— It’s time to pull out my red marker to grade the Mountaineers on their 16-7 road loss Saturday night to No. 16 Oklahoma. This week’s report card includes the offense, defense and special teams — and another critical area, coaching.
Only a couple things kept WVU from a failing grade this week. The first was the 75-yard touchdown run from Dreamius Smith that resulted in the only Mountaineer touchdown. The other was the play of Kevin White, who is starting to emerge as a playmaker at wide receiver. WVU, at times, ran plays to get receivers open, and there were some opportunities to really exploit the OU secondary.
Other than that, the Mountaineer offense was a complete failure. Quarterback Paul Millard continually missed open receivers — at least two passes could have resulted in touchdowns to wide open receivers had he not missed his mark — and when he did hit them, it was often enough off line that the receiver had to come back to the ball or go down to his knees to make the catch, ruining any opportunity for yards after the catch. That’s not even mentioning an interception and a fumble from the junior signal caller.
Millard wasn’t alone, though. Ivan McCartney let a sure touchdown pass fall directly between his hands, a play that could have changed the game. Even White had a crucial fumble that likely took points off the board for the Mountaineers after a catch-and-run deep into OU territory.
Oklahoma’s defense was good, but not that good. WVU’s offense was greatly responsible for its own woes.
I can’t give a defense that allowed 316 rushing yards an A, but the overall performance was certainly impressive, especially for a unit that was one of the worst in the country a year ago.
Keith Patterson’s defense forced four turnovers and held what was supposed to be an explosive Sooner offense to 16 points. The Mountaineers forced five punts and held OU to field goals on a couple of occasions when the Sooners were in position for touchdowns.
The WVU defense easily could have held OU to even fewer points. The Sooners’ first field goal came on a drive where they were stopped three-and-out but were allowed to continue after a roughing the punter penalty.
OU’s first touchdown came when the Mountaineers’ Mario Alford fumbled a punt return, giving the Sooners the ball at the WVU 32-yard line.
That’s 10 of OU’s 16 points that can — at least in part — be pinned on the WVU special teams. And the big rushing total was aided by the fact that the Mountaineer defense was on the field for 78 Oklahoma plays and more than 34 minutes. Eventually, it was going to wear down.