Rapid Reaction : West Virginia 45 Maryland 6
by: Brandon Priddy
Today’s rapid reaction isn’t as rapid as normal because I spent a rainy postgame afternoon building a horse shed. But there is still plenty to talk about so I’ll throw out what I’ve got:
- Credit Dana Holgorsen for recognizing the limitation of the air raid being lack of ground game and tweaking it accordingly. Today we saw perhaps the best embodiment of what he wants to do every week: near-perfect balance with 304 rushing yards and 297 through the air. And those air yards were amazingly efficient – Skyler Howard finished 21/33 for 294 yards and 4 scores. That’s an average of 14 yards per completion and nearly 1 score per 5 completions. They ran consistently as Wendell Smallwood and Rushel Shell led the charge with 147 and 77 yards respectively and used the passing game to take big shots down the field. In short, it was a well-oiled machine.
- Between the red zone success of WVU and Holgo’s propensity to get swaggy when things are going well, there’s roughly a 3 million percent chance he drops one of his trademark dry comments in his weekly presser. I’m guessing something along the lines of “(cough) yeah we did pretty well in the red zone but I’m sure some of you want to see us get 9 points out of those trips so we’re working on that.”
- And while Swaggy Holgo is always fun, what could REALLY be a good time is Swaggy Jed. The SignalCaller himself was banging the drum against banging the drum on red zone problems, taking a few paragraps in his weekly Hot Reads column to tackle that very subject and all but predicting Saturday’s success (5 red zone trips, 5 TDs) with this paragraph: What I haven’t seen is a lack of effort. For a West Virginia offense that’s been led this year by a quarterback making just his third and fourth career starts and has featured three redshirt-sophomores, a redshirt-freshman and a true freshman, I’m confident that the best of what we’ll see from this crew – in the red zone and otherwise – is still ahead.
- A near perfect performance from WVU’s punt and kick coverage teams against quite possibly the most dangerous return man in America. Maryland’s Will Likely entered the game as the nation’s #2 punt returner, averaging 28.08 yards on 12 returns with a pair of TDs. Against WVU he didn’t log a single punt return, and averaged a modest 16.2 yards on 4 kickoff returns. For a program that has a….uhh….spotty history of punt coverage, that was a very telling stat.
- I’ve used the word perfect a few times here and that gives me the willies. My general sense with most teams and certainly WVU is that it’s hard to follow up one perfect performance with another, and with a trip to Norman to face OU next on the slate, it’s going to take a great performance from WVU to get to 4-0. Now having said that they did follow up the virtuoso performance against Baylor last year with a great win at Oklahoma State, so maybe I’m worried about nothing. It’s a nice problem to have.
It’s a great win, a great night and great to be 3-0. We’ll be back with the Mountaineer Retweet here in a couple day so until then enjoy that goosegg on the right side of the ledger and