by Jim Buzzerd
Ok, by most measures it’s too early to throw in the towel on the 2022 West Virginia University football team, but as the team sits with a 2-3 record following Saturday’s one sided 38-20 loss to Texas, I’m seeing noise from some fans who are willing to do just that. I hope that sentiment doesn’t filtrate into the coaching staff and locker rooms, but if the body language of head coach Neal Brown Saturday night is an indicator, things seem like perhaps not all is well.
Losing to Texas is not necessarily a bad thing. They have resources that virtually no other school can surpass. They have four- and five-star football players in abundance in any direction to recruit. This season they are big strong and fast as anyone watching Saturday night could see. They had Alabama on the ropes earlier this season but lost to Texas Tech last week. The Mountaineers have played Texas tough since entering the Big 12 and I thought the same would be true Saturday night.
It wasn’t. West Virginia fell behind 28-0 and looked bad doing it allowing Texas to score on four of its first five possessions. Even before a play could be run the Mountaineers were hit with a false start penalty. Passes were dropped and quarterback J.T. Daniels was more inaccurate than we’ve seen, largely due to the Longhorns handling the WVU offensive line with relative ease and getting pressure.
Perhaps thinking WVU’s run game was solid was a bit premature. The Mountaineers could muster just 61 yards on 30 attempts against the Texas defensive line. The Longhorns’ first four touchdown drives were 60 yards, 74 yards, 71 yards and 87 yards. Meanwhile, the Mountaineers’ offense had just 75 yards on its first five possessions. Call it humiliation, annihilation, or whatever, WVU beat this team last season and for nearly 30 minutes looked like they had no business on the same field with Texas.
This is happening in Brown’s fourth season and it’s beginning to look like the folks wanting Brown fired have a case. Bottom line is the money the athletic department is investing in Brown should be producing better results on the field. That doesn’t mean I’m for firing him yet, but only because of the $16 million plus cost to WVU should they part ways in the short term. I keep hearing the financial support is there should athletic director Shane Lyons and President Gordon Gee decide to go in that direction.
I’m writing on Sunday instead of Monday, so if anything breaks with the coaching situation, the news won’t make it here. My guess, and not really an informed guess, is if Gee must sign off on this, it won’t happen during the season. Perhaps not even at the end of the season unless Gee succumbs to the powers that be.
The Big 12 had three highly competitive games Saturday. Oddly Oklahoma was uncompetitive in a 55-24 loss to TCU and West Virginia did not compete.
Brown had this to say after the game. “It’s been a tough first five games,” Brown said. “We’ve got a beat-up crew and we’ve kind of a half of a bye week, not a real bye week, and we need some time to regroup. We’ve got to get better, and we know that, but I do think we have some pieces to win games like this in our league. What we’ve got left are league games. We’ve got a chance to win them all and we’ve got a chance to lose them all. All of them are going to be tightly contested, not just for us but for everybody.”
West Virginia needs four more wins to become bowl eligible. Based on the level of play around the league Saturday, I don’t see four more wins unless something changes, especially in the WVU secondary. The Mountaineers have a bye next week and will return to action when they host Baylor Thursday, October 13, at 7:30 p.m.