#24 Texas Tech Red Raiders vs West Virginia Mountaineers
Mountaineer Field at Milan Puskar Stadium, Morgantown, WV
Score: #24 Texas Tech (35), West Virginia (46)
1. Will Grier bounces back in a big way with stellar second-half performance.
I was ready to write how Grier disappointed against another ranked opponent after an incredibly difficult first two quarters, but in the second half, the script completely flipped. He went from flailing against pressure to standing in the pocket and delivering strikes at all three levels of the field. His gunslinger style is what gets him in trouble in terms of decision making, but he just picked apart Texas Tech’s secondary.
With only nine incompletions on 41 attempts for 352 yards and five touchdowns, Grier made up for a stagnant running game, a situation that has not come up this season. This was a much-needed bounce back performance.
2. For the first time this season, Justin Crawford looked like a limited runner and was bottled up.
For how explosive West Virginia’s offense looked in the second half of this game, Justin Crawford surprisingly had his worst game of the season statistically. He failed to reach 100 yards rushing for the first time this year, gaining only 47 yards on 14 carries.
Some will make the case that West Virginia abandoned the run after a big deficit, but before then, Crawford was bottled up by the Texas Tech defense. He looked sluggish and indecisive on cutting up north-south. Crawford usually wins with vision and patience, but he looked hesitant and slow. Combine that with his continued inability to help in the passing game is a recipe for a downward draft stock spiral.
3. Dylan Cantrell needs to be squarely on the NFL Draft radar, if he is not already.
Dylan Cantrell? More like Dez Cantrell to West Virginia cornerback Elijah Battle. Whether it was a back shoulder fade or a slant, Cantrell outmuscled Battle all day long in man coverage.
He had eight catches for 85 yards and a touchdown, but his impact was also felt on downfield stalk blocks as well. At 6’3, 220, Cantrell is a big possession receiver with reliable hands and good play strength. He displayed all of these traits on Saturday, and I’m sure NFL scouts were buzzing after his performance.
4. Kyzir White continues to make big plays in big games, reinforcing his status as a legitimate strong safety prospect.
West Virginia’s defense got torched by Nic Shimonek in the first half, but one of the key catalysts to the Mountaineers’ comeback was senior safety Kyzir White. He made key tackles down the stretch near the LOS to halt Tech’s drives, but everyone is going to remember that he closed the game on an interception to cap the comeback.
West Virginia plays White a lot like Duke played Jeremy Cash, but it is evident that White’s coverage traits and ball skills translate much better to the next level.
5. Texas Tech QB Nic Shimonek and West Virginia FS Dravon Askew-Henry are the two prospects who lost the most from this game.
Nic Shimonek was on fire to start the game, but other than their kicker, he was a key player to blame for the dramatic letdown in the second half. When a team scores 29 unanswered points, especially against an air raid offense like Tech, the opposing offense’s efforts must have been futile. His statistics are inflated from his first half performance, but when the Red Raiders needed him to deliver on third down to keep the drive alive, Shimonek failed.
Any buzz that was surrounding him as a potential draft prospect dissipated Saturday afternoon.
On the flip side, one West Virginia player committed too many unforgivable errors on defense. This player is Dravon Askew-Henry. He is lucky his teammates bailed him out in this comeback because he would have been one of the main scapegoats for this loss.
On the first TJ Vasher touchdown, Askew-Henry took one of the worst angles I have seen this season, not even taking into account that Vasher was going to go upfield. On the second Vasher touchdown, Askew-Henry was nowhere to be found because he bit underneath as the deep middle player, leaving a great one-on-one matchup for the 6’6 Vasher. This was one of those performances that scratch a player off of my watch list, unfortunately.