Miami inflicts another bowl loss in Florida
Down another sandy path to a bowl loss for the Mountaineers. There were 25 days between games. Preparation for the Russell Athletic Bowl with no classes and supposedly no distractions.
West Virginia’s already loss-stained bowl history became a little more lackluster when Miami stumped the Mountaineer offense and got four touchdown passes from Brad Kaaya to breeze to a 31-14 win in the Orlando bowl game.
After spotting West Virginia a 7-0 lead, the Hurricanes used three Kaaya touchdown passes in the second quarter to ride off at halftime with a comfortable lead.
There were only 11 first downs, only 14 points and only 229 yards of total offense against the dominant Miami defense.
West Virginia’s offensive line was outplayed. The front three of the 3-3-5 defense couldn’t impact the game after Miami’s first six offensive possessions.
And the obvious difference between quarterbacks Kaaya and Skyler Howard was too much for the Mountaineers to overcome.
Kaaya was leading the pack to Miami’s fifth straight win of the season and a 9-4 overall record.
Howard had 134 passing yards ran for 32 yards on 14 carries, lost an early fumble and was mostly ineffective from beginning to end in the shortfall.
Howard had been less than sensational in a close regular season win over a stumbling Baylor team. And his evening of little offense couldn’t be overcome.
West Virginia’s game plan seemed to shout its intent to stay away from relying on Howard to be enough. Why else did the Mountaineers decide from the beginning to run so much?
Howard gives off a distinct light that says his imprint on the game is the most important thing to him. But his quickness is hard to find and his throwing is not going to scare an opponent — like Miami — into worrying much about his effect on the game. He might be sold on himself but most opponents aren’t impressed.
The Mountaineers finished with a 10-3 record that included a 7-2 mark in Big 12 games. Looking ahead to next season, West Virginia will open the 2017 season with a neutral field squabble against the Hokies of Virginia Tech. The game is at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland.
Tickets will be steep in price and since it’s a game signed, sealed and delivered by network television the profits for both the schools are already guaranteed.
WVU coach Dana Holgorsen signed a five-year contract extension just after the Baylor game in early December.
Recruiting the sands and swaying palm trees of Florida begins almost immediately and some already-signed recruits will be coming to school in January so they can participate in spring football practice.
The Mountaineers still have won only two bowl games played in Florida in the long history of West Virginia football. They were in no danger of getting a third win against Miami.