By Dave Ackermann (The Orchestrator)
Last week, I talked about WVU needing a “Leave No Doubt” performance in a big game, hosting the Oklahoma Sooners (9-2), with a conference championship on the line. Unfortunately, the Mountaineers left the wrong “doubt” after that fiasco. I was very disappointed in the attitude and antics of some WVU fans and some Mountaineer and Sooner players. It was embarrassing! Regardless of OU head Coach Mark Stoop’s comments, his team did dance and stomp on the WVU logo, as evidenced by streaming video on the social media sites. Holgorsen’s charges did not accomplish any of the 5 steps laid out as necessary for a victory last week….enough said!
I will take this opportunity to congratulate RB Justin Crawford on a great performance (only marred early by a fumble at the Oklahoma 4 yard line). 331 yards rushing against the Sooners is excellence and proof hard work pays off. The only other positive was the fact that the Mountaineers team never really gave up and tried to make a game of it in the second half.
Now to this week’s scheduled action: This WVU road trip to Ames, Iowa to play the Cyclones was always going to be a “trap game” even before last Saturday’s thrashing at the hands of the Sooners. With last week’s result, it now becomes a massive WVU trap game, in my humble opinion.
It will be interesting to see the “psyche” of the Mountaineer team (8-2), after last week’s loss, facing an improving Cyclone team who thrashed Texas Tech last week 66-10. In fact, this Cyclone team has been in many games this year against good conference foes: ISU lost a tough battle at OSU on Oct 8th this season by a score of 31-38; hosted K-State for Homecoming losing 26-31; and lost by only ten points to the Sooners (24-34).
The Cyclones (3-8) are on a two game winning streak having defeated KU 31-24, before the big win over Texas Tech (4-7) last week. In that game ISU totally dominated on both sides of the ball rolling up 600 plus yards of offense. The Cyclones led 45-3 at the half. QB Joel Lanning rushed for 5 TD’s while his passing counterpart QB Jacob Parker handled the air attack completing 14-18 passes for 2 TD’s and also picked up a rushing TD.
WR Allan Lazard landed 7 receptions for for 137 yards and TD while defensively, Kamari Cotton-Moya had a 48 yard pick six interception return as well as a fumble recovery. All told the ISU defense held TTU to 306 yards of total offense and only ten points when the Red Raiders have averaged 46 plus points and 580 plus yards per game.
WVU must improve on special teams and passing offense. Last week saw two special teams errors result in Sooner touchdowns. Turnovers (4 in all) led to 27 Oklahoma points, almost the difference in the game score 28-56. The same was true to the tune of 3 turnovers and 17 points to Oklahoma State in that loss (20-37). QB Skylar Howard went 12-27-1 passing against OU for two scores but only a 44% completion rate and the 1 interception was a 58 yard pick six. I am sure the weather was partly responsible with near blizzard conditions early, but this must be improved this week. Howard usually averages about 300 yards with a 63% pass completion percentage.
The Mountaineers will rely heavily on their rushing attack which accumulated 388 yards in the loss to the Sooners. Howard was responsible for some of that yardage and a couple of rushing TD’s. WVU also hopes to get Senior RB and team leader Rushel Shell back in the line-up from injuries that have caused him to miss the last two contests. The Mountaineers lost true freshman RB Kennedy McCoy to an apparent shoulder injury early in the Oklahoma game.
So, in conclusion, the Mountaineers can expect to be thoroughly tested by this Cyclone team on Saturday afternoon. There can be no WVU sulking about last week’s defeat and starting out flat could lead to disaster early once again. For ISU, they should be very alert at all times because the Mountaineer team just might be in a very physical mood.
There will be no excuses with the weather as the forecast calls for sunny and mid 50 temperatures; perfect fall football conditions. The game will be televised on Fox Sports 1 at 3:30 EST (2:30 CST)