5 Things We Learned In West Virginia’s Win

1 of 6

5 Things We Learned In West Virginia

Mountaineers
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The West Virginia Mountaineers started a new era on Sunday. It seemed like every single person on this team was new. They had to replace every single skill position and the quarterback. Last week was not the best showing in the school's history. For the first time in a long time, the Mountaineers have to deal with a transition year.

On Saturday, they took on an FCS school in William and Mary. They tried to do something that fellow Big 12 school Kansas State did the night before -- beat an FBS school. In what was supposed to be nothing more than a fluffer game, the Mountaineers needed 17 unanswered points to beat a school they were supposed to beat by 17. They ended up winning the game on a play in which a blatant holding call was missed by the referees. It seems that the game plan needed some time to really work.

The first half and the second half looked like two totally different games. It looked like four totally different teams. There were plenty of questions going into this game. They never even named a starting quarterback.

In the second year in a new conference, the Mountaineers really needed to come out of the gate quickly, but they didn't. They still came out with a seven-point win, but their opponent wasn't supposed to be in their league. In fact, this team was literally not in their league. They have Oklahoma next, and they are considerable underdogs. Lets see what are the five things we learned from the 24-17 win on Saturday.

2 of 6

5. Need To Stop Third-Down Conversions

Mountaineers
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

It seemed like the West Virginia defense played very well on first and second down, but third down is when all the big plays came. When they had a chance in the first half to put the ball back in the offense's hands, they seemed to allow the Tribe to stay on the field and continue their drive. The Tribe scored both of their touchdowns on on third-down plays. They could have had eight points taken off the board, and they would have been in much better shape for most of the games. They also need to stay away from the big play in general. Twice they allowed a pass of over 25 yards that put them inside their opponent's five-yard line. If they can keep themselves away from those plays this season, then they will look much better than first thought.

3 of 6

4. Dana Holgorsen Made One Heck Of A Halftime Speech

Mountaineers
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Mountaineers went into halftime down 17-7. They looked listless and down on themselves. They came out of the tunnel for the second half looking like a totally different team. You have seen this before, most notably last year against Oklahoma. After being down 31-17 at halftime, the Mountaineers came back and lost by one point (and in case you were curious, there was a miffed extra point try). You can't rule this team out. They may not have the most talented team, but they seem to really have their coach Dana Holgorsen's back.

4 of 6

3. Missing The Playmaking Ability of Tavon Austin, Stedman Bailey and Geno Smith

Mountaineers
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

When West Virginia was down, they really needed a big play to get them back into it. Before this year, they only needed to give the ball to Tavon Austin and everything else just came easily. Then throw in the fact that teams had to watch Geno Smith, and their second receiver was a matchup nightmare. Until players like Kevin White, Daikiel Shorts and K.J. Myers can really come into their own in this offense, there will always be whispers of skill players of the past. When you lose 41 total touchdowns in one season between Austin and Stedman Bailey, your fans aren't going to just move on to your next crop of players. Then add the loss of your quarterback, and the team will have plenty of questions that need to be answers to keep the population of Morgantown happy.

5 of 6

2. Paul Millard Needs To Be The Sole Quarterback

Mountaineers
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Clint Trickett played two series for the Mountaineers on Sunday. The favorite to win the starting job looked like anything but. Paul Millard started the game, and thank goodness he also finished it. Even though Millard had a costly fumble, he managed the game very well and made certain throws in the second half. Trickett just seemed like he didn't have a hold of this offense. Millard went 19-of-25 for 237 yards and a touchdown. Trickett missed both of his passes in his two drives, and led his team to five total yards. The team needs to continue to give it to the hot hand of Mallard, and they shouldn't do a timeshare.

6 of 6

1. Charles Sims Is Going To Be Very Good For The Mountaineers

Mountaineers
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Charles Sims was the man this game. He ran the ball 23 times for 120 yards. He definitely stood out in a crowded, but extremely talented backfield. The Houston transfer may be the best player on the team. If the Mountaineers want to be upset candidate this weekend, they need this guy to be perfect. Wendell Smallwood is another player to keep your eye on, but Sims is the guy that this offense should be built around.

Around the Web