Awesome win for Texas. The players finally got to feel the exhilaration of a big victory as a reward for what has been a grind of a season. The post game locker room was a madhouse. I have to imagine that the recruits in attendance saw just what they wanted to see: a passionate team, a good crowd and enough faults in our play that maybe winning a starting job isn't that far fetched. A good day for the Strong rebuild.
Here's the quick react, with more to come later....
We haven't seen this in a while, have we?
The first half was impressive. Hats off to a dominant display by the OL and a coach who is wringing every bit of juice he can out of them. We got the running game going running power and Swoopes was 4 of 4 on his first drive, including a nice TD throw to Swaim on the goal line. Gray's explosive 10 carry, 101 yard 3 TD game was complemented nicely by Brown's more workmanlike effort (20-90). The interior OL and Swaim, De La Torre and McFarland were the real stars of the first half and launched Texas to a 24-3 halftime lead, repeatedly gashing the Mountaineer defense inside for huge gains.
After that, WVU loaded the box, moved their stunts inside so they wouldn't overrun our inside power, covered Texas WRs in single man and dared Swoopes and our WRs to beat them over the top. Or anywhere, really.
They didn't. And couldn't. It was hard to watch - as bad an offensive display in contrast to the 1st half as I've ever seen. Their extra men inside throttled the run, the blitz prevented us from running much complexity because of shaky pass protection and we had to get the ball out quickly. Generally, any competent offense still likes its chances operating 1 on 1 against coverages declared before the snap. Not us.
Swoopes was 7 of 25 for 70 yards and an interception after his initial hot start. I'm pretty much at a loss.
As bad a display of offense and QBing against declared coverages as I've ever seen. Perhaps Watson should have done more beyond hoping Swoopes could make a basic QBing play downfield and that our WRs would finally decisively beat a coverage, but the constraint of WVU's pressure made double moves and crossing routes a tough thing to execute. I don't know - at least let him fail in different ways.
Texas played them better than anyone else has all year. Two forced turnovers, a safety and a complete throttling of their passing game.
We were pretty simple - a lot of zone with matched man under. Diggs competed hard with White and it looked to me like we played Thompson at the nickel - which we really haven't done all year. Props to Strong and Bedford for that creative shifting - Thompson responded with multiple big hits.
Jordan Hicks was nails. His 3 solo tackles in a row with WVU inside our 10 was about as good as it gets.
We weren't going to allow anything over the top. We rarely blitzed and relied heavily on our front 4 to get it done. Clint Trickett averaged only 5 yards per attempt and they were incapable of getting anything going deep. Cedric Reed was absolutely dominant with 3 sacks, big 3rd down stops and a forced fumble, Brown was a force inside and our secondary repeatedly brought the wood against the WVU skill players.
WVU was an abysmal 3 of 17 on 3rd down and 3 of 5 on 4th. 6 of 22 on money downs is about as good as can be hoped against a high level offense.
They ended up popping a long run late (62 yards) but beyond that, I can't find fault with much this defense did. Forget the raw yardage - that's was a hell of a defensive effort by a group that had to carry us singlehandedly to the finish line.
Well. They played as badly as we did, so there is that.
Celebrate. This team scrapped hard. We showed plenty of our faults on offense an they're not going away any time soon, but we also showed real improvement in several areas against a team that no one had beaten as decisively as Texas did.