Chip Shots – That’s more like it

That’s more like it

by Jim Buzzerd

The West Virginia University Football Team made a clear statement last Saturday that the season is very much alive with a 38-31 win over 22nd ranked Iowa State in Morgantown. The win leaves the Mountaineers with a 4-4 record heading into this Saturday’s home game against 11th ranked Oklahoma State. Game time is 3:30 p.m. and can be seen on ESPN. WVU went into its open week with a 2-4 record following an embarrassing 45-20 loss at Baylor on October 9. There was little reason to believe the Mountaineers were going to come out of the open date and win two games in a row to be 4-4 at this point.

Well folks, that is what has occurred and now the season that was on the brink now has new life. In the last two weeks we’ve seen a glimpse of what we were told to expect from the Mountaineers from insiders during the preseason. That being that this team should be able to compete with anyone on their schedule. Technically, they have been in every game except Baylor, but in losses to Maryland, Oklahoma and Texas Tech the games were close, but penalties, turnovers and botched timeouts thwarted West Virginia wins.

This Iowa State win is particularly satisfying since the Cyclones have outscored WVU in the last three games between the two teams by a combined score of 120-34. Last season’s 42-6 loss, in particular, stuck in head coach Neal Brown’s craw.

“We changed our offseason program after they dominated us in that game last year,” Brown said. “We had the 42-6 score up from the time we came back in late January all the way through fall camp. We talked about how we had to get bigger, stronger and more physical. A year ago, it was domination on the front.”

Recently in this space plenty of words were used to pin a significant amount of the responsibility for WVU’s poor offensive play on the offensive line. I believe that was accurate, and now I see improvement is being made. In the first six games WVU was averaging 3.2 yards per rush on first down. In the last two games WVU is averaging 4.8 yards per rush. In yards per play on first down WVU averaged 5.5 yards in the first six games; in the last two games that number is 7.3 yards per play.

This doesn’t mean the offensive line has become a strength overnight, but it may mean the youth of that unit is turning the corner. Fairmont native and second year starter Zach Frazier and true freshman Wyatt Milum from Kenova are two in state players poised to take the O-line to the next level. In an unrelated matter, when I heard the tail end of a news blurb that PETA is trying to get Major League Baseball to change the term “bullpen” to “arm barn,” I thought it was a joke. Turns out this a real movement PETA is trying to create.

“Words matter, and baseball ‘bullpens’ devalue talented players and mock the misery of sensitive animals,” PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman said in a news release.

Just stop already! If the talented big leaguers in a major league bullpen feel devalued, let’s hear them make a case. Good luck with that, because I don’t think the sensitive animals will complain, nor even care.