Well, Game 1 of the HCNB era ended with a nail-biting, head-scratching, hard-fought victory. Here are a couple of thoughts after the game.
The Kids Will be Alright
Kendall had a solid, if unspectacular game. His final line, 27-42/260 yds/2 TD-0 INT, is a promising day at the office for his first real start as a college quarterback, and it could've been even better. A couple of missed throws to a few open receivers could've made this game a little more comfortable than it ended up being, but these guys are still fairly new with each other, and I'd expect these relationships to get better as the year goes on.
Speaking of receivers, James looks every bit as fast as advertised, and was just missed for a couple big plays. Ryan looks like he is going to be solid, and came up with a couple big catches in the second half. Tevin Bush looked really good the times he was targeted, and made a great catch on that touch pass to the sideline from Kendall. Oh, and he also scored what would be the game-winning touchdown.
Transfer U Should Still be a Thing
I know there are those among us that think we should be focusing more on recruiting and development, and we should, but the truth of the matter is that WVU will never pull in tons of blue-chippers, so we need these guys to supplement our recruiting classes. Guys like Grier, Skyler, The White Family (are we sure you don't have any more sons?), Bigelow, and countless others over the years, have been major contributors to this program, and we saw today that guys like Jones and Alston, and Kendall, Ryan and Campbell all seem poised to do the same now.
Where's The Line?
34 yards rushing. 1.4 yards per carry. Zero rushing touchdowns. The offensive line had virtually zero push at all today. Maybe JMUs mission to sell out and make Kendall beat us in the air was the key, but the reality is that we should have still been able to do better than 34 yards regardless. This needs to be fixed, quickly, or we will be eaten alive once we get to the likes of Oklahoma, Texas, TCU, and Iowa State. Also, Kelby, STOP FALSE STARTING!
That New Defense
Well, they stiffened up as the game grew old, but that new defense, at times, looked a lot like that old defense. A lot of 3 down linemen, a lot of open void in the middle of the field, and a lot of rushing yards allowed, in ugly fashion. The defensive line has to be better off the ball in generating disruption at the point of attack, and it would probably be a decent decision not to have 3 down linemen with only 1 linebacker behind them. Thats a running team's dream. But as the game went on, we got better at our positioning and fighting off blocks at the line of scrimmage, and that was encouraging to see.
Maybe it was just first-game nerves, but the play-calling was pretty sketchy in this one. I dont think we had a single wide play for positive yards until the late 4th quarter pass to James. Their defensive linemen and outside backers were flying out to the flats in an effort to Not let us get wide, and man it really worked. But that didnt stop us from trying over, and over, and over, and over. Outside of that, the clock management at the end was very odd. Shadow of our own endzone, 2nd and 8, we take a shot downfield in a low-percentage play that allows JMU to save a timeout, when they were clearly willing to spend them at that point. Then, rather than staying in attack mode, we run on 3rd and long. Not to mention the field goal drive in the 4th quarter, ball on JMUs 27 and, rather than attack the defense just outside the redzone, we pull the Bobby Bowden special and hit em with the draw, play for the field goal.....I just didn't get it at all.
Overall this was a gritty win over a pretty damn good team, but there is plenty to clean up before Mizzou, and especially heading into conference play. But starting 1-0 is always better than 0-1. What are your thoughts on the game?