Grading the Mountaineers: West Virginia vs. Iowa State
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – West Virginia battled a wave of injuries and hung with Iowa State for the first half, but the Cyclones ground down the Mountaineers in the second half to score the 38-14 victory.
Here’s our grading of WVU’s performance against the Cyclones.
Atmosphere – A week ago against Texas, West Virginia had its largest crowd (62,069) in 16 years. Seven days later, the attendance (51,836) wasn’t nearly as good. WVU students were in the midst of a fall break – why the University scheduled such a vacation during a home game weekend is another question – so many were out of town, leaving the student section half full. The general public crowd was better but didn’t fill their seats either. Admittedly the day started cool and drizzly, but by the 4 p.m. kickoff, the sun was out and it felt warmer than the mid-50s temperatures. Those who did show up got loud at times, but the atmosphere paled in comparison to the one at Mountaineer Field the Saturday before. Grade – C-
Offense – After losing starting quarterback Austin Kendall to a shoulder injury on WVU’s first possession of the game, the Mountaineer offense spurted for a bit. A three-and-out was followed by a Leddie Brown fumble that killed what started out as a promising drive, and Iowa State ultimately turned that turnover into a TD. But on West Virginia’s final possession of the first half, Kendall’s replacement, Jack Allison, led the Mountaineers on a 10-play, 66-yard scoring march that resulted in a touchdown and a 14-14 tie at halftime. Allison was 6-7 throwing the ball on that TD drive and 10 of 12 for 107 yards in the first half in all. The Mountaineers couldn’t replicate that in the second half, though, and didn’t put any points on the board in the final 30 minutes, gaining just 46 yards of total offense in that time. Grade – D+
Defense – Considering all the youth West Virginia had on the field – true freshmen Nicktroy Fortune and Tykee Smith started in the secondary, and three other first-year defenders, Jordan Jefferson, Kerry Martin and Tae Mayo, also saw significant snaps – the Mountaineers held up pretty well against Iowa State quarterback Brock Prudy and the Cyclones … at least for a half. Iowa State had been forced to just two three-and-outs in its first five games, but had two in the first quarter against WVU alone. The second of those came when Smith grabbed a bobbled ISU pass and took it 19 yards to the end zone for a pick-six. It wasn’t all perfect for West Virginia’s D, which gave up a couple long scoring drives to Iowa State in the second quarter, but still all things considered, it was a solid defensive effort in the first half. The second half was a different story, though, particularly the fourth quarter. The Cyclones scored 24 points in the second half, and 17 of those in the fourth quarter, to put things out of reach. Grade C-
Special Teams – West Virginia did a nice job on kickoff returns, and its punter Josh Growden was also very good. Other than that, the Mountaineers didn’t have a lot of special teams opportunities. Grade B
Coaching – One senior corner wasn’t suited up because of an injury and the other starting CB was ejected in the second half for a target. Keith Washington and Deamonte Lindsay did not play. Offensively, WVU also had been dealing with plenty of injuries and then to add to that, it lost its starting quarterback, Austin Kendall, to a shoulder/chest issue in the first quarter. All things considered, I’m not sure what West Virginia’s coaches could have done to keep this any closer. Prayer maybe would have helped, but there were no miracles on this day. Grade C