WVU’s Holgorsen impressed by Texas Tech’s backup QB
LUBBOCK, Texas — The West Virginia University defense got thrown for a loop not quite halfway through Saturday’s game at Texas Tech.
The Mountaineers prepared all week for Red Raiders freshman quarterback Alan Bowman, and with good reason. Bowman had established himself as the starter after leading Tech to three consecutive wins, including last week’s impressive victory at Oklahoma State.
But that all changed in the second quarter Saturday. Bowman got sandwiched on a hit by WVU defenders Ezekial Rose and Keith Washington and was slow to get up. He stretched and attempted to throw some passes on the sideline, but his day was done.
Enter sophomore Jett Duffey.
In what was nearly a miraculous comeback, Duffey led Texas Tech out of a 35-10 halftime hole and had the ball with a chance to tie the game late in the fourth quarter. Duffey was intercepted by Washington, who returned the pass for a touchdown to give the No. 12 Mountaineers all the cushion they would need to preserve the 42-34 win.
“I was impressed with (Duffey),” WVU head coach Dana Holgorsen said. “He went in in a difficult situation and made some plays, which is not surprising just based on (Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury) doing a good job of coaching whoever the dang quarterback is.”
Duffey threw for 172 yards and a touchdown, although he did toss two interceptions, and ran for 86 yards on 15 carries in the loss for No. 25 Texas Tech.
“It’s hard because we didn’t have any information on (Duffey),” Holgorsen said. “We knew he could run around, and the kid made some good plays, we just didn’t have a whole lot of information on him.”
SIMMS PRODUCING: Marcus Simms continues to be the Mountaineers most consistent receiver, and Holgorsen has certainly noticed.
″(Simms) has just practiced well,” Holgorsen said. “He’s shown flashes of it in the past, but he’s been inconsistent practice-wise. In spring he was inconsistent. In camp, he was consistent. He really practiced well all camp and this is three weeks in a row he’s played better, and the better he plays the more he’s going to get targeted. He’s arguably our top wideout right now, and I think we’ve got a couple of pretty good ones.
“We’ve got to get some other guys to play consistent like that.”
Simms accounted for more than 100 receiving yards for the third straight game, leading WVU with nine receptions for 138 yards. Quarterback Will Grier hit Simms with a bomb down the visitors sideline for a 45-yard touchdown in what was a 28-point first quarter for WVU.
“He was the one that was catching the ball,” WVU offensive coordinator Jake Spavital said. “At one point in the game I was like, ‘Let’s just throw it to ‘8’ every time.’”
Still, as nice as it is for the Mountaineers to get performances like Simms has put up the last few weeks, Spavital said he’d like to see more of that from the rest of the receivers.
“They’re going to have these games and I’ve seen this happen even with the New England Patriots and Tom Brady and their receiving corps,” Spavital said. “It’s just great to see that you have a kid like Marcus and where he’s going to step up and Will feels comfortable throwing to him in these critical downs. Last year it was Gary (Jennings) on all the third downs and David (Sills) periodically throughout the game. We’ve got to make sure we get this fixed and we need all those guys being able to step up to the plate.
“They knew that ‘8’ came to play and they were bracketing him at times, taking him out it. Somehow, Marcus, that kid, gets double coverage and still gets open for Will.”
SOLID SECONDARY: Coming into Saturday’s game, WVU expected its secondary to get tested by the Red Raiders prolific passing attack.
For the most part, the Mountaineers passed the test.
WVU held Texas Tech to 295 yards through the air - well below its season average of 435.8 yards per game - and intercepted the Red Raiders three times. Kenny Robinson got the first two - one each off Bowman and Duffey - before Washington’s late interception for a touchdown sealed the game for the Mountaineers.
Even with starting cornerback Josh Norwood ejected for targeting in the third quarter, Holgorsen said he was mostly pleased with the performance his secondary put on against the Red Raiders.
“Pretty good, all of them,” Holgorsen said. “We’ve got four of them and they keep getting better. We’ve got competition. Hated to see Norwood get ejected like that - we can learn from that, but they’re all four playing good. A game like this and that kind of a deal, you’re going to need all of them to step up and play good and I was happy with how they all did.”