West Virginia's Offense Stays Patient, Executes; Tony Gibson Upset With Defensive Performance

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - While there weren't many fantastic takeaways from West Virginia's 38-21 win over Youngstown State, among them was resiliency and patience.

Both West Virginia's offense and defense struggled at times, a primary component of why the Mountaineers remained tied with the FCS foe into the half. But once the offense ratcheted up its pay, especially along the line, WVU seemed able to secure the victory. And while quarterback Skyler Howard explained the ability to trust the process with a dose of greater effort, defensive coordinator Tony Gibson was displeased with his unit - to the point where he apologized to several former players for the performance.

Gibson literally apologized to former players and issued an acknowledgement of the offensive defense. It was a genuine gesture, and one reflected in the interview blow, where Gibson gives a succinct but honest review of the contest. West Virginia didn't perform truly poorly on the scoreboard, allowing an above average YSU offense just 21 points. But the Penguins racked up 405 yards of total offense, and were able to black WVU's line one-on-one while exploiting the coverage over the top for a big score that put the underdogs ahead 14-7 in the second quarter.

Gibson noted he was glad to have the open week date to follow, and that the week would be quite a long one for his players. He also noted that he felt the staff got outcoached across the board. "Their wide receivers coach was better than our DBs coach," he said. "Their offensive line coach was better than our defensive line coach. Their offensive coordinator was better than our coordinator. I got outcoached."

Whether that's true or not is questionable. What's not is that Gibson's unit allowed YSU to win the time of possession with six third and fourth down conversions while being blocked effectively and giving up 220 passing yards. It was often a methodical march by the Penguins, and an example of what can happen when West Virginia loses its hedge.

Howard found his in the second half, and finished 20-of-33 for 389 yards, five touchdowns and a single pick. He routinely hooked up with Shelton Gibson behind a clean pocket - the line allowed no sacks for a second straight game - and flashed that same running ability even without being 100 percent recovered from a rib injury suffered last week.

It all amounted to a solid win ad  203.6 passer rating, and although it won't be recalled as his finest game, it was good enough to slip past a pesky foe in a somewhat precarious position. All in all, as Howard noted, it's a game where West Virginia did what it needed to in getting a rather methodical victory and moving to 2-0. And, as the saying goes, still better to win ugly than lose pretty.


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