Notes and Observations From West Virginia's 34-10 Victory Over TCU

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Another strong performance from Tony Gibson's defense and the best performance of the year by WVU's special teams fueled Saturday's 34-10 win.

  • The first thing that stands out about today's performance was the third consecutive stellar performance of Tony Gibon's defense. Much like last week, Gibson was able to to make one of the country's top quarterbacks (this time Kenny Hill) look average at best by applying pressure. Hill missed a lot of managable throws because of the pressure he routinely faced.

  • It can't be stated how important it was for West Virginia to get out to a fasts tart and that's exactly what it did. You couldn't have scripted a better start than a fumble on the games opening kickoff, a quick touchdown and an interception by Rasul Douglas. The Mountaineers set the tone early for tonight's contest.

  • There are a lot of players who are much improved on this year's defense, but none may be more improved than Rasul Douglas. Douglas is routinely in the right spot and has a knack for coming up with big plays and timely interception. The senior who had trouble breaking last year's two deep now has three interceptions on the season.

  • Justin Arndt al played a big factor in tonight's defensive effort. He made a number of sound, fundamental plays as he routinely set the edge, tackled in space and did an excellent job when he was tasked with spying on TCU quarterback Kenny Hill.

  • After some abysmal performances in previous weeks, West Virginia's special teams were a major factor in tonight's win. The Mountaineers kickoff team looked the best it has all season as it forced two fumbles and routinely stifled the Horned Frogs' return game. One specific player who made a few nice plays in coverage was Marvin Gross. Kudos to Gross and Morgantown native Shane Commodore for forcing two big turnovers in kick coverage.

  • One thing that stood out was WVU's ability to adjust to TCU's running game after the first few drives and West Virginia's defense virtually shut down the Horned Frogs after the first quarter.

  • On the offensive end, this was not a crisp performance for West Virginia. Skyler Howard was routinely under duress and was sacked a season high five times. TCU's defensive line is the real deal and this appeared to be the best front that the Mountaineers have faced.
     
  • Rushel Shell played his tail off tonight and had what may be his most impressive performance of the season. Shell rushed 24 times for 117 yards (his second 100 yard game in a row) and stepped in when it was apparent that Justin Crawford was not close t being 100 percent. Shell has received his share of criticism from fans and media alike but tonight he ran hard and with purpose.

  • Earlier in the week, Dana Holgorsen seemingly challenged the receivers to make big plays in big situations. Tonight they did that. Jovon Durante and Ka'Raun White both made circus catches (Durante's will surely be on SportsCenter) and Daikiel Shorts was consistent and sure handed as always.

  • And one last thing, the targeting call on Elijah Battle was the worst call I have seen at any level. Similar plays happen over 100 times in every football game and tonight's officiating crew should be ashamed that even after reviewing the "targeting" call they ejected the cornerback. Dana Holgorsen has every right to be livid about the call.

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