This past Saturday, West Virginia’s Mountaineers picked up their fourth win of the season in Lubbock, Texas against the Red Raiders. The game displayed two distinctly different halves: one featured an explosive offense and dominating defense. The other, provided a more stagnant offense along with an unfortunately porous defense. In this fourth addition of “From the Film Room,” we’ll address the drastic contrast between the first and second halves of play in this past Saturday’s game.
Below you’ll see a well executed zone running play from the first half. The offensive line gets significant push against the Red Raiders defense, which allows for a sizable gain.
Here, you see almost the same play from the second half, but with completely different results. Texas Tech’s defensive line stalls the attack and limits Kennedy McKoy to a one yard gain. The black line on the field marks the line of scrimmage. At the end of the two clips, notice where the majority of West Virginia offensive lineman are relative to the line of scrimmage. In the clip above, the Mountaineers push Texas Tech well past that line. Below, the polar opposite occurs. In the second half, West Virginia struggled to run the ball effectively because they weren’t able to block defenders and reset that imaginary line downfield.
In the first half, Will Grier noticed single coverage lined up against Marcus Simms. In this video you can see Grier execute an exceptional throw, over top of the corner, for a touchdown.
Simms got the exact same look in the second half; Grier identified it but just barely over threw his receiver. Deep passes by nature have a lower completion percentage due to their difficulty. This is a challenging throw to execute, but it shows how being off, even a little bit, can completely change a game. If Grier is able to complete this pass for a touchdown, the complexion of the second half changes. This would likely have given West Virginia the spark they needed to turn things around.
In the first half, West Virginia was able to control Texas Tech’s conventional running game by using aggressive plays to create penetration. Kenny Bigelow, the USC transfer, has been a critical addition to the Mountaineer’s defensive line. This clip is an excellent example of his strong play this season. Bigelow beats his blocker and makes a tackle for loss.
At the end of the first half, Texas Tech’s starting quarterback, Alan Bowman, suffered a partially collapsed lung after a crushing blow from WVU’s Ezekiel Rose and Keith Washington. He was replaced by dual-threat quarterback, Jett Duffey. Bowman is more of a traditional pocket passer, while Duffey has the ability to hurt defenses with his legs. The combination of Duffey’s skills and West Virginia’s poor tackling led to one of the most defining plays of the second half. Check it out below.
Red Raiders’ Head Coach, Kliff Kingsburry, creates different game plans for his quarterbacks. He doesn’t expect his signal callers to fit into a single scheme; he changes it to the strengths of his players. Therefore, Kingsburry’s offensive game plan completely changed when Duffey stepped on the field. The changes were extremely effective as, not only did he throw for 172 yards, but, he also led the team in rushing with 86 yards. One of the specific plays that was added was the Zone Read. Here, West Virginia’s JoVanni Stewart, over commits to the running back’s fake, loses contain and allows Duffey to escape.
Also added to the playbook was a large amount of roll-out passes. Duffey exhibited a high level of execution on both roll-out passes and when he was forced out of the pocket. Here, you can see Duffey is forced out of the pocket by pressure but was able to take advantage of West Virginia’s defense.
The difference in performance between the two halves was determined by both execution and energy. In post game interviews, Defensive Coordinator, Tony Gibson, said that the team lacked energy in the second half. After watching the film, this definitely showed. Additionally, the Mountaineers struggled to contain the dual threat attack of Duffey. Thankfully, the defense will have time to make corrections before taking on Oklahoma’s mobile quarterback, Kyler Murry.
This weekend, Kansas comes to town looking to ruin West Virginia’s 2018 Homecoming. The Jayhawks will be seeking to continue their offensive success after amassing over 300 yards of rushing against the Mountaineers last year. The Old Gold and Blue will need to execute more effectively this weekend if they want to continue their winning streak.