WVU’s Sills Will Play In Bowl Game; Discusses Crucial Penalties
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia wide receiver David Sills won’t be one of the stellar seniors missing his final bowl game.
“Yes, absolutely 100%,” was his answer to a question about playing in whatever postseason venue awaits the Mountaineers.
“I’m 100% dedicated to this program. We have put too much time and effort together. I will 100% be playing in the bowl game.”
Quarterback Will Grier, asked a similar question, said he hadn’t thought about it yet, but Sills was just as definitive when queried as to whether or not he thought that he had played his final game with the front end of one of the most prolific passing game duos in Mountaineer history.
“No, I don’t.”
Sills was a bit more philosophical about a pair of penalty calls against the Mountaineers, noting multiple times that officials’ decisions are “something we can’t control.” Still, it was clear that he wasn’t enamored with either.
The first was a pass interference call against him that wiped out a touchdown pass to teammate Gary Jennings. On third down and four from the Oklahoma eight-yard line, he was flagged for what was deemed a pick.
“I ran the route pretty much how I was coached to run it. I think he kind of bumped into me, but that’s something the refs called so it’s out of my hands. We were just running routes. He bumped into me trying to guard Gary.”
WVU offensive coordinator Jake Spavital agreed, noting that the routes called on the play were not rubs or designed to screen one defender away from a receiver. The compressed space on the field obviously puts receivers in closer proximity to each other, but both Spavital and Sills were adamant that the play was not set up as a pick.
The call was a big one, as West Virginia failed to convert on the ensuing replay of third down and the following fourth down, creating a rare possession empty of points.
The second had an even bigger impact.
Trailing 52-49 in the fourth quarter, running back Kennedy McKoy broke off a huge run,getting all the way down to the OU three-yard line. However, wide receiver TJ Simmons was flagged for blocking an Oklahoma defender out of bounds, which brought the ball all the way back to the Mountaineer 43. Three plays later, Grier suffered his second fumble of the game, which the Sooners returned for a touchdown.
“I wasn’t aware of it,” Sills said of the rule. “I think that’s a receiver being very physical and overpowering his man and blocking to the bench. I think it definitely shifted the game. It’s a bad call. I’ve seen TJ do that multiple times and not get called. I don’t agree with it.”
Rule 9 Article 7 c states: “It is illegal for any player to be clearly out of bounds when he initiates a block against an opponent who is out of bounds. The spot of the foul is where the blocker crosses the sideline in going out of bounds.”
Simmons initiated the block and engaged the Oklahoma defender well in bounds, and while he did continue the block out of bounds, there is nothing in the rule that states such continued action is illegal, or that a player must cease blocking once his opponent is out of bounds.