by Jim Buzzerd
Looking at some of the online discussion following the West Virginia University’s 16-13 football loss to Oklahoma Saturday night one could see that some tried to paint the loss as a moral victory. Then there were the hardline types gruffly rebuffing anyone who tried to claim a moral victory. I am not a fan of the term moral victory, but the West Virginia defense finally showed why it was being hyped up by many in the pre-season. If that performance spurs the defense to play with that energy the remainder of the season, the loss could possibly be looked at as a victory of sorts.
To be fair, the defense showed a lot last week against Virginia Tech with some great stands inside the 10 yard line, but they also gave up big plays to put themselves in peril. Saturday the Mountaineers were 17 point underdogs and held the Sooners to one touchdown and the lowest offensive output of head coach Lincoln Riley’s tenure at Oklahoma in front of the Oklahoma crowd.
Thing is, this game could have easily gone into the win column. A false start on the Sooner one yard line and errant snap doomed the Mountaineers. WVU’s only points of the second half came on Casey Legg’s 21-yard field goal that broke a 10-all tie with 5:21 to play in the third quarter. The Mountaineers were in prime position to score their first second-half touchdown this season against a FBS opponent, but Parker Moorer was whistled for a false start on second-and-goal from the OU 1.
“We had a penalty on second-and-goal at the one and we were going to walk in,” head coach Neal Brown said. “That hurts.”
On their only fourth-quarter series, the Mountaineers got to the Oklahoma 28-yard line and put themselves in position to break a 13-all tie. An illegal snap infraction moved WVU back, and the next play proved disastrous when it appeared quarterback Jarret Doege wasn’t ready for center Zach Frazier’s shotgun snap, with the Mountaineer quarterback being forced to fall on the ball for a loss of 21 yards.
Unforced errors were costly in this one. Possibly more disturbing is the WVU offense has yet to score a second half touchdown in three attempts against a Power Five opponent. That stat further fuels the debate of how much more game reps backup quarterback Garrett Greene should be getting. On the Mountaineers impressive opening 17 play, 75-yard drive Greene came in to run the offense.
He threw a couple short passes to the flat and ran the read option and scored the Mountaineers’ only touchdown on a two-yard run. Greene’s running (five carries for 15 yards) brings something Doege doesn’t have, and Doege’s zero threat to run is clogging up the line of scrimmage for Leddie Brown. What needs exploring is Greene’s grasp of the entire offense. Doege completed 20-of-29 passes for 160 yards, while Greene was 3-of-4 for 19 yards.
“I know everybody wants to talk about quarterbacks and I get it,” Brown said. “We’d like to score more points. That bunch (Oklahoma)is pretty good. They’re playing as good defensively as anybody right now.”
West Virginia will host Texas Tech this Saturday at 3:30 on ESPN2.