Ya know, I am starting to think West Virginia defensive coordinator Tony Gibson might of read our game preview. The Mountaineers came out dead-set on stopping the pass. They were ready for Peyton Bender to sling it. Well, Bender played a decent game, but was kept largely in check by turning in a sub-200 yard passing performance for the first time in 2017.
But my, oh my, the Jayhawk running game absolutely gashed West Virginia’s defense. Kansas running back Khalil Herbert carried the ball 36 times for 291 yards and a coupe touchdowns.
In the end though, West Virginia won the game by a few scores and covered the 21.5-point spread, 56-34. However, the game never felt like a blowout.
KU steadily moved the ball down the field on the game’s opening drive, gaining 64 yards and three points off a Gabriel Rui field goal. The Mountaineer defense came out slow but were able to keep the Jayhawks out of the end zone. West Virginia would then rip off 28 unanswered points behind the arm of Will Grier and the legs of Justin Crawford and Kennedy McKoy. Khalil Herbert answered with a 67-yard touchdown run to notch the first Jayhawk touchdown. Before the half West Virginia cornerback would take an interception to the house, putting the Mountaineers up 35-10. Kansas, with about thirty seconds left in the half, was able to get into field goal range and drill a 49-yarder to take it to the half at 35-13.
Kansas absolutely owned the third quarter. The Mountaineers were held scoreless while Khalil Herbert kept running all over the 3-3-5 defense. But West Virginia weathered the storm. In the fourth quarter Grier found his favorite target, David Sills V in the end zone, and ran for his first two rushing touchdowns as a Mountaineer. The Mountaineer defense toughened up late in the game, and freshman bowling ball Lamonte McDougle forced a Peyton Bender fumble that drove the final nail in the coffin. West Virginia had the ball inside the Kansas 10 at the end of the game, and were unable to cover the spread with a more impressive final score of 63-34.
I’m not sure if West Virginia ever felt they may actually lose the game, but there were certainly stretches where the offense was stalling and the defense could not make stops. Spavital and company were far from pleased with their performance, but West Virginia’s stars still did what they do. Grier went 25 of 39 for 347 yards, two touchdowns, and a pick. Justin Crawford carried the rock 18 times for 125 yards and six points of his own. Kennedy McKoy struck pay-dirt twice, carrying the ball twelve times for 105 yards. Defensively, West Virginia was without David Long and Toyous Avery – a linebacker and safety who generally start. Additionally, Kyzir White, Mike Robinson, and Brendan Ferns all left the game with injuries. All things considered, at least the defense limped victoriously into the bye week.
I led this piece singing Khalil Herbert’s praise and I now continue the chorus. The kid was impossible to bring down and waltzed through every hole his line opened up. Bender was okay in this one, but two picks and a fumble do not an upset make. Virtually all of Kansas’ big plays came from their running game. West Virginia’s defense had a bad day, but the Kansas defense struggled even more, giving up 635 yards of total offense and nearly 60 points.
|3rd Down Eff||7-14||8-18|
|4th Down Eff||0-1||2-2|
|Yards Per Pass||8.9||5.8|
|Yards Per Rush||6.7||7.3|
|WVU – W. Grier||25/39||347||8.9||2||1||88.3|
|KU – P. Bender||17/32||197||6.2||1||2||27.2|
|WVU – J. Crawford||18||125||6.9||1||24|
|KU – K. Herbert||36||291||8.1||2||67|
|WVU – D. Sills V||8||130||16.3||2||49|
|KU – S. Sims Jr.||6||96||16.0||1||64|
Emptying the Notebook
Still have no idea where this WVU team is going to finish. I think their ceiling is high. This could be a 10-2 team. I also, however, think their floor is low. This could be a 7-5 team. It would not surprise me to see them lose to Tech, both Oklahoma schools, TCU, and Kansas State. I don’t think that will happen, but we’re still nowhere near figuring out this Mountaineer squad.
Kansas is improved. I know, participation trophies suck, and this isn’t me giving you one. But athletically, they did not look like a MAC school playing a Big 12 school. Kansas will undoubtedly beat someone, and they may strike a couple of times.
How about those Memorial Stadium renovations? Looking sharp! If you build it… recruits will come. Hopefully.
The injury bug has bitten West Virginia. They really, really need to get healthy during this bye week. All the sudden, their date with the Horned Frogs is looming large.
A couple positive note for WVU’s defense: young guys (Lamonte McDougle, Derrek Pitts Jr., etc.) have played a ton of snaps the last three weeks. (Man – it’s been a rough three weeks for Mountaineer fans. Historically boring.) Also, three takeaways and 6 defensive points.
This is going to sound like a dig at KU and I don’t want it to. But it is really hard for opponents to play that early time-slot in front of less than 25,000 people against a team the whole country expects them to beat. KU can have a great home-field advantage, and I think they will as the program improves. But right now, they have their own unique home-field advantage.
Justin Crawford is a machine. Plain and simple.