Observations and Analysis From West Virginia's 17-16 Victory over Kansas State

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - There is a lot to glean from West Virginia's 17-16 win over Kansas State. These are some of our observations and notes from the thrilling come from behind performance.

  • First and foremost, it's worth noting how impressive it is just to see a team battle back from a game in which seemingly nothing was going right. The Mountaineers entered the fourth down 16-3 but found a way to dig deep and make plays on both sides of the ball. This win doesn't happen without the leadership that several upperclassmen displayed late in the game.

  • After two suspect performances, the defense played extremely well in this one, especially down the stretch. The Mountaineers held Kansas State to only 120 yards rushing (for an average of 2.9 ypc). The pass defense was exceptional as well, holding dual threat QB Jesse Ertz to 10-30 for 166 yards and one interception. After the game defensive coordinator Tony Gibson praised the defense's ability to show blitz and change its plays after Ertz audibled at the line of scrimmage. That was also critical in Kansas State using all three of its timeouts in both halves, which kept the ball out of Kansas State's hands after its missed field goal.

  • Offensively, Justin Crawford continues to make big runs at big times, and you can just feel that he's on the verge of busting some long touchdown runs. After only carrying the ball nine times last week, the junior toted the rock 18 times and picked up 106 yards and a touchdown in Saturday's win over KSU. You have to wonder if Crawford's uncanny ability to keep his legs churning and break through the line could make him the feature back in West Virginia's offense going forward.

  • Although a lot of people were scratching their heads when West Virginia opted to go for it on three fourth downs, it worked. The Mountaineers picked up two of those, so at this point you can't fault Dana Holgorsen for his aggressive play calling. Had Rushel Shell not fumbled near the Kansas State goal line, both drives where the Mountaineers converted would have resulted in touchdowns.

  • It's safe to say that Jovon Durante has his confidence back. The sophomore receiver started the season with no catches in his first two outings and had been under harsh criticism for dropping too many passes, but he came up with several big catches today, including the game winning catch in the back of the end zone. Durante finished with 7 receptions for 67 yards and a TD.

  • The one thing that the offense seemingly struggled with all game was blocking Kansas State's front four. West Virginia's tackles had no answer for K-State's pass rush and the Wildcats' sacked Howard three times on the day. Jordan Willis was especially impressive, as he dirupted the WVU passing game all after noon and picked up a pair of sacks.

  • Many people around the football program felt that eventually David Long would overtake Sean Walters at the will backer position, that happened today. Long, who is one of the most athletic linebackers the Mountaineers have, played very well in his first start for the Mountaineers and should be a big part of the Mountaineers defense going forward. Long gives West Virginia an athletic outside linebacker and could be a big part of generating a much-needed pass rush as the year progresses.

  • Another guy who we had not seen a lot of was Elijah Battle. The junior cornerback played well after coming in for Maurice Fleming, who Tony Gibson said was dealing with a lingering ankle injury that he sustained against Youngstown State. The Mountaineers depth in the secondary has been taking some hits lately, so it's a good week to have a bye and get healthy before going up against Texas Tech's pass happy offense.

  • There's no denying it, West Virginia got beat in the special teams department for the better part of the day. We saw a lapse in coverage as Kansas State took a kick return back to the West Virginia 43 in the third quarter and the Mountaineers' return game didn't look great either. Gary Jennings had a net total of -4 yards on three punt returns. Shelton Gibson picked up 56 yards on three kick returns and the Mountaineers had another penalty that forced a drive to start inside the 20.

  • Josh Lambert didn't look sharp at all in his first game back from a three-game suspension. Dana Holgorsen pulled the kicker after he missed a field goal early and picked picked up a delay of game on another kick.

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