WVU Escapes Consequences Of Penalties – For Now
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – In most instances, penalties are game killers. Rack up double-digit flags, or get into triple digits in penalty yardage, and a loss will often be added to the record.
West Virginia avoided that result against Youngstown State, even though it drew 12 flags for 114 yards of walk-offs.
“We weren’t penalized at all last week, and then this week, it was bad,” Holgorsen said.
Six of those were holding calls, which usually are the kiss of death for an offensive series. Against YSU, though, the Mountaineers were able to overcome most of them, managing to score even when set back the requisite ten yards.
A look at those penalties, and the drive results, starting with the offensive infractions:
PENALTY: 1Q Grier, Will pass incomplete to Simms, Marcus, PENALTY WVU holding (Washington, K.) 10 yards to the WVU28, NO PLAY
RESULT: Will Grier interception
While the identification of Keith Washington as the holding culprit was incorrect in the official game stats, WVU still committed its first hold on the first drive of the game. The incomplete pass (caused, ironically, by an uncalled pass interference violation by YSU) allowed the Penguins to take the result of the play. That worked out for them, as Grier’s third down bad decision resulted in his only pick of the season.
PENALTY: 1Q Schuler, Mark punt 56 yards to the WVU 1, downed, PENALTY WVU holding. WVU 1st and 10 on WVU 1.
RESULT: WVU 99-yard TD drive
Talk about being lucky. WVU’s hold resulted in about a two-inch mark-off, and the Mountaineers immediately mounted an impressive drive that covered the length of the field for a TD.
PENALTIES: 2Q Two false starts
RESULT: Grier to Gary Jennings TD pass
Two smaller infractions, but still a negative ten yards that had to be overcome. WVU shrugs them off to score
PENALTY: 3Q WVU Holding
RESULT: Grier to Jennings TD pass
Lather, rinse and repeat. West Virginia shrugs off another hold on the line and gets into the end zone again.
PENALTIES: 3Q Three WVU Holds on the same drive
RESULT: Leddie Brown TD Run
This sequence almost defies belief. Josh Sills, Trevon Wesco and Chase Behrndt rack up holds in the same series, including one that wiped out a beautiful Brown TD jaunt. That might be some sort of record. Again, give the offense credit with resilience, and perhaps some charmed karma, as the Mountaineers score another touchdown. Officially the drive covered 82 yards, but West Virginia actually gained 114 in the series, due to the fact that ground had to be covered and recovered multiple times.
On the defensive side, the results weren’t so good. Two pass interference penalties set Youngstown State up for its first touchdown, and another put the Penguins in position for a field goal. Eliminate those gaffes, and West Virginia has an even bigger blowout that the final 52-17 tally. Instead, the Mountaineers helped page a path in
The important item to take away from this, however, is that WVU can’t afford to live on the knife’s edge of killing penalties with its excellent offense. Having the ability to do so is great, but it puts more pressure on that side of the ball, and takes it away from the efficient approach being taught by offensive coordinator Jake Spavital.
“If they got called for a holding, we need to be cleaner with our technique. Some of it goes down to effort, moving your feet and hand placement,” Spavital explained. “The challenge to the offense after the game was about improving with our technique. We can’t afford to have eight penalties. Not just eight penalties, we had four ball security situations with the ball on the ground. We can’t afford that either. We also had four negative plays. We have to eliminate the negative plays, the penalties and the ball security issues. We have to eliminate the things that we can control. I always tell them that holding is going to happen, but we have to coach off it, and we have to correct it as an individual in terms of technique.
“That was the negative part of our unit meeting, the penalties. When you are playing a team that is in that bend, don’t break mentality, that’s tough to overcome at times,” he continued “I thought from an adversity standpoint, they did a really good job at overcoming those longer situations. I think on every single penalty that we had, we overcame it at some point. It’s a testament to them on understanding how they are playing you, being efficient, getting the ball in play and always moving forward. Those penalties are crushing us right now, and when we get into tight battles, those are not going to play in our favor.”