Grading the Mountaineers: West Virginia vs. Texas Tech
MORGANTOWN, W.Va.– West Virginia had hoped that its struggles would end with the close of its killer October schedule.
But November didn’t start any better, as the Mountaineers fell to 3-6 following a 38-17 beatdown at the hands of Texas Tech.
Here is how we graded WVU’s performance against the Red Raiders.
Atmosphere – It was 41 degrees at kickoff, but on a mostly sunny afternoon, the weather really wasn’t too bad for November in West Virginia. The attendance (56,573) at the outset was fair. There were certainly empty seats, but considering WVU had lost four straight coming into Saturday’s affair, it really was a decent crowd. There wasn’t much for those blue-clad fans to get excited about, though, as Texas Tech tore through the Mountaineers en route to a 35-10 halftime lead. By the time the two teams kicked off for the second half, there were wide swaths of newly-emptied seats. Grade C-
Offense – Despite the overall issues Saturday against the Red Raiders, the WVU offense actually did some reasonable things – at least considering its season-long struggles – moving the football, as the Mountaineers had 498 yards of total offense. Quarterback Austin Kendall completed 26-of-43 passes for 355 yards, and if not for several ill-timed drops, he would have had even better numbers. He had two interceptions, but one came because it bounced off George Campbell’s hands, though the other was the result of his one truly poor throw of the day. WVU fans also got their first view of backup QB Jarret Doege, who completed 11-of-17 attempts for 118 yards. West Virginia continued to struggle to run the ball (51 yards on 18 carries), but the biggest problems were the drops and the four turnovers. They undid any good accomplished by other aspects of the Mountaineer offense. Grade D
Defense – Texas Tech ripped through the Mountaineer defense for 35 points and 337 yards of offense … in the first half alone. The Red Raiders reached the end zone on each of their first five possessions, scoring from both close – runs of two, four, one and two yards – and far – an 81-yard pass. West Virginia had eight sacks in its previous game against Baylor, but put very little pressure on Tech QB Jett Duffey, who was rarely hassled as he completed 24-of-34 passes for 354 yards. WVU’s defense got a great deal of praise for its effort in the 17-14 loss to Baylor, but such accolades certainly won’t follow this latest performance. Grade F
Special Teams – West Virginia’s special teams have been solid much of the season, but they struggled Saturday against the Red Raiders. Poor kick coverage and senseless penalties were the biggest flaws. The Mountaineers badly needed some positives from their special team, but those units provided mainly negatives. There weren’t any earth-shatteringly bad moments, but there were no good ones either. Grade D+
Coaching – I recite the same facts pretty much each week, and they remain true; the WVU coaches are admittedly playing short-handed. They took over a program that lacked talent and experience from the start of the season, and multiple injuries have significantly cut into those limited resources since. Despite those truths, West Virginia’s coaches have typically gotten the Mountaineers to play hard. That’s something you can’t say about Saturday’s performance against Texas Tech, though, especially on the defensive side. In terms of overall effort and execution, this was the low point of 2019. Grade F