Not sure what West Virginia University's football players were expecting from Liberty last Saturday, but there were plenty of fans who left the stadium scratching their collective heads following the Mountaineers' 33-20 season opening win. That is because Liberty put up a good fight with some players who are clearly pretty good.
I know, when I saw the game on the schedule I viewed it as a nuisance game, and still do to a degree, but what I didn't know is that Liberty has 27 Division 1 transfers. That includes quarterback Tommy Beecher who started at South Carolina last year. Beecher and receiver Mike Brown will be among the best players WVU will face this season. If those two guys stay healthy, Liberty should do very well against the remainder of their schedule.
How well West Virginia does the rest of the way is not clear. Answers will be forthcoming this weekend when East Carolina comes to Morgantown. Using Liberty as a guide we know several things.
Quarterback Jarrett Brown can get the ball to receivers in a hurry, that is once he finds them. It might just be me, but it looked like Brown was slow to spot open receivers, and rarely hit a receiver on a break. This will likely not be too big an issue. Brown is a very talented passer and he has some receivers to throw to. Against Liberty he had time to throw as well. Improvement in the passing game should be quick.
Pass blocking looked good, but run blocking may be a little behind, it's hard to evaluate after this game. Noel Devine did get 112 yards on 17 carries, but most of the time he had very little running room. Give him another block or two and he gets a lot more yards. Another consideration with the offense, as a whole, is that the coaches likely did not show very much of it.
One thing that was on display was the kickoff coverage, or lack of it. A unit which was ranked in the bottom 10 last year seems to be headed in that direction again. I don't know how to fix it, but opposing coaches sure know how to attack the coverage. Coverage improved when WVU began kicking short toward the sideline around the 20 yard line. That kept the returns from reaching the mid field area. This is a scary situation if you are a West Virginia fan.
It is hard to judge the defense. The pitch and catch combination of Beecher and Brown had WVU on its heels at times and won time of possession. Again, more answers to come.C