Fans, we finally got our first look at Neal Brown and the West Virginia Mountaineers as we start the post-Dana Holgorsen era. The 2018 team held a ton of talent in seniors such as David Sills, Will Grier, Gary Jennings, and Yodny Cajuste, but the cupboard isn’t bare. Let’s take a dive into the offense, defense and those new uniforms.
As expected Austin Kendall and Jack Allison were the #1 and #2. Austin was the quarterback for the first team offense and Allison was the QB for the second team offense.
Austin Kendall - Kendall was unimpressive overall to me. He finished the day 5-of-8 for 109 yards and one touchdown. That one touchdown was a blown coverage by the defense and saw T.J. Simmons get behind the defense and score a 60 yard touchdown. Kendall had another long throw to Sam James for 39 yards. Both throws however were off the mark and underthrown. James was forced to stop and come back to the ball while shielding the defender while on the Simmons throw, instead of leading Simmons up the field, he turned Simmons around and forced Simmons to adjust and then win a foot race.
Kendall started the third quarter and showed a bit of wheels when after Trey Lowe took over and led the team down the field to the goalline, Kendall came in and ran the zone-read to perfection, pulling the crashing end into the backfield before diving around him for a score.
Jack Allison - Allison started sloppy overall and his numbers on the day don’t reflect a guy who would be capable of pushing Kendall for the starting position, but if you asked me to assess the two “starters” I would tell you I thought Allison played better overall. After a rough start, Allison started to make some solid decisions on where to go with the ball and showed a much livlier arm than Kendall. Allison stood firm in the pocket on a 4th down play where he rifled a ball into Tevin Bush. A couple played later Allison found Randy Fields for his only touchdown of the day.
Trey Lowe - Lowe proved that he is the most mobile of the quarterbacks, which isn’t exactly a surprise. Lowe showed off his wheels on a few plays and connected with Sam James on a 40-yard pass before ending the game on a 28-yard touchdown to Dillon Spalding.
I think if Brown wants to play more of a zone-read system, Kendall and Lowe will give him the capability of using QB runs to generate chunk plays. Both of them are less skilled passers than Allison but they have more athletic ability which seems to be what Neal craves.
Don’t even attempt to assess what the backs did given how poorly the offensive line played and how well the defensive line played. Martell Pettaway finished with 21 yards on 11 carries while Leddie Brown finished with 34 yards on 11 carries. Alec Sinkfield on the Blue squad had 8 carries for only 12 yards. The backs had little room to work and while defensive coordinate Vic Koenning didn’t blitz he did crowd the line to take away the run.
The star of the day for the receivers was Sam James. James, playing on the outside, displayed good body control and great speed. James was a big recruit for the former staff who told others that they could turn James into a first-round pick. Now we know why.
Tevin Bush was the most versatile player for either side. To go along with his 8 rushing attempts, Bush caught 4 of his 6 targets for 44 yards. Ricky Johns caught 3 of his 6 targets but one of those was a ball he actually caught but was ruled out of bounds.
This part of the team did not have a good day. The running backs and quarterbacks carried 49 yards for 64 yards against a good defensive line that kept things very basic. The first team offensive line was solid but the second team was not. That should worry fans when the first teamers need a break or a backup must come in.
I’m going to do this one as a whole but the defensive line played outstanding. Holding your opponents to less than 2 yards a carry is going to make you very difficult to play against. The line didn’t do many twists or stunts or anything exotic and they still proved to be immovable at times. Stone Wolfley and Exree Loe each had 2 sacks of Jack Allison.
Because of the astounding play of the D-line, the linebackers didn’t really have much to do. VanDarius Cowan led the linebackers with 4 tackles.
Not much can be said about the defensive backs and safeties because of how poor the quarterbacks played. Jordan Adams picked off an ill advised pass from Jack Allison and Keith Washington picked off Trey Lowe when Lowe scrambled then threw across his body allowing Washington to get in front of the receiver. Adams was penalized for an unsportsmanlike penalty for making a “throat slashing” gesture. I’m not sure I would call that a throat slash but head coach Brown was not happy with Adams on that call and glad he could learn the lesson in the spring game and not in a situation where it could hurt the team in a critical moment.
The New Uniforms
All of that hype, all of the videos and all of the fanfare and we squared off the numbers. The reaction online is mixed and for good reason. As someone told me on Twitter, “Evolutionary, not revolutionary”. That is a good way to put it.
I’ve gone on record and said I liked the former numbers, so I am a fan of the numbers.
The numbers are not exactly the same, but I'm amazed at the people who think they're not almost the same. pic.twitter.com/eH9GsefP1S— Ben Booth (@TheBenBoothShow) April 13, 2019
I am not a fan of the grey uniforms. This isn’t baseball where you wear grey on the road, its football. I wasn’t a fan of the grey in 2012 and I’m not a fan of the grey now. However, how they handled the numbers on the grey, I am a fan of. The blue numbers, outlined in gold against a grey jersey pops. It is different than all of the numbers and I wish they had something like that for all of the numbers.
According to WVU’s own rebranding website, there are currently 16 uniform options (four pants and four jerseys) but when you add the three helmets, the options increase to 48. The word three is interesting since WVU only showed two during the uniform release: a blue and a white. Will WVU keep the gold helmet or will they go with a grey? If given my choice, I hope they go with gold, simply so we can keep the best one-off uniform in college, the Appalachian Tiger.