Observations From West Virginia's Narrow Escape Over BYU

LANDOVER, MD. - It wasn't a particularly satisfying victory for West Virginia, but at the end of the day the Mountaineers prevailed over a BYU team that wouldn't go away and gutted out a 35-32 win. See our staff's notes and observations following the victory.

  • First things first, there was an obvious sense of complacency that set in after Daikiel Shorts' nine yard touchdown grab that put the Mountaineers up 35-19 in the fourth quarter. Immediately after the score, West Virginia's defense allowed two quick scoring drives and the offense committed two three-and-outs. West Virginia was very lucky to survive after such an ugly final 11:27 to play.
  • For the first 48 minutes of the game, West Virginia's offense looked great. Aside from the early interception, Skyler Howard looked crisp and picked apart a very good BYU defense.
  • The running game was also impressive as Rushel Shell picked up two scores and newcomers Kennedy McKoy and Justin Crawford showed the ability to make big plays in big moments. Crawford bounced back from a mediocre performance against Youngstown State, and he made several big runs that willed the Mountaineers to victory.
  • It was nice to see Jovon Durante make some early catches. The West Virginia speedster had not registered a catch in the first two contests of the season. Hopefully this results in some confidence for Durante and he is able to become the vertical threat that we all know he is capable of becoming later in the season.
  • On the defensive side of the ball, it was disappointing to see BYU own the line of scrimmage and pick up big chunks of yards while running from the I formation. It was also disappointing to see a lack of a consistent pass rush, which is something the Mountaineers will desperately need in Big 12 play.
  • That lack of pass rush played a big factor in the Mountaineers inability to stop BYU on third down throughout the afternoon. The Cougars finished the game 10-15 (66 percent) on third down attempts.
  • While the defense gave up several drives to a BYU offense that hadn't scored over 20 points prior to Saturday afternoon's game, you have to give them some credit for forcing some big turnovers, including Maurice Flemming's game sealing interception with roughly a minute left in the fourth quarter.
  • After being one of the stronger points in the first two games, the special teams performance was a nightmare. BYU regularly ran kick returns near midfield, forcing the Mountaineers to try and squib the ball or kick it to the upmen in hopes of preventing a big return. On the flip side of that equation was a very subpar kick return performance, as the Mountaineers started several drives inside their own 20 yard line.
  • Prior to the start of the season Dana Holgorsen mentioned returning turnovers for touchdowns as a big point of emphasis for the Mountaineers defense. It looks like the added work has somewhat paid off as Rasul Douglas took an interception 54 yards to the end zone in the second quarter.
  • Early in the game cornerback Antonio Crawford appeared to injure his wrist of forearm. He did not return to the game after the injury.
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