A garden variety road win this wasn't. West Virginia came in to a venue in which Tech had racked up 50-plus points an NCAA-record nine straight times and simply outplayed the opponent in every phase. The Mountaineer defense limited Tech to the 17 points and just 379 total offensive yards - approximately 250 off their season average. WVU forced a turnover while committing none, went 8-for-8 in the red zone with six touchdowns, showed balanced offense at 332 rushing and 318 passing yards and seemed, frankly, one step ahead of Kliff Kingsburg and the Raiders' coaching staff.
Part of that, as Holgorsen noted, was West Virginia's familiarity with the foe. But that should work both ways. Instead, the Mountaineers managed the game well, using the run to complement the pass and limiting its defense to 77 plays, which was the exact same amount WVU itself ran. It built a lead with crisp execution and a stifling secondary that stayed with Tech's wideouts all game. Off that defensive effort, and the ability to pressure Patrick Mahomes and force rushed throws while at least limiting upfield scrambles, the offense pieced together drives of 91, 89, 83, 75 and 70 yards for scores. It literally gashed the Raiders up front and into the second level with Rushel Shell and Justin Crawford, then hit in the intermediate passing game with Jovon Durante and Daikiel Shorts as well.
Holgorsen's idea of balance came to fruition, West Virginia doing what it needed in every offensive phase to win even as Shelton Gibson was held to four catches for 14 yards. It was what the team has been building toward since Holgorsen abandoned the true Air Raid for a better rushing attack, an idea that has been formulating in his head even when he was with Mike Leach in Lubbock. Now, it seems the Mountaineers can indeed take advantage of whatever defenses show.
That's not to write that one should harp upon this display too much. Tech entered as abhorrent and left just as bad on defense. But the complete ability to both move the ball at will and finish, combined with a fantastic defensive performance and solid special teams leaves a lot of promise and potential on a team that seems to be getting better, and whose past wins do as well. Holgorsen, above, dissects all those issues and more in his post game comments.null