MORGANTOWN, W.Va.–Playing four quarters has been a challenging task for the West Virginia offense this football season.
In last week’s 28-23 win over Kansas State, the Mountaineers started out effective but sputtered in the second half, which also happened the previous week.
During the first half, WVU picked up 338 yards of offense. Will Grier completed 16-of-28 passes for 275 yards. However, those numbers drastically declined after halftime. in the fourth quarter the Mountaineers had just 44 yards of total offense.
Every game, WVU seems to either start slow or finish slow.
“If we put together four quarters, we would have 40 plus points,” senior wide receiver Ka’Raun White said. “We put about 20 up in one quarter so if we could just put it all together for four quarters who knows.”
How can an offense with Grier, David Sills V, White, Gary Jennings, Justin Crawford and Kennedy McKoy look so deflated at times?
“Some of the things are the inconsistencies of us,” offensive coordinator Jake Spavital said. “Sometimes we look like the greatest offense to ever walk on this planet and then the next drive, we look like the worst offense to ever play the game. It’s a lot of up’s and down’s with where we’re at, but a lot of it comes down to execution, some of it comes down to play calls and some it comes down to communication that’s out there on the field.
“I have to do a better job of putting us in better positions, especially on third down. It’s just all got to come together. It’s a mixture of all of us, and we all have to get back on the same page and be consistent in more situations. They see it. They know how explosive they can be, and they know how good they can be if they play consistently for four quarters. You have to play four quarters as an offense this year. I challenge them every week, and they know it. That’s something that they’re still trying to work towards putting it all together.”
Making easy catches is a must and if passes are dropped, the Mountaineers need to bounce back.
“We’ve just got to overcome adversity. If you drop a ball, which we had a lot of drops in this past game, but where I was disappointed is where we didn’t come back out and overcome that,” Spavital said. “At some point, we’ve got to be able to know that, in football, there’s not going to be a perfect game but you’ve got to be able to man up, play the next play and overcome adversity.”
Converting third downs have been a struggle for WVU and receivers coach Tyron Carrier believes his men need to make the plays no matter what the circumstances are.
“Catch the ball,” he said. “That’s just routine plays that we have to make. The biggest emphasis is just catching the ball, no matter what the conditions are, we have to make that play.”
Against Kansas State, the Mountaineers converted 3-of-12 third-downs.
“Ours was terrible last week,” head coach Dana Holgorsen said. “They hit about the same as us, we’re both at about 38, 39 percent, I believe, which is bottom-half. It’s the same thing, you have to be able to execute in tight spaces. If people are going to beat you up, then you have to be able to body people and make catches. Gary (Jennings) has been fantastic with that; we need a few more guys be able to do that. They know we’re going to Gary on third-and-four. He’s made some big catches, but we need other guys that need to be options as well.”
WVU has averaged 39.0 points per contest. The offense has rushed for a total of 1,618 yard and passed for 3,521 yards. Red-zone offense has improved significantly over last year.
If the Mountaineers could fire on all cylinders for an entire four quarters, they would blow defenses out of the water and possibly have won some close games that they lost.
“We’re one of the Top-10 offenses, I’m guessing,” Spavital said. “We probably are. They’re explosive, and they see their inconsistencies in themselves. That shows them that they’re a good offense, but there is so much that they’ve left out there on the field. They can be a lot better. It could be a scary deal if we could put it together for four quarters.”
Fortunately, two regular season games remain and the opportunity to show their true potential and that they can be efficient.
“I think a lot of people around the country know that when our offense is hot, we’re one of the best in the country,” Sills said. “That’s one thing but we have to do it for four quarters. I still think we haven’t been able to put together a full, complete game on the offensive side. So that’s what we are looking forward to, striving to do. So we are going to work hard in practice and try and put together a full game the Texas game.”
Cover Photo Credit:Ben Queen-USA TODAY SPORTS