Chip Shots

by Jim Buzzerd

That didn’t look good

Everyone watching the progress of the West Virginia University football program had last Saturday’s game at Oklahoma State earmarked as being a barometer of where the Mountaineers are in their climb. There was good, bad and ugly in their 27-13 loss, but if you’re looking for any kind of positive read on the team, it’s there if you wade through the muck to find it. Running back Leddie Brown with 104 yards rushing is likely the first you would find.
The offense moved the ball well in the first half which was encouraging, but early in the second quarter the defense gave up a 66-yard run for a touchdown. Two minutes later WVU looked to be answering that touchdown as they moved 52 yards and had a first and 10 at the OSU 23. Two incomplete passes and an offsides penalty later West Virginia quarterback Jarret Doege was sacked and fumbled; OSU picked it up and went 56 yards for the touchdown and a 14-0 lead.
Mountaineer fans have to hope this isn’t a sign of things to come. They had pretty much dominated the first 20 to 25 minutes and were 17 points behind before Doege hooked up with Winston Wright on a 70-yard scoring play. Mistakes on the field hurt while mistakes on the sidelines may have hurt more.
“Extremely disappointing performance – we were an undisciplined football team today and that’s on myself and our coaches,” West Virginia coach Neal Brown said. “We talk all of the time about WVU not beating WVU and credit Oklahoma State, they are a veteran team that’s won a ton of games like this, but we had 12 penalties, gave them 10 points on offense, and before we can win big games we’ve got to quit losing them.”
West Virginia was penalized several times for delay of game or illegal procedure, because the plays from the sidelines came in late. Brown had a bad day in that regard. In all, West Virginia was flagged 12 times for 106 yards and often looked disorganized.
More disturbing stats come from the defensive side of the ball. West Virginia gave up five sacks for a loss of 41 yards. WVU’s defense, particularly the defensive line, is supposed to be the team’s strength, could only get to true freshman quarterback Shane Illingworth one time for a four-yard loss. Which begs the question of why WVU didn’t exert more pressure on the freshman as the Mountaineers seemed content to rush three defenders most of the time.
Illingworth didn’t light up West Virginia statistically, but he was a respectable 15-21 and 139 yards and his team moved the chains on third down 7 of 14 times. Just pure speculation on my part, but I think we would have seen a more effective strategy Saturday if Vic Koening were still the defensive coordinator.
West Virginia will host Baylor this Saturday at noon on ABC.