Mountaineers make too many mistakes, lose to Sooners 24 – 44
The WVU football 3 game winning streak was shut down on Saturday after the Mountaineers took a hard loss from Oklahoma University. What exactly led to the loss? The Mountaineers made too many mistakes on offense throughout most of the game – including five turnovers all from fumbles and interceptions by WVU QB Skyler Howard who, until the game against the Terrapins, had completed over 170 passes without an interception. Howard and the Mountaineers had a hard time with passing – Howard only completing 17 of his 32 passes throughout the game.
West Virginia was able to briefly tie the game during the second quarter after a series of plays for 86 yards. Since the passing game was obviously not effective against the impassable Sooner defense, WVU relied on running the ball as well as penalties by Oklahoma. Rushel Shell contributed 26 yards to the 86 yard push and ultimately carried the ball for 5 yards into the Oklahoma end-zone for a touchdown. Unfortunately the tied game was short lived, with the Sooners able to get back in the lead immediately after the Shell touchdown.
Howard gave WVU fans another gleam of hope late in the third quarter after a 50-yard run for a touchdown, bringing the score to 27 -24, with the Mountaineers only down by 3. Howard’s zone-read fake couldn’t have been executed more perfectly – but it wasn’t enough to win the game for the Mountaineers. The Sooners were able to dominate the last quarter of the game, ending the West Virginia winning streak by a score of 44 – 24
Who Stood Out
Shell and Wendell Smallwood were able to generate success from the running game against Oklahoma when the passing game was failing. Shell’s 26 yard contribution to the 86 yard push during the second quarter and the 5 yard touchdown gave West Virginia hope of a comeback now that the score was tied. Smallwood was able to surpass 100 rushing yards in his 22 attempts against Oklahoma University, averaging about 5 yards a play. He was also able to contribute something to the little bit of passing game the Mountaineers could generate – totaling only 8 yards in 3 plays.
Karl Joseph was a force to be reckoned with on the WVU defense. Joseph’s massive hit during the first quarter on The Sooner’s Westbrook was described on ESPN as a “heat seeking missile” and as one of the “hardest hitters in the Nation.” Joseph became the nation leader in interceptions with his 5th of the season after he was able to easily pick a pass thrown by the Sooner QB out of the air.
At one point, Jovon Durante was able to make a nice catch after having to jump to reach a ball from Howard in the end-zone early in the second half. After the ball was stripped from he Sooner defense, WVU gained possession again in the third quarter and Howard and Durante paired up again for a 34-yard pass that landed the WVU offense just 5 yards away from another TD. Unfortunately, Durante was unable to keep his feet under him and the Mountaineers settled for a 23-yard field goal from Josh Lambert.
Preparing for the Cowboys
So the question is, what do the Mountaineers need to do to prevent another shattering loss from happening against the Cowboys in WVUs Homecoming game this Saturday? After the game, some Mountaineer players and assistant coaches discussed what went wrong and what needs worked on. Karl Joseph had maybe the most important comment about the loss to the Sooners, saying that the season isn’t over and the team needs to “move on.” The downfall with the Mountaineers will come if the players begin getting inside their own heads. Shell commented that when Oklahoma made a play, WVU made the mistake of putting their heads down. Shell said “Oklahoma is a good team, they’re going to make plays.
It was made apparent through the many mistakes on offense that West Virginia’s biggest opponent is West Virginia. If the team can recover and strive to improve for the next game, rather than beating themselves up over a loss to a good college football team – they can recover next week against the Cowboys.