There was a lot of hype coming into the Oklahoma State game and rightfully so. West Virginia played TCU tight down in Fort Worth and since then, they had a come from behind win at home against a ranked Texas Tech team and found a way to win on the road against a scrappy Baylor team.
No matter who the Mountaineers are playing at home, there is always optimism that West Virginia will pull out the victory, even when hosting the #1 offense in the country, the #11 ranked Cowboys was no different.
The hype was understandable, Will Grier came into the game with the nation’s longest streak of 300+ yard passing games (7), Sills was unstoppable on the outside, and the defense has been improving each week.
Going into the game, turnovers has decided this games in this series since West Virginia came into the Big XII. The Mountaineers looked to be starting in the right direction with two early turnovers but could not capitalize on the Cowboys early mistakes. In fact, the West Virginia offense couldn’t play mistake free themselves. Oklahoma State put up 28 points on 5 West Virginia turnovers.
The West Virginia defense created 4 turnovers, but the offense could only muster up 7 points on three opportunities. The defense had just as many points on turnovers as the offense when freshman Kenny Robinson picked off Heisman candidate Mason Rudolph and took it to the house for a pick six.
The special teams got into the mix with a blocked punt and recovered it into the end zone for a touchdown.
After Kenny Robinson interception for a touchdown, the #11 ranked Oklahoma up state Cowboys found there 20-point lead dwindled to just 6. Mountaineer Field was rocking, despite some early departures from some of the Mountaineer faithful.
The defense was coming back onto the field with all the momentum on West Virginia’s side, but a poorly placed kick that went 34 yards gave the Cowboys the Ball at their own 40. The defense would ride the momentum and hold the Cowboys to a 3 and out but would pin the Mountaineers deep in their own territory at the 3-yard line.
Mountaineer fans were just waiting on the offensive explosion they have grown accustomed to over the year. It would never come.
The offense would only get 19 yards on 8 plays. After a 34-yard punt by Bill Kinney, the Cowboys would get the ball in West Virginia territory, at the 48-yard line.
Oklahoma State would take full advantage of the great field position and drive 48 yards in 9 plays for the touchdown. The Cowboys never looked back, keeping a double digit lead the rest of the game,
So, what happened to the West Virginia offense that looked so good, especially the passing game?
Well, it all starts up front. The offensive line has not played well the last three games. They have looked slow and there is no push up front. West Virginia has had one 100+ yards rushing in the last 3 games, coming against Baylor (118) and Justin Crawford hasn’t had a 100-yard rushing performance since the TCU game.
“ .. it wasn’t a lot of missed assignments as far as that goes, it was more-less technique, pad levels, fundamentals and finishing things, that we need to get better at” says offensive line coach Joe Wickline after the game.
Fundamentals should not be a problem after 8 games into the season.
“I’m certainly not putting everything on the offensive line but in a physical game like this, that’s kind of where you get exposed” said Holgorsen after the game.
The receivers looked like they were never into the game. Their routes where not crisp and as a unit there were several dropped passes on the day. “I thought our receivers were sluggish” said Holgorsen.
Will Grier had his worst game of his collegiate career finishing the day with 285 yards on 20-42 passing, 2 touchdowns and 4 interceptions.
The West Virginia offense that had been the bright spot all year, even during big games, but they did not show up against Oklahoma State. Dana gave a lot of credit to the Cowboys, as he should, but the offense never got in sync,
The West Virginia offense needs to find some answers or they could end up losing the next four games.