According to the pundits and Las Vegas, West Virginia wasn't supposed to even be in the game. Alabama took a 3 point lead into halftime, but wore WVU down with their run game in the second half, pulling away a bit more for a 33-23 victory.
Overall, WVU looked much improved over the team from a year ago. Clint Trickett played a good game, finishing with 365 yards and a touchdown pass to Kevin White, who led the receivers with 9 grabs and 143 yards. While the offense did move the ball through the air, the Alabama defense held the running game to only 28 yards on 24 attempts. That obviously needs to improve. Good thing for us, though, is that of our remaining foes, Oklahoma is the only one likely to have as good a defense as we saw today.
The receivers (other than White) were plagued by drops once again, missing several easy catches that would have converted 3rd down attempts. Jordan Thompson did have a gorgeous grab deep in traffic to overshadow a few of his drops at least.
Defensively, the Mountaineers look to have recovered quite a bit from last year's debacle. Still, there were several egregious missed tackles on third downs that would have gotten them off the field. Then as the game wore on into the 4th quarter, the grind of the Alabama run game did wear on the WVU defense as the game went on. T.J. Yeldon and Derrick Henry both eclipsed the 100 yard mark with 126 and 113 yards respectively, as the Tide accumulated 288 rushing yards on the day.
WVU also had a special teams bright spot . After Yeldon scored one of his two rushing touchdowns to put the Tide up 17-10 in the second quarter, Mario Alford returned the ensuing kickoff 100 yards to tie the game.
While the end result wasn't what the Mountaineer faithful hoped for, the future of WVU football looks much brighter than last season. There is still plenty of room for improvement, but as a whole, this game went better than most people would have thought.
The Mountaineers return to Morgantown next week for the home opener against an FCS foe, the Towson Tigers.