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After dumping out the overused cliché bucket in search of what to apply to describe the 45-6 West Virginia victory from Milan Puskar it is tempting to utilize “The Tale of Two Halves” gig in an unconventional way. If you looked at the game in reverse one would find that the Maryland Terrapins virtually matched the Mountaineers point for point in the second half (failed two-point conversion meant 6 points to the Mountaineers’ 7 points), and held them to 89 yards of total offense in the third quarter. However, it did not really matter what happened in the second half as West Virginia had pretty much won this game by the time the end of the first quarter musket shot was fired.

Game Stats


West Virginia

1st Downs  14 37
3rd Down Eff 4-14 9-16
4th Down Eff 0-2 1-1
Total Yards 326 601
Passing Yds 153 297
Comp-Att 14-36 23-37
Yds Per Pass 3.9 7.4
Rushing Yds 173 304
Rush Att 29 59
Yds Per Rush 6.0 5.2
Penalties 10-100 10-124
Turnovers 6 2
Fumbles lost 1 1
Picks Thrown 5 1
Final Score 6 45
1st Qtr 0 21
2nd Qtr 0 17
3rd Qtr 0 0
4th Qtr 6 7


Key Point in the Game

The tone was set early in this game. Following both of West Virginia’s touchdown ensuing kickoffs, the Terrapins allowed themselves to be pinned way back to start drives. One due to insecure ball handling, the other a block in the back penalty. Both of these two Terrapin drives resulted in 3 and outs, which set the Mountaineer offense up with short fields. What started out at a 7-0 game quickly turned into 14-0 and shortly thereafter 21-0. For the doubters out there that the game was already in favor of the Blue and Gold because of the aforementioned, the final pin to this hand grenade of an offensive explosion was pulled when Skyler Howard found Shelton Gibson for a 41-yard TD strike with a little over 10 and a half minutes to go before half.

Positives for West Virginia

The Run Game – The one-two punch of Wendell Smallwood and Rushel Shell showed potential to be mentioned with the likes of those found at Baylor and Oklahoma. The two combined for 224 yards and two touchdowns together. Smallwood had the hot hand racking up 85 yards in the first quarter alone, but the hard-nosed, second effort Shell showed all game proved these two provide an excellent complement to one another’s style.

The Secondary – Hands down, no bones about it West Virginia probably has the most complete defensive Secondary in the league. The coverage skills this unit showed on the day recording five Interceptions certainly helps maintain an All-American campaign for SS Carl Joseph. It was apparent that the coverage downfield began to return favors for the pass rush, as they were often in the face of the Terps Jr. QB Caleb Rowe all game. The open field tackling of KJ Dillon combined with the performances of Daryl Worley and Terrell Chestnut only complicated the day at the office for Rowe.

Skyler Howard – Junior QB Skyler Howard finishes up the game sitting at 622 yards on the young season with a 5:0 TD to INT ratio at 72.5% completion. The offensive line appeared to have no issues allowing that Holgorsen offense to flow through Howard with ample time on Saturday, whether or not that can hold up to Big 12 defensive lines remains to be seen.

Negatives for West Virginia

The Handouts – Maryland had just as well changed their nickname from the Terps to the Derps on Saturday. As impressive as West Virginia looked on Saturday, it is worth noting that Maryland found about every way possible to shoot themselves in the foot. Maryland compiled 10 penalties for 100 yards (also worth noting that the Mountaineers allowed themselves to be penalized 10 times for 124 yards too). No doubt the Mountaineers deserve credit for the five interceptions on the day, but to epitomize Maryland’s day on the field, a 55 yard run by Sr RB Brandon Ross ended as a fumble one yard short of the end zone to which the ball eventually squirted out of the back of the end zone turning a nice run into a touchback for the home team.

Cloudy Perception – The Mountaineers have experienced great success through the non-conference schedule, but what can you make of the conference schedule? The Mountaineers have averaged nearly 44 points per game versus a Sun Belt team, a FCS team and what looks to be a swan song campaign for a Coach Randy Edsall Big 10 team. The Mountaineers are good no doubt, but there is no way of knowing what will exactly translate into conference play. A week from now it should be pretty clear.

Adjusting to 2nd Half Adjustments – When the highlight of the 3rd quarter is a 13 yard run 4th down conversion by Punter Nick O’Toole, it may be a sign that the defensive coaching staff had found a way to tame the Mountaineer starters. While that ultimately did not make a difference, it may be worth consulting the 2014 TCU Horned Frogs to find out how big leads hold up in the second halves of Big 12 conference play.

West Virginia Player of the Game

Shelton Gibson – It is hard to settle on just one. With the Mountaineer offense as balanced as it was 297 yards through the air and 304 yards rushing, many players had their hands in the offensive onslaught. While it is tempting to give it to a unit like the defensive secondary, it is hard to ignore what Sophomore WR Shelton Gibson did with his six catches for 118 yards and two Touchdowns including one from 41 yards out. With that, Gibson gets the nod.

What the Win Means for West Virginia

This win means that no matter how good West Virginia is or is not the team will take a Coal Miner’s load of confidence on the road with them to Norman next weekend. The most sought out commodity for a successful season in college football is confidence. Confidence typically turns into great momentum. The Mountaineer’s may have just bought into the market at the right time.

Emptying The Notebook

This was fun.

I hope she’s okay!

Also, this was pretty cool.


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