Rose gave credit on multiple occasions to the Sooners, noting that “it’s going to take a really good effort” to hang a loss on them. That was demonstrated with West Virginia’s struggles against the OU running game, which racked up 301 yards despite the knowledge that a heavy dose of a ground attack was in store.
“We knew they were going to be able to run the ball. Their tempo was pretty good, and that is a good football team,” Rose confirmed. “They had a good game plan for us.”
The Mountaineers tried to adjust, at times squeezing the middle to force plays to bounce outside, and at other junctures rushing hard off the edge to try to disrupt the planned path of the play, but ultimately WVU couldn’t find anything that was consistently successful. OU averaged 6.5 yards per carry, which led to a seven minute and 30 second bulge in time of possession. While West Virginia’s defense seemed to get worn down late, Rose believed the lapses were more caused by scheme and execution deficiencies.
“We made some checks in the second half but it took us a long time to get into the defense that we needed to stop them. We watched all three of their backs, and we knew Ford would be out. We knew 28 was a speed guy and [Perine] was a pounder. We just didn’t do a very good job of wrapping up and making the play.
“They have good offensive line and they are big up front. I don’t feel like they handled us physically, I just feel like we got outgapped a little bit. There may be times when you are in the wrong place, but you still need to make a play. And there may be times and situations when you are in the right place, but you don’t make it. That’s football.”
Rose wasn’t making excuses for the loss, or indicating ambivalence about the outcome. He was simply pointing out a fact that is often overlooked or discounted. Teams that can make plays when they aren’t in the best position are ones that win more games. West Virginia is making progress in that area, but it’s not to Oklahoma’s level yet.
Even with the defensive problems, the Mountaineer were still in the game when Wes Tonkery followed a Mountaineer field goal with a beautiful interception at OU’s 48. On the play, Tonkery got a great deep drop and snared Trevor Knight’s pass, giving his team a chance to take the lead. However, just two plays later, WVU returned the favor with an interception of their own. The Sooners promptly marched the field and scored to extend their lead to 11.
“There’s going to be adversity in every game,” Rose said of the critical sequence. “When Wes Tonkery picked that ball off and we gave up another turnover right after that that’s a sudden change, and we have to be able to come back from that. They did a better job than we did in answering adversity, and that’s probably why they got the win.”
Despite those missed chances, Rose, who publicly vowed a year ago to change his team’s attitude toward play after a pair of season-ending desultory efforts, remains optimistic.
“We haveeight8 more Big 12 games. After the off week, which we can use to get healthier, we have Kansas next, and that is who we are looking forward to playing. It’s a bummer that we lost, but it is not the end of the world. We can still have a good season and make a good bowl game. “