A few thoughts
by Jim Buzzerd
The West Virginia University Football Team secured bowl eligibility with a closer than comfortable 34-28 win over Kansas last Saturday night in Lawrence, Kansas. Just where the Mountaineers will end up has yet to be decided. The game was close throughout and was tied at 21 early in the third period. West Virginia would build the lead to 34-21 with 4:38 left in the game, but a Kansas touchdown with 1:46 to go forced the Mountaineers to recover an onside kick to be able to run out the clock.
Quarterback Jarret Doege was a mixed bag again. He completed 16 of 21 passes for 170 yards, but threw an interception for a pick six, and took two sacks. The Mountaineer running game looked as strong as it has all season piling up 297 yards. Senior Leddie Brown led the way with 157 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries.
There was a report on Twitter Sunday suggesting Brown may forego the bowl game to prepare for the NFL draft. That remains unconfirmed as of Monday. Brown has accepted an invitation to play in the East-West Shrine game on February 3, in Las Vegas. Sophomore back up running back Tony Mathis gave Mountaineer fans a glimpse of his potential as he also eclipsed the 100-yard mark with 118 yards on 22 carries.
Brown commented in his post-game interview, “We knew coming into the game that the run game was going to be a big factor,” Leddie Brown said. “Coach Scott told me and Tony, this game I was going to have 100 and he was going to have 100, too, and that’s what the stats say. I’m proud of Tony. He practiced hard this week and he deserves it.”
There has been very little discussion here about WVU men’s basketball, so here are some early thoughts on what has transpired thus far. West Virginia is 5-1 with the only loss coming at the hands of Marquette 82-71 in the second round of the Shriners Charleston Classic. WVU led 47-35 at halftime in that game and were blown out in the second half 47-24.
In that game, and Friday’s narrow 80-77 home win over Eastern Kentucky, WVU’s inability to defend the three-point line has been costly. In the Marquette game the Golden Eagles were 12 of 26 from beyond the arc, including 8 of 13 in the decisive second half. Against EKU West Virginia was 14 of 29 shooting while going just 5 of 23 on their end of the court.
Unless the WVU inside game improves drastically with a host of newcomers there, outside shooting will have to carry this team. It was thought that Taz Sherman, Sean McNeil and Jalen Bridges would be a solid core of shooters to make opposing teams pay. Friday night Bridges and McNeil were a combined 1 of 12 from three-point range.
Adding to the frustration is watching opponents on offense send a shooter to a spot, either the wing or corner, then make a two, three, or four passes and ultimately find their guy wide open. Meanwhile, West Virginia on its offensive end, dribble more than they pass, and the shooters don’t get the wide open looks their opponents get. Coach Bob Huggins has won too many games to be allowing this to happen in this manner.
Finally, the West Virginia Men’s Soccer Team has reached the Elite Eight of the NCAA Soccer Tournament. WVU has advanced to the quarterfinals with wins over Virginia Tech and Tulsa. The Mountaineers will travel to Washington DC this Saturday to face sixth ranked Georgetown. Game time is at noon and can be viewed on ESPN+.