Horns Down: Three Thoughts After a Thriller in Austin

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three thoughts after a thriller in Austin
AUSTIN, TX - NOVEMBER 03: The West Virginia Mountaineers celebrate after winning the game against the Texas Longhorns at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium on November 3, 2018 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)

Horns down. Flash that symbol at your own risk. At least, that is the first of our three thoughts after a thriller in Austin, sort of. The West Virginia Mountaineers won a close game 42-41 to escape its second top-25 matchup in the state of Texas with a win.

Big 12 Referees Are a Farce

The game against Texas provided more proof to Mountaineer fans that the Big 12 referees are a farce. Time and time again, they seek to prove they will have big impacts on Big 12 conference games. They did so several times in Austin.

First, the referees called an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against David Sills for flashing the horns down symbol after a touchdown reception. It was a momentary celebration lasting all of a second. But it drew a penalty. This drew a penalty.

On the extra point, the referees then threw Yodny Cajuste out of the game for an open handed push. That was a bit of an overreaction. But the referees called no penalty at all on this play:

There were certainly more bad calls, but this should support the point adequately. The Big 12 referees are a farce. That is a problem.

Dana Holgorsen Deserves More Respect

Will Grier threwย a pinpoint touchdown bomb to Gary Jennings with 0:16 left in the game. Then, Head Coach Dana Holgorsen decided to go for a two-point conversion. And he stuck with his gut. He made the same call three times in a row. After the first decision, Texas called a timeout after seeing West Virginia’s alignment.

Then, Texas Head Coach Tom Herman called a timeout immediately before the snap. He got a free look at the play Holgorsen had drawn up. The Mountaineers had trips bunched to the right and Sills had a one-on-one matchup to the left. Sills runs a simple slant. Too easy. The Mountaineers convert. But the timeout came in just before the snap, and Holgorsen had a decision to make.

Holgorsen is spotted on the sideline mouthing to his players, “You want to win the game? Let’s go win the game.” He makes the same decision the third time. Formation is almost identical. Trips bunched to the right, with Sills lined up to the left. Sills runs a fade. Grier looks at Sills. The fade draws the defender into the corner of the end zone, and Grier trots in to convert. The Mountaineers take a 42-41 lead into the final kickoff.

Especially at halftime, the usual chorus of Holgorsen detractors lit up social media. The team was blowing it. It was a “typical” Holgorsen team. Their conference championship aspirations were over. The team made adjustments at the half, and the Mountaineers kept within striking distance. Holgorsen knew the score, and he knew the environment.ย And he risked his job three times to hand his team (and fans) the win. He deserves those fans’ respect.

Will Grier has Three Consecutive Heisman Moments

Speaking of respect, Mountaineer fans in general had also abandoned any hopes that Grier would be invited to New York for the Heisman ceremony. Indeed, everybody seems to be playing for second place to Tua Tagovailoa this season, but the trip to New York is an honor itself worth pursuing. It seems Grier has never abandoned the hope.

Here is his first Heisman moment of the game.

This pass is a perfect throw over Gary Jennings‘ shoulder. Grier even throws it jumping off of his front foot. Only Jennings had a shot at the ball, and all Jennings had to do was maintain his stride and hang on. This throw all but ties the game.

But then Grier throws a precise bullet to Sills on the first attempted two-point conversion. Yet another perfect throw, this time to put the Mountaineers ahead. Any error in that throw, of course, costs West Virginia the game. Unfortunately, the effort was wasted, as Herman called a time out just before the snap.

So Grier had the opportunity to do it again. And he did. This time, the Sills’ slant wasย a decoy, and Grier scampered into the end zone to convert for two. The Mountaineers take the lead 42-41, for real this time. Here is the play:

By the way, the play might look familiar. It was essentially the same play Grier was hurt on last season against Texas.

Talk about poetic. Kelby Wickline, by the way, is responsible for the block that sprung Grier to the end zone. Wickline replaced Cajuste after he was tossed from the game. We questioned earlier this week whether the Mountaineers would avenge their loss to the Longhorns last season, and the theme was apt.

Main Photo:
Embed from Getty Images

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