by Jim Buzzerd
This will probably turn into a rant piece, but I’m going to try and remain even keel in the aftermath of the West Virginia University Football Team’s, 30-24, loss to Maryland last Saturday. It will be hard to stay positive after losing a game that many had penciled in as one for the win column. Mistakes were in abundance to the tune of a 4-0 turnover advantage to the Terps. All four were critical especially Jarret Doege’s second interception of the day when his fade pass was intercepted in the end zone on second and 10 from the Maryland 13 with 8:16 left in the game.
There was an uncharacteristic fumble by Leddie Brown in the third quarter that hurt WVU and a Winston Wright fumble of a punt in the second quarter. Wright did excel on kickoff returns with 217 return yards including a 98 yarder for a touchdown. The game experience was like watching the Mountaineers move forward a couple steps only to fall backwards.
“The biggest statistic in football that tells whether you win or lose is turnovers and we had four that led directly to 10 points, and they had zero,” said West Virginia head coach Neal Brown, who fell to 11-12 in his WVU tenure. “It’s not overly complicated. It’s that simple.”
As predicted, social media outlets were alive with disgruntled fans calling for Brown’s job, but that sentiment was second only to those demanding Doege be benched. Neither will happen, but Brown and Doege bear the brunt of the responsibility for Saturday’s loss.
On a personal level the play of Doege was disappointing to me. Much had been written about how he had worked extremely hard in the offseason to get better. He spent countless hours working with his receivers, improving his footwork to become at least a little better threat to run and getting into the best shape of his life.
We were led to believe he was a much-improved player, because Brown said so, and so did others who had access to practices. With one game in the books none of that hype seemed to be true. One time he tried to run he tripped after a gain of two yards, and he was sacked three times. Sound familiar?
Oh, and there were still dropped passes. Doege is a weird cat, sometimes he looks in control on the field, and then he will throw an interception or take an unnecessary sack. Similar play in last December’s bowl game got Doege benched, and Austin Kendall came in and led WVU to a win. Kendall transferred to Louisiana Tech where he almost led his team to an upset of Mississippi State last Saturday in a 35-34 loss.
Now the role of backup quarterback falls to redshirt freshman Garrett Greene who was seen warming up on the sideline Saturday as if he were going into the game, but he never did. Naturally, the loudest fans want to see Greene start over Doege. Brown isn’t going to bench Doege at this stage, but I say it’s time to get Greene meaningful snaps this Saturday against outmanned Long Island University.
Game time is 5 p.m. and televised on ESPN+.