s speed gives FBS secondaries the willies, you can imagine what trepidation Youngstown State’s safeties faced Saturday.
Those fears crystallized when the West Virginia receiver detonated for 171 yards on six catches, sparking the slow-starting Mountaineers to a 38-21 victory.
That was quite a turnaround from Week 1 when Gibson’s six catches against Missouri produced only 39 yards.
“Last week vs. Missouri wasn’t really that frustrating,” he said. “I know we have a lot of a games, and I understood the way they were playing us. As long as we’re winning, that’s all that matters.”
Week 2 didn’t start well for Gibson, who had trouble getting a clean release off the line against Youngstown State cornerback Kenny Bishop.
“I was getting cussed out by coaches because (Bishop) was getting his hands on me more than he should,” Gibson said.
The day changed when Gibson beat Bishop’s backup Nate Dortch (and a late-arriving safety) for a 54-yard touchdown in the second quarter. That tied the score at 14-all and began a string of 24 unanswered points for the Mountaineers.
Gibson drew coach Dana Holgorsen’s ire in the third quarter by creating an illegal formation penalty, though the receiver claims he checked with an official to make sure he was aligned appropriately.
Gibson made amends on the next snap, racing behind Bishop for a 43-yard catch.
“Yeah, I’m just glad Coach Holgorsen kept me in,” Gibson said.
Later, Gibson outran Bishop to catch a 57-yard bomb that pushed the lead to 31-14. Again, the safety was tardy thanks to Skyler Howard’s play-action.
“Skyler did a great job of putting his head down and selling the play fake,” said West Virginia receivers coach Tyron Carrier. “By the time the safeties scoot up, we’re even with them and ain’t nobody going to catch us from behind.”
After posting a career-best in yardage, Gibson sounded proudest of his decoy-style assist that sprang freshman Kennedy McKoy on a 21-yard touchdown reception.
West Virginia showed twin-stacked receivers when Gibson stepped back to simulate a screen pass. As both Youngstown State defenders converged, Howard flipped the pass to McKoy running uncovered at the goal line.
“I was like, ‘Bro, are you ready to go get your first touchdown?’ I said I’m going to selling it like crazy for you,” Gibson said. “I stuck my foot in the ground and I heard their defensive coordinator say ‘Go! Go! Go! Attack the screen.’ So I knew Kennedy was wide-open.”