A rainy day had little to no silver lining on the football field Saturday as the West Virginia Mountaineers (5-3, 3-2) dropped out of the rankings once again due to its 50-39 loss to Oklahoma State (7-1, 4-1).
The loss not only looked bad, but came at a bad time with an extremely tough schedule coming up for WVU.
But before the Mountaineers can look ahead, let’s look back at Saturday one last time.
Offense – D-
Play calling was bad. The running game was non-existent. Receivers weren’t turning around and locating the football. Will Grier threw four interceptions as part of a five-turnover day for WVU.
Yeah, not much went right.
Head coach Dana Holgorsen was noticeably and understandably upset with his offense post-game. He said he was somewhat exaggerating when he said the unit had, “12 three and outs.” In reality, WVU did that five times. However, it did have ten possessions that lasted three plays or fewer.
Outside of 68-yard touchdown pass to Marcus Simms, West Virginia couldn’t hit on any big plays.
The offensive line continues to underperform.
If looking for a positive here’s one: WVU became the first team this year to throw for multiple touchdowns against the Oklahoma State defense.
Defense – D+
Thank goodness David Long was on the field or OK-State may have hit 70.
Long, playing in just his fourth game this year, made 18 tackles, seven of which were for a loss – a school record.
West Virginia gave up over 200 rushing yards for the third time this season, 142 of which was given up to JD King, who entered the game averaging just 43.3 yards per contest. Mason Rudolph was held under 300 passing yards for the second straight game. Some of that can be credited to WVU’s defense, but a lot of that can be credited to the rain and the Cowboys’ success on the ground.
Not getting a single stop on fourth down is concerning, as is only getting one sack.
Long himself keeps the defense grade from being any lower, and he deserves a big round of applause.
Special teams – A-
The debacle by the special teams unit at TCU must’ve been the wake-up call that group needed. Since then, this group has been playing well.
Saturday extends the streak to three straight games that WVU’s special teams outplayed its opponent’s. Evan Staley and Billy Kinney played well while Mike Molina nursed a hip injury suffered in Friday’s practice. Marcus Simms still seems to be finding his footing in the return game, though is making strides.
Meanwhile, the Mountaineer gunners and tacklers did a fairly good job of keeping Oklahoma State’s returners contained, and not giving up any big plays to a return unit that has not fared well this season.
And you can’t forget the blocked punt in the end zone, which helped change momentum for the time being in the third quarter. That was a big-time play.
Linemen – D+
The offensive line wasn’t nearly physical enough. Holgorsen said it himself after the game.
Grier was under constant pressure, which has been a theme over the last few games, and they didn’t hold blocks well for the running game.
Offensive line play was bad.
On the defensive side, the output was disappointing considering that OSU’s O-Line was banged up entering the game. Even with a few starters returning for the Cowboys, the line wasn’t 100-percent and should’ve been susceptible to more pressure.
With that said, it’s naïve to think Long and the linebacker crew doesn’t get into the backfield without a little help from the D-Line. But, a little help was all they got.
Overall – C-
Holgorsen’s comments were, “It’s about to get real uncomfortable around here.”
It’s unclear exactly what that means, but what is clear is that there’s a lot to work on this week in practice.
With only five full days separating now and another Top 15 team coming to Morgantown in Iowa State next weekend, there’s no time to waste.