PHOENIX – The 2016 Motel 6 Cactus Bowl Offensive MVP took to Instagram following West Virginia’s hard fought 43-42 victory over Arizona State to thank his biggest motivators, especially the non-believers.
While completing 28 of 51 passes for 532 yards, Howard broke the Cactus Bowl record for most passing yards (previously held by Drew Bledsoe) while tossing five touchdowns and two interceptions.
“We knew it was gonna be high risk, high reward,” said Howard during his post-game press conference alongside Coach Holgorsen and Defensive MVP Shaq Petteway. “We knew if we could hold-up up front, we would have some shots downfield. I was just giving those guys (receivers) a shot and they came down with it.”
The 2015 season was full of ups and downs for the junior quarterback. Through the first three games of the season (the non-conference slate), things looked promising. Howard threw for a combined 916 yards and nine touchdowns. As conference play began, Howard and the the WVU offense began to struggle. The Mountaineers lost four straight Big 12 games in the month of October, putting both Holgorsen and his starting QB (Howard) on the hot seat with fans.
In the month of November, West Virginia won four straight games, losing only one to Kansas State to round out the regular season. The Mountaineers headed to Arizona with high hopes and positive vibes.
“Skyler didn’t need this, he earned this,” said Holgorsen. “You talk about a humble kid that’s taken some criticism. It’s not fair. The kid battles, it’s what it means to be a Mountaineer. To go out there and play his tail off and work hard and go back to work and earn the respect of your teammates and continue to fight and continue to work; that’s what he’s done. Things are coming together because he’s getting better and people around him are getting better.”
Howard finished the 2015-2016 season off throwing for a total 3,145 yards while completing 221 of 403 passes. He threw 26 touchdowns and 14 interceptions.
“It’s about time it fell together,” said Howard. “Our goal was to get better each week on offense and just keep improving each week. It finally started clicking and I think we had a complete game (against Arizona St.) on offense.”
Howard will return to the Mountaineers next year for his senior season.
Cover image via bleacherreport.com