Two More Steps Back

Coming off a difficult loss to Baylor a few weeks ago, the West Virginia football team was in desperate need of a good performance against Texas Tech to bounce back and pick up some much-needed confidence.

And for two-and-a-half quarters, the Mountaineers were able to do that.

After a rocky start found them trailing the Red Raiders 13-3, WVU was able to make a stop that helped turn the game around. When Isaiah Bruce recovered a Davis Webb fumble at the goal line, West Virginia was backed up on its own one-yard line.

Nine plays and almost four minutes later, after two long third-down conversions, junior running back Dreamius Smith scored on a 38-yard touchdown run. Then, after recovering a fumble on the ensuing kickoff, the Mountaineers were able to kick a field goal to tie the game heading into the locker room at halftime.

Those two drives served as the catalysts to a 27-3 run that put the Mountaineers ahead 27-16 with 4:16 to play in the third quarter.

It looked as if West Virginia had its chance to pull off another upset against a ranked, undefeated opponent. Everything the Mountaineers were going to need to have happen in order for them to turn their fortunes around in the second half of the year could start to happen.

Then things went wrong.

Offensively, after having five scoring drives in a row, West Virginia had four-straight punts and a turnover on downs. On those final five drives, WVU ran 19 plays and only picked up 1.7 yards per play.

On the other side of the ball, it was the Texas Tech offense that quickly bounced back. The Red Raiders scored 21-unanswered points on the Mountaineer defense en route to the come-from-behind victory to remain undefeated and pick up a big road victory.

While the win was huge for Tech, it's devastating for WVU.

The coaching staff admitted last week that the Baylor game was tough on the Mountaineers' confidence. After all the positive steps forward they were able to take - especially defensively - they felt the humiliating loss to the Bears was two steps back.

You have to think that a loss like this, where WVU had a very good team on the ropes and ready to pull away for a win, will be even tougher to take.

And it couldn't have come at a worse time. During a stretch in the season in which the Mountaineers are preparing to play plenty of close games that will be winnable, they need confidence in order to come away with those wins. This won't help them find that confidence.

It's getting to a point in the season where West Virginia needs to pick up some wins if it wants to pick up enough victories to earn a bid to another bowl game. With a talented Kansas State team coming up next week, the Mountaineers will have to go on the road and prove that they can bounce back after not one but two really tough losses.

If not, this team could be in serious jeopardy of losing its season and not picking up enough wins to go to a bowl.


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