I know what you’re thinking. It was only one bad game. True, but I think the word abysmal works better as a description of Skyler Howard’s performance. I’m not necessarily saying it’s time to put in Crest, however, I am saying that it’s time to start thinking about it. First off, let’s look at the reasons for writing an article about this possibility.
Skyler Howard entered Saturday’s game against Oklahoma untested and unscathed. He had the fourth highest quarterback rating in the entire country and only had one turnover that really wasn’t his fault. He looked solid. For the most part, his passes were on target and he was making smart decisions with the ball.
But, against Oklahoma everything changed. Not only did he have five turnovers, he also couldn’t locate a throw if his life depended on it. Most of his passes went high, which is like Christmas for defensive backs, he made very poor decisions running in the pocket, save his one touchdown run, and he had no perception of where the blitz was coming from. Many times Howard actually helped out the defense by running into their arms on the blitz. No matter how good your first few games are, when you have a performance like this against your first real challenge, it’s time to start asking questions.
It may not sound like it, but I don’t think there’s any way you don’t start Howard against Oklahoma State. He has been given the reigns and there is a chance the game against Oklahoma was just a fluke. That being said, William Crest should be ready to go. If Howard puts up a first half that is reminiscent of the Oklahoma game, Crest should start the second half. This game against Oklahoma State is a must win if West Virginia wants any hope of winning the Big 12 or just having a season that is above average.
The reason I’m so emphatic that West Virginia needs to be considering this is because this team has huge potential. They have a solid defense. Now that defense did allow 34 points (not counting the defensive TD or FG that was because of Howard’s fumble), but those points were made by bonehead plays on the defense’s part that are easily fixed. Also the offensive line shocked me against Oklahoma and had a very solid game, especially in run blocking where Wendell Smallwood and Rushel Shell looked very efficient. Just imagine how much better they would have been if the passing game was better?
We also know that WVU is loaded with young receiver talent. Shelton Gibson has obviously improved his catching ability and Durante is a deep threat on every play. Not to mention the consistency that Daikiel Shorts brings to the receiving core. This team has serious potential so let’s not get bogged down in the safe thing to do and let’s start considering this right now. The potential is just too great.
In fairness, William Crest hasn’t exactly been setting the world on fire when he comes into games during garbage time. But, anything is better than the Howard we saw against Oklahoma. This season is an unusual one for West Virginia. Everything on this team either was clicking against Oklahoma or made mistakes that are easily fixable; everything except Skyler Howard.
His performance showed no signs of hope. If Crest can come in and just be average, this could be a special season for West Virginia. That is why I am writing this article now instead of multiple weeks down the road. If the quarterback position plays well then West Virginia will be an extremely tough “W” for other teams for the rest of the season. So let’s not start considering this when it is too late. Crest should be ready to play against Oklahoma State if Howard continues to struggle like he did last week.
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