Morgantown, WV (October 19, 2014)
By Dave Ackermann – Senior Writer (Feature Photo by Dave Ackermann of BlueGoldSports.com)
The Saturday evening college football update telecasts and Sunday sports page headlines rang out that the unranked WVU Mountaineers had upset the AP Poll #4 ranked Baylor Bears by the score of 41-27. However, the more interesting news comes in the form of a question: Was this really an upset, or, are the Mountaineers really a very good football team playing a 2014 schedule on steroids?
The WVU defense sacks Baylor QB Bryce Petty (photo by Jessica Boggs of BlueGoldSports.com)
After watching the Mountaineer Defense limit the high-flying Baylor Bear offense to just 27 points, (10 of which were gifts off of turnovers by the WVU offense in the first half (a Clint Trickett fumble at the WVU 8 yard line led to 7 of those points, while an interception led to a field goal), it was very evident that WVU Defensive Coordinator Tony Gibson has built some defensive depth and a defensive front capable of putting pressure on the quarterback.
Baylor QB Bryce Petty watches the WVU defense smother his running back Shock Lynwood for a loss (photo by Jessica Boggs of BlueGoldSports.com)
The WVU defense also limited the vaunted Baylor running attack to a total of 95 rushing yards and most of that came in the waning minutes of the game. Baylor managed only 24 yards rushing in the first half of action and had accumulated only a total of 44 yards rushing by the end of the 3rd quarter. In fact, the WVU defense limited the high-powered Baylor Offense to just 7 points in the second half and only 10 points in the first half (when you remove the ten gift points off of turnovers).
Another telling fact was that the WVU defense limited Baylor to a measly 3 of 16 on third down conversions and 0-2 on fourth down conversions; that is awfully stingy, if you ask me! The Mountaineer 3-3-5 stack defense also forced Baylor to punt a total of 9 times in the game. In the end, the Baylor offense was held to a meager 318 total yards as Bryce Petty could manage only 223 yards passing to go along with the 95 yards rushing. Speaking to the improved depth, the defense accomplished these stats after losing both of their starting cornerbacks (Daryl Worley and Terrell Chestnut) to injuries early in the first half. All in all, the Mountaineer defense made a total of 57 solo tackles and only 8 tackles were of the assisted variety.
#37 r-SR LB Wes Tonkery #35 r-JR LB Nick Kwiatkoski #5 JR CB Ricky Rumph (roster photos courtesy of WVUsports.com)
As usual, the WVU defense was led by linebackers Nick Kwiatkoski and Wes Tonkery. Tonkery led the defense with 8 tackles (6 solo) including a tackle for loss and also had a pass break-up while Kwiatkoski made 7 tackles (4 solo) and also had a tackle for loss. But the real damage to the Bryce Petty led Baylor Offense came from some other sources. Junior cornerback Ricky Rumph had an outstanding game with 6 tackles (all solo) that limited many big play opportunities.
#2 SR LB Brandon Golson #4 r-SR DL Shaq Riddick #9 SR S K J Dillon (roster photos courtesy of WVUsports.com)
The WVU defense had a total of 10 tackles for loss and that included 4 sacks. Shaq Riddick (5 tackles) and Brandon Golson (5 tackles) were responsible for all 4 sacks and 6 of the tackles for loss. Riddick had his best day as a Mountaineer sacking Petty three (3) times and getting another 2 yard tackle for loss on Baylor Running Back Shock Lynwood. Golson, who was all over the field from his LB spot, got the other sack of Petty and two (2) additional tackles for loss. Senior K J Dillon also had a fine afternoon in the secondary and had two huge pass break-ups in coverage to also limit big plays.
#9 QB Clint Trickett eyes WR Kevin White downfield while #57 Adam Pankey provides excellent protection (photo by Jessica Boggs of BlueGoldSports.com)
Turning to the offensive side of the ball, the Mountaineers got their usual fine performances from quarterback Clint Trickett as well as wide-outs Kevin White and Mario Alford. Trickett, after getting over a rough start that saw him sacked and fumble on his own 8 yard line during the Mountaineer’s first possession, would put that away and go on to have an excellent afternoon. Clint passed for 322 yards and 3 touchdowns and had 23 completions on 35 attempts and only one interception. That was 8 straight games (going back to his final game last season) of throwing for 300 or more yards passing and is a new Mountaineer record.
#11 SR WR Kevin White looks to the official for one of several interference calls he would draw on the day (Photo by Jessica Boggs of BlueGoldSports.com)
Kevin White would make 8 receptions for 132 yards and 2 touchdowns on the day and that put Kevin over the 1,000 yards receiving milestone, joining only 4 other WVU receivers in achieving that many receiving yards in a season. However, White also drew several interference calls because the Baylor secondary simply could not cover the speedy and strong 6’3 and 210 pound receiver. It was also White’s 7th straight game of 100 yards or more in receiving and Kevin leads the nation in that category. If there was any doubt at the start of the season about White’s ability to play on Sundays next year, those doubts have long been put to rest at this point.
#5 SR WR “Super Mario” Alford completes a 39 yard pass and run for a TD to the delight of the Mountaineer Mascot (photo by Jessica Boggs of BlueGoldSports.com)
Mario Alford, who was quiet in the receiving category for most of the game (ended the game with 4 catches for 53 yards), but he sealed the victory in the fourth quarter with a speedy 39 yard pass, catch and run for a touchdown to make the score WVU 41 Baylor 27.
All in all, the Mountaineer offense put up 456 yards on the day, including 134 rushing yards to go along with the 322 yards passing. Depth again paid off for the Mountaineers as starting running back Rushel Shell (3 carries for 13 yards) was lost to a foot injury early in the game. That meant Wendell Smallwood, Andrew Buie and Dreamius Smith all had to step-up and they all answered the call. Smallwood would collect 66 yards rushing on 20 carries for a 3.3 yards per carry average. Smith would carry the leather 13 times for 60 yards including a 13 yard touchdown. Buie would net 24 yards on 9 carries including a touchdown.
Josh Lambert was more than efficient on the day, hitting two field goals (54 and 24) in the middle quarters and converting all of his extra point tries (5) for an eleven point scoring day.
The unsung heroes of the game, however, had to be the offensive line. While they only gave up 3 sacks, they protected Trickett in passing situations 32 times successfully. They also were dominating the line of scrimmage in the run game as the Mountaineers managed 169 yards rushing before sack and loss yardage is applied for the net of 134. Depth again proved solid when Tony Matteo had to replace the always solid center Tyler Orlosky for several snaps during the game due to minor injuries. Quinton Spain and Mark Glowinski handled Guard duty very aggressively while tackles Adam Pankey and Marquis Lucas handled the outside pass rush with very solid play.
The Mountaineers now stand at 5-2 and 3-1 in the Big 12 conference and find themselves smack in the middle of the conference championship race as Oklahoma suffered a second loss to K-State 31-30 on Saturday afternoon. But as all head coaches like to point out, “don’t look to far ahead. as the next game is the most important one on the schedule”!
So was this an upset?
In this writer’s humble opinion, yes! Having played (soon to be ranked in the Top 5 again) Alabama, and (at the time, top 5 ranked) Oklahoma and having opportunities that, if realized, could have led to victories in both of those contests, the Mountaineers have proven that they are a very good team playing a schedule that is definitely on steroids. Yes, they have those two losses to two other very good teams, but they have proven so far that they can play with anybody and should be ranked after this latest victory.
All Game statistics courtesy of WVU Sports Information Department.