West Virginia had multiple opportunities in the red zone that were spoiled by incompletion's and broken plays. Jovon Durante’s touchdown was the most exciting play of the half. After, the offense slowed. Between the red zones moving the ball was far easier, as shown from Skyler Howard’s 246 first-half passing yards.
A string of Josh Lambert field goals were the only other points put on the board. Four red zone chances led to three field goals, and a missed fourth-and-one. Wendell Smallwood and Rushel Shell only totaled 67-yards on the ground through the two quarters, which is underwhelming for how good the offensive line has been built up through camp.
Of course, the second half was a different story, but conference play won’t be so forgiving. Ron Crook said the offense needed consistency across the board, but when the offense is erratic it is hard to get a good substitution routine.
“You get into a situation where after the first series we stalled, big play, stalled, and then hit a big play,” said Crook. “So you were going four or five plays, and it’s hard to get a good rotation going.”
Obviously, getting backups playing time is necessary, especially on the offensive line. Crook doesn’t want to fall into a situation like last year where the same five or six offensive lineman played the entire season. Luckily, this team has depth, but getting the backups more in-game reps is significant.
The line had their share of mistakes as well. West Virginia did not convert on their only fourth down attempt in the first-half. Adam Pankey admitted he wasn’t impressed with his groups showing.
“How we really didn’t finish the first half is what jumped out at me,” sad Pankey. "You’ve got fourth-and-short, and I felt like that was one we should have picked up. We needed to get our pads lower and have a better push.”
Skyler Howard has taken his fair share of criticism. Throwing high was a problem on a few occasions. The mistake of the first half was the missed connection on third down from Howard to Durante. The play came late in the second quarter, and could have led to a score. the quarterback took full responsibility for the mistake.
“Third down and in the red zone are times we have to capitalize,” said Howard. “We’re going to make a big emphasis on that this week.”
Liberty’s defensive scheme is similar to Georgia Southern’s. So, we’ll see what kind of improvement the Mountaineers make against the second non-conference opponent.
WVU Assistant Coach Ron Crook reviews offensive line agaisnt Georgia Southern