West Virginia's right guard had played a serviceable first half amidst a solid line performance that included very little pressure on Skyler Howard and the ability to overcome a season-ending ACL tear to blindside tackle Yodny Cajuste. All in all, things were progressing smoothly against SEC foe Missouri.
And Bosch wasn't happy at all. It wasn't that the front five's performance was poor. Instead, it was much more personal than that.
"You have to apply yourself and I feel like I could work on coming out better," he said. "I didn’t play the first half as well as I wanted. Second half, I came out and played the way I’m used to playing. I felt like I was playing flat. I think the rest of the unit was playing really well, but I felt like I was playing flat. The second half, refocusing was my biggest challenge. I wasn’t playing aggressive like I normally do. I kind of pride myself on that - I wasn’t playing as aggressive as I wanted to - but second half I kind of came back and started playing the way I wanted to.
"Schematically we did great. I just didn’t think I was playing as aggressively as I wanted to in the first half. But we all did our jobs, and I did my job as well as I could. I like to play with a little bit more of an edge. I felt like I didn’t play the first two quarters as aggressively as I could have."
Which is a healthy inspection of his own performance over the first 30 minutes of the opener. West Virginia's offense was moving the ball fine, hitting short and intermediate routs while avoiding the deep ball as Missouri backed the corners off and sat in a two deep. The Mountaineers gashed the Tigers in the run game via the one-two punch of Rushel Shell and Justin Crawford, and by the time Bosch regrouped already had 232 yards of offense. But WVU also settled for field goals twice in the red zone, and never quite found the push near the end zone. Indeed, the lone score came on a 3-yard run by Shell; Crawford's one-yard plunge didn't come until the first drive of the second half. So there was room for improvement.
It seems that was made on the initial possession of the third quarter. West Virginia pieced together an impressive eight-play, 70-yard rive which mixed the run and pass efficiently. Shell picked up 24 rushing yards, then took a reception 22 yards. Howard then hit the ultra dependable Daikiel Shorts for 24 more to move the ball to the 10 yard line. Crawford cleaned up from there, using two carries to score, the last a needed third and goal conversion.
"They did a little bit of twisting, not as much as we anticipated," Bosch said of Missouri's four-down set. "The first game you don't really see a lot of twisting. It's more the base defensive stuff because they aren't as honed in on technique."
Which shouldn't be the case this Saturday, when the Mountaineers play host to Youngstown State. Much like Missouri, the Penguins offer up an elite level edge rusher in end Derek Rivers (6-5, 250 lbs). Though the senior owns a lanky frame, his long arms and quickness off the snap has made him the school's all-time leader in sacks with 27, snapping the previous record of 22 set more than a decade ago. Perhaps most impressively, it took Rivers just 28 games to set the mark, and in YSU's 45-10 win over Duquesne added on with one sack to go with two tackles for loss and a fumble recovery.
The Penguins start nine seniors on defense, including their entire secondary and both end slots on the defensive line. But like with Missouri, Bosch and interior mates Tyler Orlosky and, of now, Tony Matteo (Adam Pankey comes off a one-game suspension, but is listed as a back-up at LG in the latest depth chart) will tangle with less experienced players in sophomores Cody Squiric and Savon Smith. And what Youngstown State lacks in size - it averages 6-3, 275 pounds - it has made up for in gap integrity and tackling. YSU held Duquesne to just 34 yards on 21 carries in the opener, the fewest allowed by the program since November of 2011. And just once in the last 13 games - the entire tenure of defensive-minded second-year head coach Bo Pelini - have the Penguins allowed more than 200 yards passing.
"I promise you you will see three to four guys in there on the inside spots," offensive line coach Ron Crook said of the rotation plans as Pankey returns. "And probably three guys on the outside slots. We will see how it shakes out by the end of the week. I was very pleased with the way the guys stuck together. They played off each other and they communicated well. We didn't have a lot of missed assignments. There's a lot of stuff we have to get cleaned up, but there always is after the first game. If they have that same mentality and play with the same togetherness we have a chance to have a good season."null