Thursday, October 27, 2016

Bye Week Comes at Perfect Time for Mountaineers

I have heard a lot of fans grumbling this week about how West Virginia has already had a bye week and there is no need for another one this soon.

In most years, I would tend to agree with them, but in this case, I am disagreeing loudly.

This weekend, the Mountaineers second bye week of the year, fans can sit home and watch games from all over the country knowing that the 22nd ranked team in the nation will not lose and will possibly have a chance to move up in the polls for doing nothing.

As for the team benefits, they are aplenty.

WVU will be able to get their defensive secondary healthy. Antonio Crawford, Toyous Avery and Maurice Fleming have all recently been banged up and that is on top of Dravon Askew-Henry’s season ending injury before the first snap was made.

Avery was injured prior to the BYU game and missed that whole contest. Crawford injured his arm in the first half against the Cougars and has worn a sling the last couple of weeks. Finally, Fleming, an Iowa graduate transfer, hurt himself during a long completion in the first half against Kansas State. All three players have proved to be very important pieces to the WVU defense and getting them as close to 100 percent as possible is a necessity considering the offenses that West Virginia will be facing the rest of the way.

On the offensive side, Skyler Howard gets an extra week since his rib injury suffered against Missouri five weeks ago. Even though he has played well and showed no ill effects (1,272 yards, 7 TD’s) from the hit, a little extra rest will not hurt.

The week off will also allow Justin Crawford to get even more comfortable within the offense. Crawford, a budding star at the running back position, has rushed 60 times for 331 yards (tops on the team) and two touchdowns, and has still not even come close to producing at the level in which he can.

Maybe even bigger than the rest the players will receive is the taming of emotions.

After the dramatic, come from behind win against Bill Snyder’s Kansas State Wildcats, the Mountaineers would have been a prime candidate for a letdown this week. Letdowns happen in college football. How many times have we seen a team win a huge game against a quality opponent only to come out the next week flatter than a flitter and flirt with a loss against a team that they should not lose to?

Coach Dana Holgorsen has the same feelings.

“The mental health aspect of it probably is every bit as important as the physical aspect of it”, Holgorsen said Tuesday at his weekly press conference.

In 2012, after WVU beat Texas 49-38 in Austin and moved into the top 5, a trip to Texas Tech awaited the very next week. The Mountaineers came out flat, were totally dominated in all three phases of the game and left Lubbock a 42-14 loser and were never the same since.

Now this year, a trip to Texas Tech waits again, but not until next week. By that time, WVU will have already enjoyed and gotten over their win over KSU, and hopefully will be fully focused on the Red Raiders and moving to 5-0 on the young season.

So hold your horses, grumbling fans. Sometimes bye weeks can be a very good thing.




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