Chip Shots

Jim Buzzerd

Shootout likely

The West Virginia University Football Team had a fairly easy time with Kansas State in the Big 12 opener for both schools last Saturday in Morgantown. The final score was 35-6, but the WVU offense was not running like a well-oiled machine. Quarterback Will Grier threw an interception on the Mountaineers’ first possession and freshman running back Leddie Brown fumbled the ball away on the second possession. Those who had wondered what effect the unscheduled week off would have on the Mountaineers had their answer.

Fortunately, the Mountaineer defense did not have any rust to shake off. The WVU defense has been a pleasant surprise thus far and that unit came up big in the second quarter with a fourth and inches stop at the Wildcat 39 yard line. That play came with WVU leading just 7-0 with a little more than five minutes on the first half clock. Linebacker Dylan Tonkery sniffed out the off tackle call for a four yard loss that set the Mountaineers up with excellent field position.

Seven plays later WVU went up 14-0 when Grier hit David Sills with a one-yard touchdown pass and 2:31 left in the half. The defense forced a KSU three and out and took the ball back at their own 27 with 57 seconds in the half. The West Virginia offense and Grier looked sharp this time moving 73 yards in seven plays with Grier and Sills hooking up for another one-yard touchdown pass. Grier would throw for two more touchdowns in the third quarter to finish with five for the game.

The defense really provided a spark in this game with the fourth down stop and the three and out that allowed the offense to score two late second quarter touchdowns and break the game open. Kansas State did not cross midfield until the third quarter and Saturday was the first time a WVU defense did not allow a touchdown since a 30-6 win over Iowa State on November 28, 2015.  Oh, and the defense’s 12.33 point per game allowed is tops in the country.

That’s the good news. The bad news is the defense hasn’t faced a good offensive team yet and that is going to change this Saturday when the Mountaineers face Texas Tech, the nation’s top passing team. The Red Raiders have won three games in a row since a season opening 47-27 loss to Mississippi on a neutral field. They went on the road Saturday and stunned Oklahoma State in Stillwater 41-17. That win prompted the AP voters to move Texas Tech into their Top 25 in this week’s poll. WVU is 12th in both the AP and Coaches polls.

Saturday’s game is at noon on ESPN2.