In an alternate universe, there is a world where everyone is three feet tall, movies last only an hour, and shirts are worn the way Ezekiel Elliot likes to wear them. In this universe everything is cut in half, I’m willing to bet Kliff Kingsbury and company wish they were in that universe on Saturday. The Red Raiders had fans thinking that Tech were championship contenders to fans wondering if Tech can still make bowl eligibility. Truth is, the answer is somewhere in the middle. This game was a game to show where the program is and once again the players and coaching staff showed the potential of where they could be in the first half, but showed the state of where they currently are in the second.
The defense was no exception as Gibbs’ group held the high power Mountaineer offense to only 17 points through the first 38 minutes of the game. However from that point on, the wheels fell off as West Virginia scored four touchdowns to close the game.
Once again Mychealon Thomas and Broderick Washington were forces in the middle. The duo on the inside along with the linebacking duo have been models of consistency all year. The two of them combined for eight tackles and a sack and made it very difficult for West Virginia to get anything going rushing the ball inside. Eli Howard was set to have a monster game until WVU Defensive Coordinator Joe DeForest decided to take him out of the game by constantly double teaming. In doing so, the Mountaineers were able to slow down Howard’s production, although Kolin Hill was able to pick up some slack. This unit did what they were supposed to do, but not enough towards the end when it was needed most.
The other duo that has been consistent has been Dakota Allen and Jordyn Brooks. They once again proved to be the two best players on this defense as they each had a pass deflection and combined for 14 tackles, including one for loss. They were influential in shutting down West Virginia's run game as the Mountaineers only had 44 rushing yards total. For the second game this year, this group will be asking themselves what more could they have done, as they played a good game.
Want to know how a game can turn in the other teams favor quickly? Commit three pass interference penalties in one drive. That drive began the comeback for West Virginia and each of them couldn’t have come at worse times. Gibbs, a secondary coach by trade, will have to work with each player on their technique this week as those penalties were HUGE (as well as one that happened on another WVU touchdown drive later on). One player he won’t have to worry about as much is Desmon Smith. Smith had arguably his bets game of the season with three tackles, a pass deflection, and an interception. Jah’Shawn Johnson was another victim of an earlier PI penalty, but he also had a decent game, however his ball hawking ability was nowhere to be found in the second half. This unit got absolutely gashed by arguably the best receiving core in the Big 12. Standout receiver David Sills V did most of his damage after halftime as did Ka’raun White as they each had two second half touchdowns. This defense will live and die by their secondary play and on Saturday it died hard.