A satirical and statistical review of West Virginia's 31-26 win against Texas Tech.

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - A smattering of facts and figures from West Virginia's 31-26 grind-it-out victory over Texas Tech.

  • Entering the game, Texas Tech had not defeated a Big 12 foe outside Kansas and Iowa State since beating WVU in 2013.
  • West Virginia won the toss and elected to again receive, which seems to be the preference for Dana Holgorsen.
  • One the drive, the Mountaineers promptly moved into Texas Tech territory before facing a fourth and one. WVU converted, but receiver David Sills was called for lining up in the backfield. In a rare twist, the officials then measured the previous spot and, when WVU was short, then enforced the penalty. The Mountaineers now facing a fourth and six instead of fourrth and one, punted. The drive encapsulated everything bad about the month of October, including dropped passes, throws over the head of open wideouts and untimely penalties.
  • The defense, however, held Tech on a three-and-out, meaning both offenses were surprisingly forced into punts on their initial possessions.
  • When West Virginia's Rushel Shell scored on a five-yard carry at the 9:45 mark of the first quarter for a 6-0 lead, it represented the first time WVU has been ahead in a game since Maryland, a span of 41 days.
  • After pulling its microcosum of the season opening drive, WVU did the same on the defensive side on Tech's first score. With the Red Raiders facing third and goal from the 10-yard line, and coming out of a called timeout, the Mountaineers got pressure, covered well and forced the play to breakdown. What they couldn't do was finish the pressure, as Patrick Mahomes scrambled away from pressure and, roling right, found Jakeem Grant at the five. Grant then avoided a tackle and scored, causing Holgorsen to shake his head in frustration.
  • That increased two plays later when Skyler Howard, suffering through several misses passes early, couldn't hit Shelton Gibson on a wide open slant that would have gained major yardage. WVU, picking up chunks with its backs, then ran Howard, who was stopped short.
  • After another Tech punt, West Virginia faced a third and two from the 32 yard line. Instead of throwing deep, thenc hasing with a run, the Mountaineers used power and simply ran offf tackle with its best back in Wendell Smallwood. Smallwood picked up the yardage, then spun off a tackle before breaking another for the first down. It was smart play calling, and showed WVU needed to stick with the run. It didn't, and promptly got behind the chains for a third and 14 before Howard found Jordan Thompson across the middle for the first down. The next play? A handoff to Smallwood, who went 16 yards untouched for a 14-7 lead at the 13:29 mark of the second quarter. The drive itself was impressive, WVU moving 91 yards on 11 plays, representing the longest drive of the year in terms of yardage (obviously not counting the 100-yard kickoff return against Baylor) and tying for the second-longest in plays.
  • There's not being conservative, then there's Holgorsen and Kliff Kingsbury. The latter, down 14-7 early in the second quarter and facing a fourth and six at the 24-yard line, chose to go for it. The Raiders had a wideout screen set-up to the hot (blitzing) side, but Mahomes' overthrow turned the ball over on downs. It was a showcase of the aspects that make fans either love or hate the approach.
  • West Virginia often used the Howard keeper on secondand long situations. On one such instance, Adam Pankey pulled from his left guard slot to try and engage the linebacker coming from the other side. But Pankey couldn't get there because the play development was too fast. Howard has to be more patient, or the play needs scrapped.
  • The Mountaineers nearly got caught in the same situation that hurt them against TCU in giving up a score just before the half, then having to kickoff to open the third quarter. After Daryl Worley's interception to thwart a Tech scoring drive inside the five-yard line, WVU went three and out, then compounded the problem when Nick O'Toole shanked a 23-yard punt into the bench. The Raiders scored, and were carrying all the momentum into the break before West Virginia was able to respond with Josh Lambert's 39-yard field goal and a 17-14 lead at the half. Lambert earlier had missed a 35-yarder to the right.
  • At the break, WVU's defense had held TTU to 14 points and Grant to five catches for just eight yards and a score. The total yardage numbers were 266 to 222 in favor of the Mountaineers. The teams were nearly even in every other statistical category.
  • West Virginia manufactured some key offense in its first drive of the second half. The Mountaineers not only stopped Texas Tech, but after taking possession at their own one, ripped off a pair of runs that moved the ball past the 20-yard line. It was a needed field position swing that was partially negated by Howard's throw late into double coverage that resulted in an interception.
  • The defense, again, was able to manage a stand, holding Texas Tech to a 34-yard field goal to tie the game 17-17 with 8:36 remaining in the third quarter.
  • The response was impressive, West Virginia turning to its obvious strength onthe ground to churn out a 10-play, 65-yard drive culminated by Shell's three-yard plunge for a 24-17 lead. When the Mountaineers forced a three and out, WVU had an opportunity to seize momentum late in the third quarter. But Howard's pass was tipped and intercepted, and once again the defense was pinned inisde its own territory. They held again, and Tech had to settle for a field goal to trim the deficit to 24-20 as the fourth quater began.
  • That was enough to send West Virginia back to the ground, and the Mountaineers responded with an eight-play, 59-yard drive. All but one play was via the ground, and WVU had found its security blanket against TTU after Howard's two-yard keeper for a 31-20 lead. 
  • Tech answered with an 81-yard drive over 13 plays, culminating in Deandre Washington's score off a reception. Down 31-26 inside the seven-minute mark, the Raiders made the obvious choice to go for two, but Mahomes fumbled on the play. As a rule, only the fumbling player can advance the ball on a try, and thus the recovery in the end zone by another player made no difference and the try was ruled no good.
  • As expected, WVU went back to the ground, and won the game via a churning 16-play, 63-yard march that ended when Howard took a pair of knees at the one-yard line to run out he clock. The 16 plays were the most of any drive this season for the Mountaineers. The selection? A dozen runs against four passes as WVU finished with exactly 300 yard rushing and 28 first downs in evemtually wearing down Texas tech in the most imperative of wins.
  • WVU's defense, meanwhile, held Tech to its lowest point total of the season.

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