Football, Sports, WVU Sports

WVU football notebook: Texas pulls out bag of tricks against West Virginia; Evan Staley’s struggles continue

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — It’s not often you see a 6-foot-7, 300-pounder get a chance to run in open space on a football field, but Texas left tackle Samuel Cosmi got that chance against West Virginia on Saturday.

With the Longhorns trying to pull away in the fourth quarter, coach Tom Herman went to his bag of tricks after WVU quartback Austin Kendall threw his fourth interception of the game, trying to throw the gut punch to the Mountaineers.

At the Mountaineers’ 12-yard line, Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger rolled right looking toward the end zone, but turned quickly to his blind side and fired the ball to Cosmi, who was originally lined up as a blocker on the offensive line.

Cosmi, who was behind the line of scrimmage, was eligible to touch the ball since it was a backward pass. He caught it and rumbled up the sideline for a touchdown that put the Longhorns up 35-17.

The play is designed specifically for Cosmi, since it was named after his high school offensive coordinator Todd Moses at Atascocita High in Humble, Texas.

The play, called “Moses” was designed and practiced about five times during game prep, according to Cosmi. Moses texted Cosmi before the game and told him, “Don’t screw it up.”

Needless to say, Cosmi executed it to perfection, getting into the end zone fore the first time since rec league football.

“I never scored one in high school,” Cosmi said.

For WVU’s defense on the play, coach Neal Brown wasn’t thrilled with his unit’s lack of awareness on the play, though he also didn’t sound happy that two potential blocks in the back calls weren’t made.

“We had two guys misplay it,” Brown said. “Good for them — they executed it well. I thought we may have got … well, I better not say it, I’d have to see it on film. We had two guys completely MA’d (missed assignment) on the play. I don’t remember as a staff giving up many throw-backs or reverses or anything like that. Usually, we play really disciplined football and we have two guys behind the play. But that wasn’t the case on that one.”

Turning point

WVU cornerback Keith Washington continued his stellar season when he intercepted Ehlinger in the third quarter, returning the ball to the Texas 28-yard line. A personal foul penalty made it half the distance to the goal, so the Mountaineers took over at the Texas 14 with a chance to tie it at 21-21.

Instead, the Mountaineers had a negative run, a dropped pass and a catch for just four yards, and were forced to kick a field goal to make it 21-17.

That was the closest WVU got the rest of the game.

Herman thought that defensive possession was the turning point in the game.

“They missed two and made one,” he said. “Those are huge, especially after the turnover. That could have been a huge momentum swing if we’d let them score a touchdown, but we held them to a field goal. That was a real important stop in the game.”

Staley’s stale game

Two weeks after being named Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Week because of his performance at Kansas, WVU kicker Evan Staley had a game he’d like to forget against Texas.

He missed a 36-yarder that would have given the Mountaineers the lead in the second quarter, and then missed another from 47 yards out on the last play of the field half.

Staley is down to just 58% (7 of 12) on field goal attempts this season — he was at 86% as a freshman in 2017 and 80% last year as a sophomore.

While leg strength doesn’t appear to be the problem, with the ball making it to the crossbar, Staley is only 2 of 6 between 40-49 yards. He’s 2 of 3 between 30-39 and 3 for 3 between 20-29.