by Jim Buzzerd
Last week I mentioned that many were calling the three-point loss by the West Virginia University football team to Oklahoma on a walk off field goal a moral victory. While not a fan of the term ‘moral victory’, I acknowledge that some losses can provide a springboard into future success. For West Virginia, any hope for a springboard effect resulted in a belly flop Saturday as the Homecoming crowd endured a 23-20 loss to undermanned Texas Tech.
West Virginia entered the contest as a seven-point favorite but was listless in the first half as Tech dominated the game and took a 17-point halftime lead. The Red Raiders came in decimated with injuries, a fact that should have given WVU a strong edge. The Tech head coach had a right to be pleased with his team that sent WVU to its second straight defeat on a game ending field goal drive.
“The win is absolutely credited to our players,” Wells said. “When you leave eight guys and two of your top corners and two of your top receivers at home, your quarterback, your center, your safety, then you get in the game and you have guys going down, it’s just the essence of team and staying together and pulling together.”
Mountaineer fans can only look on in awe as their team is now 2-3 on the season knowing the record could be 5-0 except those critical mistakes continue to cost the team. Turnovers were key in the Maryland loss, in the last two losses turnovers were in play, but false starts, holding and misused timeouts have become a constant.
You can blame the penalties on the offensive linemen to a degree, but the coaching staff being unable to get plays called on time is infuriating the masses. Ultimately, the coaches are at least partly accountable for the rash of critical penalties. When Neal Brown was hired it was thought he would be the kind of coach that would not have this kind of discipline problem.
Making matters more difficult for West Virginia (2-3, 0-2) was that it used its second timeout of the half prior to a first down play in the red zone on that series.
“We had the wrong personnel grouping,” Brown said. “That’s on me. You can blame me. We had good plays. I’m as pissed about that as anything.” The Mountaineers had also called a timeout while in the red zone 2:57 into the third quarter, leaving them with only one down the stretch.
This has been a reoccurring theme with this staff, and it’s costing games. Brown did apologize to the fans, but talk is cheap. It appears the third-year coach is building the program in the right way in many areas, but game management may need to be reevaluated. I’m not sure what is happening on the sidelines, but it appears change is in order. Maybe that’s Brown relinquishing his play calling duties and focus on being a head coach.
It looks like a change is needed in game management, if not personnel on the field. To see if anything changes at Baylor this Saturday tune in to FS1 at noon. Saturday’s loss was projected as a win by most, so now WVU is faced with needing four more wins to become bowl eligible. Almost makes Saturday a must win.