But in the end, as they have eight out of the last nine times, West Virginia found a way to win. It was a survive-at-all-costs, gasping-for-breathe job, but the Mountaineers come out of nonconference play undefeated after the 35-32 win over BYU. The take from defensive coordinator Tony Gibson was actually somewhat positive, the wily coach understanding the need to build his players up after a medicore performance against a physical team just like he needed to break them down after a lack of effort versus Youngstown State.
Gibson's unit gave up more than double the rushing yardage that BYU averages in 280 yards, and was susceptible to the big play after some lackluster coverage and subpar pass rush. But as Gibson noted, there were issues at many positions - but nothing West Virginia can't clean up before seeing a very similar opponent in Kansas State to open Big 12 play on Oct. 1.
"There's 11 guys involved," Gibson said. "Whether we didn't hit a blitz, whether our pass rush didn't get home, a guy blew a pass rush underneath. Everybody thinks it's the DBs. It's not always the DBs. But the thing we did today is we created turnovers. We got four today. It's good to get back on board with that. The rest of our stats, I don't care about. I care about the win."
If West Virginia is graded purely on pass-fail, it indeed gets a pass for the win. But there are worries, as Gibson admitted, and they are from various spots along the defense. The Mountaineers didn't adequately get off the field, BYU converting 10 of 15 chances. It gave up chunks over the top and underneath. It couldn't halt the power of a very stout running game. But it did simply continue to make plays just enough to aid a wilting offense and escape with the win.
"I thought they had a great plan against us," Gibson said. "They got big on us and ran it right at us. They thought that they could knock us off the ball and I was afraid of that all week. We chopped the front up trying to get the ball to bounce (outside) but he was ticking it right downhill on us. We tried to adjust and we settled in for awhile and it was going good. Losing Antonio Crawford (hurt). (Maurice) Fleming made the play of the game."
Which was helped by Nana Kyeremeh, who made a tip on the play that allowed Fleming to make his first interception as a Mountaineer to seal the win. Fleming, one of three defenders with a pick, talks about his play below. Rasul Douglas returned one interception 54 yards for a score, and Jeremy Tyler also had a pick while Fleming and Adam Shuler forced fumbles. It amounted to a blurry victory, but one that will hold at season's end, and one that goes on the docket in the left hand column.
"You get a win any way you can get it and get these guys experience, it will help us down the road in the Big 12 schedule," Gibson said.null