by Jim Buzzerd
The West Virginia University Football Team traveled to Waco, Texas last Thursday to face the unbeaten 12th ranked Bears. WVU lost 17-14, which was a lot closer than most predicted, especially since the Mountaineers were nearly a three-touchdown underdog. If you’re into moral victories, you may be inclined to count this as one, but this was a game West Virginia could have easily won.
A spirited effort by the defense, coupled with an 83-yard touchdown bomb from quarterback Austin Kendall to George Campbell and a 95 yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Winston Wright, had WVU very much in the game with 3:33 left when the Mountaineers lined up for a 43 yard field goal to tie the game.
There was more drama than usual too since the placekicker was freshman Casey Legg, and not Evan Staley who was ruled out of the game following warm-ups with a groin injury. This would be Legg’s third ever collegiate placement, the first two being the two extra point attempts earlier in the game. The former Cross Lanes Christian alum drilled the kick for an apparent tie, but the flags flew because the play clock had expired. The subsequent 48-yard attempt was blocked and Baylor was saved.
Social media types were quick to point a finger at first year head coach Neal Brown for not getting a time out called before the play clock expired. Brown didn’t disagree.
Afterward, coach Neal Brown was asked about the penalty that ended up costing West Virginia three important points. “That’s my fault,” he said. “We’ve got people that are kind of in charge of looking at the clock, but at the end of the day it’s my fault. I’m standing there worried about how we’re going to use our timeouts, how we are going to kick off, and I didn’t see the clock. That’s on me.”
Baylor dominated the statistics and there is little positive for WVU to take away on that side of the ball. The Bears outgained WVU 415 to 219. West Virginia could manage just 14 yards rushing and 83 of their 205 passing yards came on one play. Kendall was 20-39 with one pick. A lot of his throws weren’t close, but there was one notable drop.
WVU is still mathematically alive for a bowl, but there is no reason to say more about that right now. If you’re looking for a reason to tune in to ESPN2 Saturday at noon to watch the Mountaineers play Texas Tech, consider that a number of new players can play the final four games and not lose their redshirt.
That could mean playing time for true freshman defensive lineman Jalen Thornton, the son of former WVU standout John “Thunder” Thornton. Parker Moorer, a 6-3, 300 true freshman offensive lineman may also get a call.
Given the poor offensive line play this season, it may not be prudent to put all the blame for our quarterback play on Kendall. That said, fans that have been clamoring for a change at the position may (emphasis on ‘may’), get their wish to see Jarret Doege take some snaps.
Doege is a junior transfer from Bowling Green, but hails from Lubbock, so it would be interesting to see him take his first snaps against his home town school. Brown was the offensive coordinator at Tech when Doege’s brother, Seth, played for the Red Raiders.