MORGANTOWN — West Virginia offensive lineman Yodny Cajuste was ejected for throwing a punch after an extra point last week against Texas, a call coach Dana Holgorsen wasn’t fond of when he went back and watched the film.
“Yodny should not have gotten ejected,” Holgorsen said. “They said he threw a punch, which he didn’t. It’s sad for a player of that caliber in a game of that magnitude, to not let him play is a damn shame. But it happened and we had to deal with it.”
Things could have been a lot worse, though, if the Mountaineers’ other starting tackle, junior Colton McKivitz, didn’t have self-control.
Earlier in the game, Texas defensive lineman Charles Omenihu shoved McKivitz in the facemask with what appeared to be the palm of his gloved hand after the whistle — similar to what Cajuste was ejected for later.
McKivitz didn’t flinch or even attempt to retaliate — just a cold stare back at Omenihu and he walked back to the huddle to start the next play.
With the way the game was officiated, if McKivitz did decide to give a shot back, there was a chance he would have been forced to leave the game.
Football is an emotional game and McKivitz understands that, but a philosophy Holgorsen instilled is something he takes pride in and is why he’ll never get caught up in post play dramatics.
“It pretty much all comes down to composure — I’ve always been a play between the whistles kind of guy,” McKivitz said. “If I’m doing by job right, then he’s obviously going to want to retaliate like that. It’s just a heady thing — don’t hurt the team. That was kind of coach Holgorsen’s thing coming into the game, don’t hurt the team. Play with an edge but don’t hurt the team.
“That’s kind of my thing, I’m going to fight you between the whistles but after, I’m just going to go back and get lined up.”
With the offensive game plan going in, losing McKivitz would definitely have hurt the team. The running game, which amassed 232 yards on 33 carries, relied heavily on running to the right side — riding the back of McKivitz.
Both of Martell Pettaway’s touchdowns, including his 55-yarder, were with McKivitz leading the way.
“We knew that they were going to be in an odd front and Colton is very good at that type of block,” offensive coordinator Jake Spavital said. “He actually blocked two guys on that touchdown run for Pettaway. When it comes down to it where you have the option either way, we like to go behind Colton.”
Even McKivitz knows and appreciates that the play-calling is based around what he’s been able to do in the running game. Even his voice on the sideline is being heard by Spavital.
“It’s a nice thing to get that responsibility and a few time I’ve come off, I’ve said to ‘run right,’ ” McKivitz said. “I have the confidence in myself and (Isaiah) Hardy, if he’s there, or Chase (Behrndt), whichever guard is there with me. I have confidence in those guys next to me to make sure our double-teams are key and our single blocks are pushing guys out of the way.
“That way, Kennedy (McKoy), Pettaway or (Alec) Sinkfield can cut under there and make a big run, which Pett did Saturday.”