2017-11-29 / Sports

Chip Shots

by Jim Buzzerd


Annoy: to disturb or irritate especially by repeated acts

So, it’s no secret I’m a huge fan of West Virginia University athletics, especially football and men’s basketball. For those two teams I go to great lengths to make sure that if I’m not going to be at the game, then I’ll be somewhere that I can watch on TV. Preferably live, but thank goodness for the good ole DVR when watching live is not an option.

I had no trouble fitting last Saturday’s matchup between West Virginia and fourth ranked Oklahoma into my live viewing schedule. Of course my anticipation of the matchup was met with less enthusiasm than if WVU quarterback Will Grier was healthy and playing in the game. Instead, I was left to ponder what kind of defensive effort the Mountaineers would have to have just to give sophomore quarterback Chris Chugunov any kind of chance to lead WVU to an upset of the Sooners.

Although this isn’t based on any known formula, I figured West Virginia might have a 2% chance of winning the game. That same formula, which exists only in my mind, would have given a Grier led Mountaineer team about a 20% chance. The point is, beating the Sooners in Norman was only going to happen for WVU with some sort of cosmic intervention.

So, the biggest news going into the game from the national media’s perspective was Sooners coach Lincoln Riley’s suspension of quarterback Baker Mayfield. The Heisman frontrunner was caught on camera at Kansas a week earlier grabbing his crotch and gesturing to the Jayhawk fans. Add to that a disorderly conduct arrest in the offseason and his postgame antics following a big early season win over Ohio State in Columbus, and even some of the local Sooner beat writers were calling for him to be benched, because of his behavior.

I don’t know whom outside of the Oklahoma program knew what Mayfield’s suspension would entail, but I wasn’t privy to it. For all we knew it could have been a play, a series, a quarter or a half. It was clear that Mayfield would play at some point.

So the ESPN coverage begins and not unpredictably announcers Steve Levy and Brian Griese spend most of the pre game conversation on Mayfield. The cameras were locked on him in the pre game as well. Turns out Levy and Griese are Mayfield apologists, which I found annoying. I know youthful exuberance comes into play, but come on! Don’t act like what he’s done is okay.

Mayfield’s backup, Kyler Murray, started the game and ran for 66 yards to the WVU four-yard line on his first play. OU scored on the next play. Even though the Sooners scored in two plays, Mayfield got as much camera time prancing on the sidelines as anyone on the field received. That was annoying.

It only got worse from there. So, it turns out Mayfield’s suspension was only for that initial series. Personally, that didn’t bother me, I expected as much. Plus, except for his disorderly conduct arrest in February, his recent transgressions haven’t been illegal. Childish, perhaps, and unbecoming of a Heisman frontrunner might apply. Anyway, Mayfield and the Sooners continued to dominate the WVU defense, scoring on their first nine possessions.

While it was still early in the 59-31 rout the cameras remained dedicated to Mayfield on the sidelines which gave Levy and Griese even more opportunities to comment on how well behaved he was being. Essentially they were commending him for simply behaving like he’s supposed to. That was very annoying, and even more annoying when Mayfield was seen mouthing at one of the WVU ball boys on the Sooner sideline and the act was not mentioned.

So much for Mayfield. He’s a very good player and deserving of the Heisman if the voters decide to give it to him. I was more annoyed at the ineptitude of the West Virginia defense that had no clue on how to stop the Sooners. The only time in the first 45 minutes they kept OU out of the end zone was at the end of the first half when West Virginia fumbled a reverse attempt on a kickoff return and Oklahoma didn’t have any time left to get into the end zone and kicked a field goal.

Few things in athletics bother me more than players getting in other players faces. Occasional flare-ups aren’t what I’m talking about. It’s when they occur play after play when it just looks bad. It looks even worse the aggressors are the ones getting their butts kicked up and down the field, yet there were the Mountaineers, mostly the defense, out there trash talking. That was a bad look and totally annoying.

Before departing, kudos go to offensive coordinator Jake Spavital, and whomever else devised the use of Kennedy McKoy in the Wildcat formation for this game. It worked early, and for a quarter WVU had a chance to keep pace with the Sooner offense. Alas, the Mountaineers drove it right into the Sooner red zone on their first two possessions and the result was a field goal and a lost fumble.

On the third trip West Virginia scored a touchdown to make the score 21-10, but the subsequent onside kick was recovered just short of the required 10 yards, giving Oklahoma the ball at the WVU 44. That was the last chance West Virginia had to stay in the game.

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