Spavital Discouraged With Offensive Effort, Execution
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Jake Spavital surmised West Virginia’s offensive play succinctly.
“I thought there were struggles at everything at times,” Spavital said. “It’s one of the first games in a long time where I called everything on the call sheet just to see if we could get something sparked.”
No dice. The only flames the Mountaineers’ fanned were ones that burned themselves. WVU rushed for just 62 yards – at a paltry two yards per pop – and converted two of 15 third downs. Will Grier threw four interceptions and routinely showcased a lack of timing and crispness with the receivers. David Sills was shut out of the end zone for just the second time this season, finishing with just three catches for 44 yards.
There were drops by Ka’Raun White and the normally sure-handed Gary Jennings. Justin Crawford fumbled. Kyle Bosch false started deep in the Mountaineers’ own end. And there were three fumbles, one lost, for a total of five turnovers. Frankly, it was a shock the offense managed 39 points and the final score was as close as it was after Oklahoma State racked up 50 points.
“It was tough to get anything going,” Spavital said. “They are a very good defense. I give them credit. We got outplayed, outcoached. I thought our physicality was missing.”
That started the snowball rolling downhill. And it simply grew as the game wore on, to the point where West Virginia totaled eight drives of five or fewer yards. The times of possession? On eight drives, it was less than 90 seconds – not nearly enough rest time for a defense taxed with playing 90 snaps on the other side while WVU took just 72.
“We were calling draws, screens, calling everything,” Spavital said. “From my outlook, we always had one guy who wasn’t on the same page. If it was first down, we’d take a sack. There was miscommunication with an offensive linemen. We drop a ball or Will is high on a throw. I just felt like nothing was clocking in terms of there always being one person who was off.
“We talked about doing the little things right, minimizing mistakes, minimizing negative plays and penalties and I thought we were awful at that. We ended up playing behind the chains, and with a team like that it is going to be tough to sit back in third and nine throw drop back. It’s a culmination of everything in how the game went on.”
The biggest culprit was the line. Grier was harried and harassed for much of the game due to subpar pass protection. OSU’s defensive front dominated the trench, often creating a new line of scrimmage in the Mountaineer backfield. Crawford had only 45 yards, while Kennedy McKoy had 30. And the 4.8-yard average is a good six feet shy of what head coach Dana Holgorsen wants from his offense.
“It gets tough; run game you still have to stay true to it,” Spavital said. “That’s kind of what we do: We call run and we operate off that. We throw off run. We struggled on some of the run plays and then were stuck in a lot of third and long situations. That’s another thing we were very poor at. Our third down situations – we were two of 15. That’s unacceptable, especially against a team like that.”
Factor in that West Virginia scored just seven points off three Oklahoma State turnovers – the interception for a score doesn’t count as that was a purely defensive play – and there’s little wonder the efficiency and effectiveness seemed at a season low despite the point totals.
“They came out and hit us in the mouth,” Spavital said. “That’s completely on us, on me and I have to find a way to get the mojo back on offense. No excuses. We just didn’t come to play. There’s a lot of ways to point the finger. At the end of the day that’s on us. We didn’t go out there and execute.”