The Mountaineers have had a chance to win every game they’ve played so far this year.
What has ultimately cost the Mountaineers these games? Well, mistakes early in the contests against Virginia Tech and TCU forced the WVU football team into bad positions at crunch time. With the pressure on, the Mountaineers haven’t been able to deliver at the last second.
Against Virginia Tech, quarterback Will Grier methodically led his team down the field only to have a potential game-tying pass slip through the fingers of David Sills in the end zone. Against TCU, Grier couldn’t complete three deep passes in a row as the Mountaineers turned the ball over on downs in the closing minutes.
It would have been interesting to see what the Mountaineers could have done on their final drive of the fourth quarter had Sills not been flagged for an awful pass interference call that puzzled Sills, according to WV MetroNews.
The TCU defense made it difficult for Grier to get anything going after that. The call seemed to deflate the Mountaineers and there was no moving on from it. But that’s exactly what the team has to do now. They understand where they have to get better, but the question remains on how the Mountaineers should execute their plays to pull out victories.
Head coach Dana Holgorsen addressed this question of execution at his weekly press conference via WVUsports.com.
"We need to make a few corrections and improve in specific areas. It felt the same way at Virginia Tech. I said the same thing after Virginia Tech. If we get in that situation again, let’s get to a point where we can win that game. We didn’t unfortunately, which means that we need to continue to practice and continue to improve."
Holgorsen also said he anticipates the Mountaineers being in similar close positions for the remainder of the season. With so much parity in the Big 12 Conference, any team can beat any team on any given day. Every team seems to be in the hunt to play in the conference title game, so winning the close games is what could turn a program in a positive or negative direction.
The Mountaineers have failed in their first two challenges in this close position. If they get in a similar tussle with Texas Tech this week, the answer should be clear on how they need to execute their final drive.
Will Grier needs to find his open receivers. Against TCU, that seemed to work deep with post routes. But if short gains are needed late in the fourth quarter, this is when some passes to the running backs, that Holgorsen wants to see, should come into play.
The Mountaineers are literally just two or three plays away from being 5-0 and ranked in the top five in the country. With seven games to play, little plays will end up being big turning points.