Defensive penalties won’t slow Mountaineers passing attack

FORT WORTH, TX - OCTOBER 07: Marcus Simms
FORT WORTH, TX - OCTOBER 07: Marcus Simms /

The Mountaineers have one of the best passing offenses in the country. The competition in the Big 12 Conference knows this and still can’t slow the team down.

Other teams, like TCU and Texas Tech, have taken to drawing pass interference penalties when playing the Mountaineers. The 15-yard penalty that ends up being called might be better than a long gain of 30-plus yards that Will Grier and his receivers routinely record.

In a recent article on, Director of Digital Media John Antonik points out that in the past three games, 10 pass interference penalties have been called against the Mountaineers’ opponents. Kansas, TCU and Texas Tech have been penalized more in those three games than some teams are penalized for an entire season, Antonik points out.

Maybe it’s a tactic the Mountaineers are looking for. Will Grier’s arm is so strong, that maybe he can afford to take a risk and throw into double coverage. Chances are his talented receivers, like Gary Jennings, David Sills, Ka’Raun White and Marcus Simms, are going to catch it. Or, maybe they’re able to draw a pass interference penalty which still helps the offense moving forward.

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Currently, there are three Big 12 quarterbacks in the top 10 in the nation in total passing yards. Will Grier is ninth nationally with 2,092 yards, Texas Tech’s Nic Shimonek is eighth with 2,134 yards and Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph is second with 2,368 yards.

The same three quarterbacks are responsible for their teams also being in the top 10 in passing offense per game. The Mountaineers are No. 6 at 362.2 yards per game, the Red Raiders are No. 5 at 376 yards per game and the Cowboys are No. 1 in the nation at 411.2 yards per game.

Last week, Will Grier outdueled Nic Shimonek in yards, 352-323; touchdowns, 5-4; and completions, 32-24. They both threw an interception, but Grier definitely stood out more, especially in leading the valiant comeback and helping the Mountaineer score 22 points in the fourth quarter.

The Mountaineers were aided by seven first downs that came by way of penalties against the Red Raiders. Texas Tech was penalized for a total of 159 yards, compared to just 93 yards of penalties committed by the Mountaineers.

The production of the West Virginia offense speaks for itself. The Mountaineers are statistically one of the best teams in the country. They have the talent to compete with every team in the Big 12.

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Every team in the Big 12 can only slow down the Mountaineers by committing pass interference penalties. It might become a popular strategy as the year moves on.