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Chip Shots – Midpoint

Midpoint

by Jim Buzzerd

The midpoint of the West Virginia University football season arrived following an ugly 45-20 loss at Baylor two Saturdays ago. Following a much needed off week the Mountaineers will resume their season this Saturday night at TCU. Game time is 7:30 and will be televised by ESPNU. The Baylor loss was easily the most one-sided game the Mountaineers have been in this season, and that game followed what has to the most disappointing loss, a 23-20 home loss to Texas Tech. The Mountaineers are now 2-4 and seem to be in disarray.

A lackluster showing at home to a not-very-good Texas Tech team and a non-competitive effort at Baylor has fans wondering what is going on. The information coming out of fall camp from the media that regularly covers the Mountaineers was largely positive. The defense was to be stout and it has been at times, but has given up many big plays and had a bad day against Baylor giving up over 500 yards.

Offensively, West Virginia had high hopes for running back Leddie Brown who returned for his senior season as the Big 12 rushing leader. Brown has 434 yards in 95 carries for 4.4 per carry average. That stat is buoyed by an 80-yard run against Virginia Tech, but still below expectations.

We were also led to believe the passing game would be improved because quarterback Jarret Doege threw thousands of balls to his not so sure handed receivers. Word was Doege was throwing well and the receivers were catching the ball. Perhaps the biggest fib of the preseason was that the offensive line looked formidable. Maybe they did in photographs, but the offensive line, for my money, is the reason WVU isn’t 4-2, or 5-1.

The line is the reason WVU has not effectively rushed the football. The line served notice in the 66-0 win over LIU in the second game of the season that it was not a good unit. Against a team that was monumentally over matched, the O-line struggled to get push downfield. Quarterback Garrett Greene led the team in rushing that day with 107 yards on 14 carries, largely without the benefit of blocking. The rest of the team ran 41 times for 123 yards.

I complain about Doege taking sacks and holding the ball too long, but the O-line bears much of blame for Doege’s problems. His passing totals are not bad 118 of 181 for 1444 yards and eight touchdowns. That’s 65%, but the five interceptions hurt.

The West Virginia coaching staff has a mantra of ‘Trust the Climb’ for the growth of the football program. Neal Brown is in his third season at WVU and for the first two seasons I believed he was moving the program forward.

The next recruiting class is on track to be one of the best ever at WVU, but after six games in 2021 West Virginia seems to have taken a step back. The good news is there is time to change that. The next six games will tell us a lot about Brown. He says, “We’ve got a lot of football left. We have half a season. Everything is doom and gloom right now. I don’t think you approach it like that.” Let’s hope the team was ‘coached up’ last week and turns this around.

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