by Jim Buzzerd
The West Virginia University football team lost a 34-27 at Texas Tech last Saturday in yet another game marred by dropped passes by the Mountaineer receiving corps. The dropped passes have become the norm for WVU and Saturday they were quite costly. And it didn’t take long on Saturday for the dropsies to rear their ugly head. On the game’s third play West Virginia faced a third and three at their own 32-yard line. Quarterback Jarret Doege hit wideout and wide-open Sean Ryan on a slant over the middle for what should have been a huge gain except the ball went off Ryan’s hands.
There were other drops, but the game winning score came on another kind of drop by a Mountaineer wide receiver. Tied at 27 all in the fourth quarter West Virginia received great field position on a short Texas Tech punt that set up the Mountaineers at the Tech 46-yard line with 9:33 remaining. After a nice four yard pick up by running back Leddie Brown, head coach Neal Brown decides to throw laterally to wideout Sam James who fumbled the ball to Texas Tech which was returned 56 yards for the winning score.
I’ve been on the Neal Brown bandwagon since his arrival, but after that play call I will be observing with a bit more of critical mindset moving forward. I still think Brown was a great hire, but thus far this season his team has been penalized extensively, with a number of those as a result of plays coming in late from the sideline. The fumble play was baffling for a couple reasons. First Leddie Brown was becoming a load for Tech defenders to tackle. A steady diet of runs by Brown, or Alec Sinkfield made sense to this observer and a number of others I have heard from.
Second, if you’re going to pass the ball in that second down situation, it may be prudent to select a receiver who has demonstrated the ability to catch a pass. James has struggled in that area probably more than any other receiver on the team. And while he did catch this throw, he didn’t hold it for long. Moving forward WVU fans can only hope that the receivers improve, but catching a football often falls into that “either you can, or you can’t” category. As for the coach, he’s got a lot on his plate and I’ve heard suggestions that maybe he should give up play calling duties and focus on being the head coach.
Maybe it’s too early in his tenure to fire himself as a play caller, but I hope it’s something he’ll be able to consider when the time comes.
Kansas State is next up this Saturday in Morgantown. Game time is noon and will be televised on ESPN2.