by Jim Buzzerd
Defense of note
At the risk of jinxing the whole thing, it seems time to give out kudos to the defense of the West Virginia University Football Team. They have been strong all season with the exception of the eight-minute scoring drive they allowed to Oklahoma State late in that loss. There have been some other plays the defense would like to have back, but this defense is beginning to look like some of the vaunted defenses of yesteryear. An interesting defensive stat from Saturday’s 37-10 win over a ranked Kansas State team was WVU missed five tackles on 61 defensive snaps.
I don’t know just how good that is, but I’m sure long-time followers of the Mountaineers can think of many times WVU would miss two or three tackles on a single play. This trend toward sure tackling is refreshing and Arizona transfer Tony Fields is having a big impact on this defense.
Fields tallied a game-high 15 tackles including five solo and 10 assisted. The senior also had a pass breakup and is one of just five Mountaineers to collect 15 tackles or more in a game since 2009. Fields was part of a Mountaineer defense that held K-State to its lowest rushing total since 2014 with 41 yards.
West Virginia head coach Neal Brown was happy with the defense’s effort. “I just thought we were physical. I know that sounds simple. But a lot of times on defense, if you are physical and can fly around, you have a chance. We played with a lot of energy and a lot of physicality today.”
The offense was better Saturday as the West Virginia wideouts helped Jarret Doege by catching the ball. The drops were few and far between. Doege found eight different receivers completing 22 of 34 passes for 301 yards and two touchdowns. Bryce Ford-Wheaton led in receiving yardage with three grabs for 104 yards. Leddie Brown had four grabs out of the backfield and he eclipsed 100 yards again with 102 yards on 24 carries.
Make no mistake, Saturday was a great win for WVU, but is Kansas State really a Top 16 team? Probably not in my opinion. I would argue that West Virginia’s next four
opponents of Texas, TCU, Oklahoma and Iowa State will
be tougher matchups than K-State was. Indeed, the final four opponents will put the defensive stats and Brown’s rushing stats to the test.
That all begins Saturday when the Mountaineers visit Austin to meet the Longhorns in a noon game televised by ABC.