WVU QB Howard: Focus is ‘full go’ on No. 21 Oklahoma State
One bad game isn’t going to rattle West Virginia quarterback Skyler Howard.
The junior is fixated on No. 21 Oklahoma State, not making up for the mess last week at Oklahoma or figuring out how the Mountaineers are going to survive playing four ranked teams in October.
Howard is determined to help get the Mountaineers (3-1, 0-1 Big 12) back on track when they meet the Cowboys (5-0, 2-0) on Saturday night in Morgantown, West Virginia.
”It’s full go,” he said. ”Right now our guys is attacking the week and attacking it every day like we should be, so I’m feeling pretty good about going into that game.”
Howard had every reason to kick himself after throwing three interceptions and losing two fumbles, one that was returned for a touchdown, in a 44-24 loss to the 10th-ranked Sooners.
He did rally the Mountaineers from a 24-7 halftime deficit with a touchdown pass and a 50-yard scoring run in the third quarter. But both of his fumbles and two interceptions came in the second half, and Oklahoma scored the final 17 points.
Howard watched the game video three times on the plane ride back to Morgantown and three more times on Sunday. He shrugged it off as ”a wake-up call (that) exposed some things that we need to get better at.”
With two road games looming against No. 3 Baylor and No. 2 TCU, Howard sees only opportunity this week, not urgency. Playing Oklahoma State, he said, is round five of a 12-round fight.
Besides, being from Texas, Howard knows how the conference works – and how to put a loss behind him.
”When was the last time that the Big 12 champion was undefeated?” he said. (The answer: Texas in 2009). ”I think if you let it affect you, that shows a lot about what kind of person you are and what kind of team you have.”
West Virginia’s offense had scored more than 40 points per game in starting the season 3-0. But coach Dana Holgorsen refused to single out Howard for what happened at Oklahoma, spreading the blame on the rest of the offense. And he believes Howard’s tendency to overthrow receivers can be fixed.
”He doesn’t get rattled,” Holgorsen said. ”We are missing throws, but it takes a toll on you when you are under pressure like that. He has to continue to settle in the pocket and trust his offensive line. He has to put his eyes where I want him to put his eyes, and he has to throw accurate balls.”
Against Oklahoma State, Howard will be staring across the line of scrimmage at linebacker Jordan Burton, his roommate during Howard’s brief stay at FCS school Stephen F. Austin.
Burton has had an immediate impact with the Cowboys after signing this year out of junior college. He’s the team’s second-leading tackler and has helped Oklahoma State lead the nation both in sacks and tackles for loss.
And Howard, who has been known to take off running, will try to avoid adding to those totals.
”It will be interesting to see him on the other side of the ball,” Howard said.