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October 19, 2013

Keys to the Game: Texas Tech Edition





In a disappointing loss against a top 25 team that the Mountaineers had on the ropes, West Virginia fell short in that attempt as Texas Tech was able to gut out a win in Morgantown. A valiant effort none the less the Mountaineer drop to 3-4 and more importantly now have their third loss in conference. WVSports.com looks to highlight the keys that impacted today game.

One of WVSports.com keys to today's game was winning the rushing game. West Virginia was coming into this game with well over a yard more of yards per carry from the starting running back position. If WVU wanted to keep this game close, let alone gain its second top 25 victory of the season, they were going to need to keep this trend going.

The Mountaineers did just that early on in the game. At half time Mountaineer backs Dreamius Smith and Charles Sims were averaging 7.24 YPC while the duo of Kenny Williams and DeAndre Washington for Texas Tech were averaging just under two yards. As the game went on WVU went away from their running game but Smith and Sims finished with a 5.35 yard per carry average. What cemented the game for Texas Tech was the ability of Williams and Washington to get first downs in the fourth quarter. Overall they only rushed for 3.42 YPC but it was the 5.0 YPC in the fourth that kept the Mountaineer defense on the field for most of the fourth quarter as the Red Raiders extended their lead to 10 points.

Momentum changes for West Virginia:

With Texas Tech up 13-3 and knocking on the door to score once again, West Virginia was able to create a timely turnover when Texas Tech freshman quarterback had the ball knocked out when he tried to score on a 12 yard run. Even with a turnover the offense had to go 99 yards to score to try and get back in the game. After two unsuccessful passes, a run by Sims to gain the first down was just inches away from being a touchdown on its own.

Just three plays later West Virginia was looking at another 3rd and long. Clint Trickett threw a deep pass to Kevin White and the JUCO transfer went up and out muscled the Texas Tech corner and safety to pull down a 40 yard reception that not only converted the third down but also got the Mountaineer into Red Raider territory. Once again three plays later West Virginia was looking at another third down and for the third straight time a big play converted. This time running back Dreamius Smith busted a 38 yard touchdown pass.

When it was lost:

With early success in the running game, West Virginia unexpectedly went to an almost exclusive passing attack that stalled the offense as it lead to four straight short drives, three that ended after just three plays. Up 27-16, Texas Tech used this lull in the Mountaineer offense to get back into the game with two touchdown drives that put the Red Raiders back on top 30-27 and eventually take the game 37-27.

Making the Grade:

You can't walk away from this hard fought game and not mention the outstanding performances of a few players and units. One of those being the offensive line. Struggling all year to maintain a consistent push Mountaineer running backs had holes all day to run through. The only thing that seemed to be able to stop West Virginia running backs Dreamius Smith and Charles Sims was the play calling. A huge assist to the effort of the offensive line goes to the wide receivers who also had their best day blocking.

Another big time performer was freshman wide receiver Daikiel Shorts. The slot receiver ended the game with 9 receptions for 78 yards. Shorts was very aggressive after he caught the ball, punished corners and safeties as he would lower his shoulder after every screen pass. In one of the most beautiful catches of the season Shorts pulled down a pass over the defenders head on a wheel route. The pass was right on the money and Shorts was able to snag it with a defender draped all over him. He also was a valuable blocker on a few long runs, including the 12 yard run by Dreamius Smith in the 3rd quarter which put WVU up 27-16.


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