MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – For the first time this season, WVU (4-3, 2-2 Big 12) lost back-to-back games.
Here are the biggest takeaways from head coach Neal Brown’s postgame comments following his team’s 48-34 loss to Oklahoma State:
The Ollie Gordon show
OSU running back Ollie Gordon was the star of the show Saturday afternoon with 282 rushing yards and four scores. Gordon rushed for 9.7 yards per carry, and he delivered multiple daggers to the heart of WVU’s defense late in the game.
“He had 150 yards in the fourth quarter,” Brown said. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen that. I’ve never been a part of a team to give up 150 yards in a quarter to someone. I don’t know if we tackled him in the fourth quarter.”
Missed tackles were a problem against Houston last week, and that seemed to be the case again Saturday.
“We didn’t fit the runs,” Brown said. “They weren’t do anything special. They were running split zone. That’s probably our first-or-second-most called play here…We just missed a bunch of tackles and ran by the ball.”
Slow starts to both halves
WVU earned just 26 total yards combined in the first two drives of each half on 15 plays during those two time spans. On the other hand, Oklahoma State scored 10 points on its first two drives of the game.
“We started the game really porous on offense, and recovered well after that, but both halves, really,” Brown said. “[We’d] like to have that first drive after halftime back. It wasn’t very good, but I thought we did some good things offensively.”
The WVU offense ended up rushing for 226 yards on the afternoon, which is its highest rushing total against an FBS opponent this season. Part of the reason was because Brown often opted for unbalanced looks on the offensive line. Reserve linemen Nick Malone frequently entered the game as a tight end (wearing No. 88) to give the Mountaineers four blockers on the strong side of the line of scrimmage.
“We tried to put our best people at the point of attack,” Brown said. “I thought we really kept them off-balance. We did some good things…We just wanted to get them uncomfortable.”
Junior running back Justin Johnson Jr. (72 yards, one touchdown) and Greene (117 yards) led WVU in rushing.
The turning points
At the beginning of the fourth quarter up 24-20, WVU held OSU to a punt, but WVU protector Andrew Wilson-Lamp collided with returner Preston Fox with the ball rapidly approaching. The ball tipped off Fox, and the Cowboys recovered at WVU’s 32-yard line.
A few plays later, OSU took its fourth lead of the night.
“We work that twice a week, that very situation, and that’s a hard one for me to explain,” Brown said.
Later in the fourth with WVU down 34-27, WVU had the ball at midfield on fourth-and-short. Brown called a zone-read option, Greene kept the ball, but he was tackled behind the line of scrimmage for a turnover on downs.
The Cowboys scored on the very next play.
“My hunch is pretty good with [Greene], and [I think] he just tried to make a play,” Brown said. “He said, ‘I’m going to make a play,’ and then the end got up-field, and he should’ve handed it…We ran it about three other times and had an explosive run on it.”