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WVU notebook: Tech's Amaro lives up to lofty billing

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - All week long, West Virginia's coaches and players spoke of the need to make sure that Jace Amaro didn't beat them when the Mountaineers played Texas Tech.

Saying it and doing it just aren't the same, however.

Amaro, Tech's ultra-talented junior tight end, caught nine passes for 136 yards and two touchdowns as the No. 16 Red Raiders beat West Virginia 37-27 Saturday at Mountaineer Field.

That came a year after Amaro had caught five passes for 156 yards before leaving the game with an injured knee that would keep him out the second half of the season.

If the injury Amaro suffered against the Mountaineers last season affected him at all, it doesn't show. He's even better now than he was then.

"We can't cover him,'' WVU coach Dana Holgorsen said. "And even when you do cover him he still makes plays.''

West Virginia tried it both ways Saturday - covering and not covering him. Amaro's first of two touchdown receptions came in the first quarter when he split tight coverage at the line, a miscommunication left him open in the end zone and he caught a 10-yard pass from freshman Davis Webb.

And then there were the other times, like on Tech's fourth-quarter drive to take the lead when he caught a pass in tight coverage, bounced off one tackler and then fairly dragged linebacker Tyler Anderson the last 10 yards of a 37-yard gain.

"He said to put it on his shoulders in the second half,'' Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury said. "When [WVU] went up by 11 [27-16], the ball went to him and he kept making plays.''

To kick or not to kick

In the big picture it wound up not mattering, but in the first quarter Holgorsen made a bizarre decision.

Facing fourth down at the Tech 26 and trailing 10-0, Holgorsen eschewed a field goal attempt and went for the first down. That wouldn't have been unusual except that it was fourth-and-14.

"Yeah, I regretted that,'' Holgorsen said, admitting it wasn't the smart thing to do. "We were moving the ball. The penalties just kept backing us up. I should have kicked it. I just felt good about moving the ball.''

In his postgame press conference, Holgorsen referred to the situation as fourth-and-2. He also referenced what would have been a 48- or 49-yard field goal. Both were clearly wrong. The down and distance was unmanageable and the field goal would have been 43 yards, well within Josh Lambert's range.

As a matter of clarification later, though, offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson was asked about the series. He insisted that both he and Holgorsen understood the down-and-distance and the field goal range and that Holgorsen had merely misspoken.

Briefly

  • While West Virginia's schedule certainly doesn't get dramatically easier now, the run of unbeaten, nationally ranked opponents is over. All four of WVU's Big 12 opponents to date have been undefeated and in the Top 25. Beginning with next Saturday's 3:45 p.m. game at Kansas State, the Mountaineers' five remaining foes had a combined 18 losses as of Saturday afternoon.
  • Nick O'Toole didn't have his best day thanks to a couple of less-than-perfect punts, but he still averaged 42.6 yards, had two downed inside the 20 and had his 16th punt of 50 yards or more this season. Of his 43 punts this season, 15 have been fair caught and only two have gone into the end zone for touchbacks.
  • Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickman1@aol.com or follow him at Twitter.com/dphickman1.

     

     


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