Not too long ago, we wondered aloud about the running game. Why had our numbers dipped? What was the root cause? Turns out, the lack of success was noted by more than just the BGP brain trust. It was noted by App’s new beat writer Ethan Joyce at the Winston-Salem Journal and most importantly, the Mountaineer coaches. To summarize, the Apps were running the ball less, nearly twelve fewer runs per game and game plans shifted toward the wildly successful play of the young wide receivers.
This past week the Mountaineers stuck with the run game to the tune of 350 rushing yards in the win over New Mexico State. On the other hand, all the extra focus on the running game may have had an adverse effect on the passing game. As a team, the Mountaineers passed for 75 yards, but just 48 of those yards came from quarterback Taylor Lamb. It was the worst game of his career as far as throwing the ball is concerned, and I’m not mentioning that to be rude or hateful, because he would tell you that himself. However, you would be surprised to know that it wasn’t the first time that Lamb failed to reach the century mark, but the first time it had happened since 2015 against Idaho.
It was actually the seventh time in Lamb’s career that he failed to throw for 100 yards in a game in which he appeared. Oddly, App’s record was still 5-2 in those games, and the only losses were to Michigan and Clemson. He didn’t start against Michigan or Campbell, one of the other games where he didn’t throw for 100 yards, but he didn’t need to, in the 66-0 beating of the Camels. That’s three games we have mentioned. The other four games were all Mountaineer wins. The Georgia State snow game of 2014, and the tropical storm homecoming win over Wyoming in 2015 headlined that group. Also, the Jalin Moore coming out party at Idaho in 2015 and this past weekend’s win over New Mexico State were also included in the seven games in which Taylor Lamb threw for less than 100 yards in game.
Unfortunately, another ugly statistic popped up on Saturday; interceptions. Yeah I know, we took six passes away from new Mexico State ourselves, and if there was going to be a day to throw two interceptions, Saturday was it. Similarly, Lamb has only thrown two or more interceptions on just a handful of occasions throughout his career. Six times to be exact, and three such times happened during his freshman year, which is understandable. The Apps lost all three of those games in 2014, to Southern Miss, Georgia Southern, and Liberty. It happened again versus Clemson in 2015, also a loss. But, the last two occasions, Georgia Southern in 2016 and this past Saturday vs New Mexico State, were both App wins.
Luckily, throwing for 100 yards in a game isn’t exactly a key indicator to success, but is noticeable considering Lamb already has hit 300 yards in a game twice this season. The interceptions, I’m less concerned about on a whole, but its incredibly rare to have both occurrences in one game. It had only happened once before, against Clemson, and they turned out be national runners-up in the 2015 season.