That's much of what Howard was doing as well, trying to get a feel for just how bad the rib injury was. Even the most basic of bruising in the area causes issues with movement, breathing and even something as a cough or laughter due to the pain. It's an issue Howard battled in the second half, and will have to do again versus Youngstown State. And while the senior completed 23 of 25 passes for 253 yards - and was very good in the intermediate passing game - he admits there were a handful of missed throws that could have resulted in big plays, and much bigger point totals.
It's an aspect to eye, just how much Howard can function in terms of the passing game, and if head coach Dana Holgorsen chooses to protect what might be his most valuable commodity. Sure, the Mountaineers have thus far seemed able to overcome the losses of two defensive lineman, a starting free safety, a back-up middle linebacker and an offensive tackle, among others. But Howard might be WVU's most valuable player just because of what remains, at this time, very unproven reserves at the position. The performances of William Crest and Chris Chugunov have been examined and mulled over enough, so we won't digress. Suffice it to note that Howard's health is of seemingly the utmost importance moving forward.
Howard, above, speaks to how the injury occurred - non-contact, before the defenders knee hit the rib area - and what he went through treatment-wise at the half. He also details some of the actions that caused a handful of teammates, namely receiver Daikiel Shorts, to believe Howard was concussed, and gives a quick synopsis of the film review and his expectations against a Youngstown State team that limited Duquesne to just 10 points in its opener.
Tony Gibson, below, dissects the Mountaineers' defensive effort, and gives insights as to what he liked from the game tape, and what needs bettered. Among West Virginia's biggest issues - and it didn't have many in holding Missouri to just 11 points, including a late meaningless touchdown and two-point conversion - was that the UM receivers were able to shake free a handful off times. That was partially technique on the part of the safeties and corners, and part on the tempo with which the Tigers attempted to play. The visitors were intent on getting lined-up, and at times substituted on second down to set-up the personnel for third down in an effort to eliminate WVU's ability to get to its nickel an dime packages.
It was a nice idea that ultimately didn't come to fruition as West Virginia held UM to just 10 of 244 conversions and simply, as Gibson noted, made more plays. Other than the coverage issues, and the fact that the twos had to come back out of the game when Missouri recovered an onside kick after scoring eight points in just eight plays late in the 4th quarter, Gibson was pleased with the performance. Now, he says, the issues are improvement between game one and two, and then heading into a nice open week before a key meeting against BYU in Landover, Md.