AUSTIN, Texas — West Virginia’s offensive line couldn’t create running room in the first half and couldn’t protect Clint Trickett in the second.
That combination sabotaged several early drives and ultimately squashed any comeback hopes in a 33-16 loss at Texas.
West Virginia failed to convert on third-and-goal at the 1 in the first quarter, and again on a pair of third-and-2 tries in the second quarter. Another drive stalled at the Texas 37 after back-to-back negative-yardage runs.
“In those situations, in my opinion, that’s when effort is revealed,” said Shannon Dawson. “In short-yardage situations where they weren’t necessarily stacking the box, we should have been able to get the first down and we didn’t.
“You’ve got to bow your neck and push them off the ball. Texas won those battles.”
By halftime WVU had rushed 17 times for only 42 yards, trailed 24-3 and had more punts than points.
“There was two or three times where it was fourth and inches,” said quarterback Clint Trickett. “We needed just that much to keep the drive alive.”
Keeping Trickett alive became the mission in the second half.
With the West Virginia playing catch-up, he was stripped on a blind-side hit by Cedric Reed. The Texas defensive end also dropped Trickett for a safety thanks to a stunt that “just opened up like the red sea.”
An unseen element of Trickett being flattened in his own end zone: WVU thought it had Kevin White running deep on a play that might have ended in the other end zone.
“We had a wide-open receiver on the double-move, but we just didn’t have enough time to get it to him,” Trickett said. “It would’ve been a 99-yard touchdown.”
White thought the same as he set up the route: “We were going to take a shot deep, and we got the coverage that we wanted. I thought the ball was coming for sure. I’m confident I would’ve came down with the play, but we didn’t have time.”
Of West Virginia’s 158 rushing yards in the seconds half, 62-yarder came on a Dreamius Smith burst that caught the Texas pass rushers pinning their ears back with a 16-point lead.
Reed’s sack exchange: After making only 1.5 sacks all season, Reed got to Trickett three times Saturday.
“I knew it was coming,” he said. “Someone just had to have the right scheme for me to go out there and play against, and it happened to be West Virginia.”
On his first sack, Reed was blocked wide by right tackle Marquis Lucas only to have Trickett essentially scramble into the takedown. Fortunate or not, Reed told assistant coach Chris Rumph that “sacks come in bunches, so you better watch out.”
Reed swapped sides and victimized left tackle Adam Pankey on the sack that forced a fumble.
“Our tackles get in a bind every now and again,” Dawson said, “and we don’t want to put them in the situations where (defenses) obviously know we’re throwing it.”
In recent weeks Reed admitted he was costing himself NFL money by not pressuring quarterbacks. Some of that, coaches said, was attributed to Reed no longer being turned loose on pass rushes like he was last season. That changed a bit versus West Virginia.
“The coaches came to me last Sunday and said, ‘We’re going to give you more plays and put you in spots for one-on-ones,'” Reed said. “That’s what happened tonight.”
As well as Reed played, making 12 tackles, Texas head coach Charlie Strong said he could have made two more sacks if not for hesitating on other blitzes.
“It was fun watching Ced Reed finally come alive tonight,” Strong said. “It was amazing to watch him and the plays he made.”