There is no question West Virginia quarterback Skyler Howard has struggled in his last two outings. And while many are down on the Mountaineers starting quarterback there is simply more than meets the eye when it comes to his performances as of late.
Dana has alluded to the fact that his protection in the pocket has been suspect. Is that entirely on the offensive line? Possibly? But some of the blame does fall on Howard’s seeming inability have a pocket presence. However, Oklahoma State had one of the best pass rushes in the nation averaging 4.17 sacks per game, may want to give credit where credit is due there.
Likewise Oklahoma averages 3 sacks per game which is good enough for 16th in the nation. The point of the matter is Howard’s inability to be consistent in the pass game can not entirely be blamed on him nor the offensive line. The last two games the Mountaineers have seen a pass rush that they may not see the rest of the season.
That brings us to Baylor. The Bears currently have a pass defense ranked 81st in the nation allowing 234.6 passing yards per game. They also have a scoring defense rank of 51 allowing 22.2 points per game.
For comparison Oklahoma’s pass defense is ranked 20th in the nation while Oklahoma State has a ranking of 26. You see where I am going with this?
Baylor has already shown a tendency to allow massive amounts of passing yards, Texas Tech put up 530 yards on the Bears this season averaging 8.2 yards per completion. While that is by far their worst game against the pass the Bears will allow balanced offenses to stay on the field.
While establishing a run game is key to an offenses success that may simply be an added bonus in this game. Baylor’s run defense is allowing 129 yards per game. With Wendell Smallwood averaging 6.6 yards per carry Howard may have that advantage he needs to keep the defense off balance allowing him more time in the pocket. (Baylor gave up 173 rushing yards to Lamar and 206 to SMU this season)
In closing Howard has the ability to quiet the critics this weekend against one of the best teams in the nation. Calls for Crest and the burning of Chugunoz’s redshirt should wait at least one more game. The Mountaineers should be able to improve upon their 25 point per game Big 12 average this weekend in Waco.
If there is yet another subpar performance after this weekend the calls for Dana to makes changes will undoubtedly become louder and possibly rightfully so. But for at least one more game Howard deserves that chance to redeem himself. And with no talk of a quarterback controversy coming from Morgantown the Mountaineers coaching staff seemingly agrees.