Chip Shots

by Jim Buzzerd

One game at a time

So, the West Virginia University Football team lost to 11th ranked Texas Saturday 42-31 in Morgantown. The Mountaineers did enough things well to pull off the upset, but critical mistakes doomed the Mountaineers upset bid. Atop of the list of mistakes were Mountaineer quarterback Austin Kendall’s four interceptions. Those interceptions had the internet coaches screaming for his job Saturday night.
Take those interceptions away and WVU very likely would have won the game, because when Kendall wasn’t throwing picks he was completing 31 of 46 passes for 367 yards and three touchdowns. Yeah, the Oklahoma transfer had his best day as a Mountaineer and his worst day.  His head coach, Neal Brown, had his back.
“You all are going to want to talk about those interceptions, but that’s the best game he’s played without watching it on tape,” Brown said. “The first interception he threw was his fault. He read the wrong guy. The next three, two of them were in the receivers’ hands and the third one we had the wrong route.”
And if anyone was thinking the Mountaineers might have a quarterback controversy looming, Brown was quick to quash it by again coming to Kendall’s defense.
“He played well, that’s what I’m trying to tell you,” said Brown, voice rising. “We had three interceptions where two of them our guys had a chance and one of them our guy ran the wrong route.
That was Brown’s position after the game, but before he had a chance to watch game film. We’ll know if he changes his tune Tuesday at his weekly press conference. Since it’s Monday I’ll hazard a guess that he’ll determine that two were bad throws and two may have been 50-50 balls that could have been thrown better. I doubt if he’ll say anything detrimental about his quarterback’s play and keep it positive for Kendall.
All in all, it seems like a good thing that we’ve seen that Kendall can play at a good level, and that the coaching staff knows what they need to do to eliminate poor throws.
Next up, Iowa State visits Morgantown this Saturday for a 4 p.m. game on ESPN. The Cyclones appeared to be underachieving this season as they entered last Saturday’s game at 2-2 with TCU.  They needed overtime to beat Northern Iowa at home 29-26 in their opener.  Then they lost to rival Iowa 18-17 at home, beat Louisiana-Monroe 72-20 and lost 23-21 to Baylor in Waco.
That’s three games out of five settled by three points or less and the TCU game figured to have a chance to be another one, but ISU rolled out to a 28-3 lead and never looked back in an impressive 49-24 decision. Impressive indeed, but I was a little surprised on Monday to see them installed as nine point road favorite over the Mountaineers this week.  That’s three to four points more than I suspected it would be.  We’ll see.

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