Chip Shots – WVU basketball opens Monday

WVU basketball opens Monday

by Jim Buzzerd

The West Virginia University football team continued its losing ways Saturday losing 41-31 to TCU at home. The effort was an improvement from last week’s shellacking at Texas Tech, but once again, critical mistakes at inopportune times cost WVU a chance to win. Many of the mistakes came from the defense which was gashed for touchdown plays of 67 yards, 55 yards, 51 yards and 30 yards in the first half. It is painfully clear now that portal departures and injuries have rendered the back end of the WVU defense woefully outmanned against Big 12 opponents.

Still the West Virginia offense kept the Mountaineers in the game trailing 28-21 at the half. The West Virginia defense played some of its best football of the season in the second half Saturday, but the offense sputtered. When WVU’s Malachi Ruffin made an interception at WVU’s 16 yard line with 3:56 left in the game, the Mountaineers were in business down just 34-31.

With running backs CJ Donaldson and Justin Johnson knocked out of the game and Tony Mathis not dressed, fourth string running back Jaylen Anderson was on the field for West Virginia. A first down pass to Anderson was incomplete, a second down run by Anderson lost three yards and a fourth down pass to Kaden Prather fell incomplete. West Virginia was forced to punt and hope they could get one more possession.

Didn’t happen. TCU took possession at midfield and ultimately scored its only touchdown of the second half with 20 seconds left. The loss leaves WVU at 3-5 overall and 1-4 in the Big 12 and has many fans clamoring for Neal Brown’s job. The status of Brown’s job security truly unknown. Normally reliable posters in online forums have been divided on what they share. A few say Brown is back in 2023 no matter what, and there is sentiment that seven, eight or nine losses could force change throughout the athletic department.

The Mountaineers travel to Iowa State this Saturday at 3:30 on ESPN+. The Cyclones are also 3-5 but are 0-5 in the Big 12. Don’t let the league record fool you, ISU has lost three of those by a field goal or less and lost to Baylor by a touchdown. That’s probably why they are four to five point favorites over the Mountaineers.

With the football season showing little potential for a change of direction, fans can check out WVU hoops season opener with Mt. Saint Mary’s next Monday night at 7 p.m. on ESPN+. Head coach Bob Huggins is finally in the Hall of Fame, but he has had to overhaul the roster again. The challenge will be to improve on last season’s 16-17 record which included a 4-14 last place finish in the Big 12.

West Virginia won’t have the easy early season schedule they have had recently. The Mountaineers will participate in the Phil Knight Legacy Classic in Portland, Oregon over the Thanksgiving holiday. WVU opens against Purdue at 10 p.m. Thanksgiving night. They would play Gonzaga or Portland State on Friday. The other side of the bracket includes Duke, Xavier, Florida and Oregon State.