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What I Think About West Virginia After Surviving Kansas

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It was not the blowout we’ve come to expect against Kansas.

NCAA Football: West Virginia at Kansas Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

That was an interesting game, especially for one that occurred in Lawrence, Kansas against the Kansas Jayhawks. Over 35,000 fans were in the stands. The Jayhawks did not go away quietly and Les Miles has that team and that defense playing hard. Here are more of my thoughts.

Martell Pettaway Handled His “Benching” Well

It was interesting that last week Martell Pettaway didn’t see the field. I quoted benching because I haven’t read anywhere that Pettaway was intentionally benched but Neal Brown said after the game he was proud of how Pettaway handled everything. He attacked practiced hard and the coaches rewarded him with touches. Martell, to his credit, made sure to make the most of his opportunities.

Brown’s philsophy when it comes to running backs runs counter to what West Virginia has on its roster. Brown, during his time at Troy, gave one running back the majority of touches. The running backs are definitely where there is an excess of talent and it would seem we should just run all four backs out and let them churn out yardage. Brown, however, wants to find the one guy to feed. Martell didn’t get many chances but when he did, he made them count. Speaking of running the ball....

That Two Point Play Call

In the past two weeks, the offense has called a wide receiver double pass and in both instances the play has failed miserably. Last week against NC State, Sean Ryan turned the failed play into a 22 yard run. This week, we tried to get cute on a two-point attempt. I don’t mind the two-point attempt. It was the right call, but the throwback pass, that was bad. This isn’t an instance of the playcall failed so I’m dogging on it. Almost the entire drive, you ran the ball. The running backs churned out yardage and finally punctuated it with Pettaway’s second touchdown of the game. With only two yards to get for a two-point conversion, you opt to go with a throwback pass? Why? Run the ball or call a play that fits to Kendall’s strength: Short timing passes. Those are plays that work. Calling a trick play, that doesn’t. Speaking of offense...

This Passing Offense Needs Tempo

It is no longer a trend. The offense only works when it goes tempo. Austin Kendall just isn’t comfortable and can’t see to find a rhythm when we need to slow down. During the entire first half, we sputtered and stalled as Brown tried to slow down the game. It is a smart gameplan, knowing that we are only going to win when we limit possessions of the other team, but as we slow down, we really S-L-O-W D-O-W-N. Speaking of Kendall....

Austin Kendall Is Going To Limit This Offense

Austin Kendall is the reverse “Bizzaro” Skyler Howard. That’s the best way I can describe him. Howard did not have good timing and struggled with the crossing pattern throws, but he had good touch throwing deep, especially when he threw to Shelton Gibson. He would put too much air under the ball sometimes but the ball got to the receiver. Kendall is the opposite. He has good touch on the shorter throws but when it comes to finding a receiver down the field on a big play, he just isn’t getting it there. As the team begins to play more elite competition, that is going to hold back this offense. Teams like Texas, Iowa State, Oklahoma and Baylor, who have the ability to get the ball down the field quickly and score at will. Those teams can be beat with a ball-control offense but you have to be perfect because if those teams score quickly, it puts more pressure on you to continue to make your drives count. Being down 21 when it takes you 5 minutes to score because you can’t throw deep makes comebacks tough.

ESPN+ Was Mostly Fine

The overall experience, for me, with ESPN+ was fine. I logged in and purchased the subscription 30 minutes before the game. The game started on time and after the first few seconds, the feed was crystal clear and I had no lag that I could see. It was better than when I have had to use WatchESPN at times for basketball games. The announcers were as bad as I typically expected for a regional ESPN game at noon but overall I didn’t have many complaints.

I understand that others had different experiences. I wasn’t thrilled to have to pay additional monies for a game. That was a major complaint I saw online. You’d be right to note we are the only Power 5 conference where you can only watch with this subscription but it should be noted that many cable packages require you to pay for an additional package if you want the ACC Network or Big Ten Network or any of the other conference network packages. If you are cutting the cord, then now you dont have to purchase all of those packages and can simply subscribe to the Big 12 Now package on ESPN+. For 5 dollars a month, you can rewatch games on demand, watch other teams games, plus a host of other items. It’s not a bad deal.

Now, if you have a less than ideal internet provider, your experience may have been different and you may have experienced stream lags, buffering or general poor quality. If that is the case, I feel for you. That is tough for anyone and as more and more products go digital, having a less than stellar internet only hinders your ability to experience all of these things. I get it.

Maybe I Should Change The Uniform Name?

West Virginia v Oklahoma State Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images

When we first debuted this uniform combination in 2014, I dubbed these the “Appalachian Tigers” because I thought we looked a lot like the LSU Tigers. The shoulder accents and the little nuances of the uniform made me immediately think of LSU.

Mississippi v LSU Photo by Marianna Massey/Getty Images

I was very excited when we announced we would wear the combination this week because as you all know, I love the combo. It just makes me giddy. I didn’t really see it during the game but when we posted the recap article my mind told me “these aren’t your uniforms”. We looked different. We didn’t look like our version of the LSU uniforms. No, we looked more like the Michigan Wolverines.

West Virginia v Kansas Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images
TY LAW MICHIGAN

This saddens me as I really liked looking like the LSU Tigers. I just might be coming around to the pant stripe. Should I change the name of this combination?