The Chalkboard: West Virginia Mountaineers – Oklahoma State Cowboys

In this age of analytics, quarterback accuracy, as gagued by completion percentage, has become a more important measuring stick for passers of the football. Yards and touchdowns still count, but the number of connections between QB and receiver in ratio to total attempts has become more important in evaluating the play of the man who triggers every offensive snap.

While that is important, however, there’s one step further that needs to be taken in really zeroing in on just how well a quarterback is throwing the ball. That’s the one that measures not just completions, but where and how the ball arrives to receivers running their routes.

Take, for example, a fast receiver running a quick cross or in-cut route that has a step on a trailing defender, and an open seam in front of him.  A pass that hits him on the hands, in-stride, allows him the greatest opportunity to add more yards after the catch or rack up an explosive play.  One that’s just a bit behind him, say, on his hip, or forces him to alter his speed or route may still result in a completion, but it also gives the defender a chance to get back into the play, and perhaps make a tackle before more yardage can be gained.

West Virginia (1-0) vs. OSU (1-0) Sat Sep 26   3:30 PM ET
Boone Pickens Stadium Stillwater, OK TV: ABC
Poll: WVU – 32  OSU – 18 Series: OSU 7-4 Last Game: OSU 20-13
Twitter: @BlueGoldNews Facebook: BlueGoldNews Web: BlueGoldNews.com

 

While WVU head coach Neal Brown didn’t detail any particular passes that fell into that area in the Mountaineers’ win over Eastern Kentucky, it was clear that he had that very thing in mind when evaluating the passing game in that contest.

“The accuracy wasn’t quite what we needed it to be,” he explained. “That needs to improve. We missed a couple of throws that (Jarret Doege) usually makes, and left some yards and big plays out there.”

That also highlights the importance of the pass rush, and not just one that produces sacks. Getting a quarterback “off the spot” and out of his rhythm can produce throws that are a bit off the mark. So too can getting hands up in a QBs field of vision — an art that seems to be less and less prevalent as the game marches on.

So, when watching the Mountaineers and Cowboys battle it out on Saturday afternoon in Stillwater, let your stat provider keep track of completions while you monitor real on-target and on-time throws.

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Hall-of Fame running back Thurman Thomas will become the first inductee into the Oklahoma State football Ring of Honor on Saturday. The Cowboys will wear white uniforms that are a replica of what OSU wore in the 1987 Sun Bowl, which was Thomas’ last game as a Cowboy. The Cowboys won that game, 35-33, and Thomas was the game’s most valuable player with 33 carries for 157 yards. Mountaineer fans of a certain age will recall that WVU missed on a two-point conversion pass attempt by Major Harris to tie the game with four minutes to play, and those that were there will also remember the snow on that Christmas Day, which was reportedly the first on Dec. 25 in fifty years in El Paso.

Finally, it’s fair to note that had WVU won the game (or even tied it?) A.B. Brown would have been in line for MVP honors with his 32 carries for 167 yards and two scores.

And, of course, the Pokes’ quarterback in that game? Mike Gundy.

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Will weather be a factor in this game? After a relatively cool summer, temperatures in Stilwater are expected to rise to the low 90s on Saturday. With both coaches noting that their teams weren’t in peak physical or cardiovascular shape in their openers, the reality of a spiked thermometer could have an effect on players on both sides in the afternoon contest.

STILLWATER WEATHER

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Without looking, who on WVU’s current roster is the leader in games played as a Mountaineer?  Seniors such as Darius Stills, Evan Staley, Sean Mahone and Dylan Tonkery would be good guesses, but the answer is safety Osman Kamara. The WVU special teams stalwart has seen action in 38 games in his career.

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OSU running back Chuba Hubbard quite rightly gets a good deal of notoriety and attention, but WVU can’t ignore backup LD Brown, either. The senior had 63 yards on just nine carries against Tulsa, and while he has had an up and down career he looks poised to be a consistent threat in 2020. West Virginia can’t relax when he is giving Hubbard a rest.

The Mountaineers hope the reverse is also true, and that Leddie Brown and Alec Sinkfield, who posted identical games of 123 yards against EKU, can also develop into a 1-2 punch. It probably isn’t a stretch to say that the duo which combines for the most yards will have a significant impact on the outcome.