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What I think after an embarrassment in Ames

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There is a lot to say about something that was completely unexpected

West Virginia v Iowa State Photo by David Purdy/Getty Images

42-6. This is a tough egg to swallow right now because no one expected us to get our butt’s kicked in. A loss wasn’t unexpected but thorough ass kicking? Didn’t see it coming.

The (non) Pass Interference calls

Let’s be clear, neither call is the reason we lost the game, but the lack of calls, or at least the lack of a flag was really poor. The first one, which came on a play in which the receiver did go out of bounds should have absolutely drawn a flag. Throw the flag and then pick it up because the receiver went out of bounds? Fine. To not even throw a flag? That was pretty poor. The second flag was even worse. The pass went out of bounds, but the damn receiver got tackled!

I dont know how you can’t throw a flag there. That is horrible.

We Sulked

Ok, so we didn’t get a few egregious calls. It happens. If you play sports enough, you have a story where someone fouled you and it didn’t get called. It happens. It’s called life. But you can’t quit because you didn’t get a call and we absolutely did. You can’t get down and you can’t quit because you didn’t get a few calls.

That sulking bled over to our overall play. Down two scores, we looked like we were going through the motions. We didn’t block well, we didn’t tackle well, we simply just got in the way and watched as Purdy and the Cyclones scored three times on one drive.

This Loss

So I tried to go through and find specific things to write about but let’s stop beating around the bush. This loss is unacceptable. It was unacceptable in 2018 when the number-whatever team went into Ames and looked like they couldn’t believe the Cyclones didn’t just lay down and it was unacceptable Saturday for this team to go into Ames and get mad and pouty and whatever other adjectives you want to use to describe them and just quit. That’s damning words. They quit. I don’t know what else to say but they did.

The defense was supposed to be one of the best in conference and Iowa State did not punt until the second half, and then they only punted twice. Once they started scoring, they scored. And scored. And scored. Defense is supposed to travel. It hasn’t all season. Yes, Iowa State is #10 in the nation in the AP and #9 in the CFP but nearly everyone had this as a low-scoring, slugfest and one team showed up and one team looked like football was an afterthought. Blame who you want for that but its real. .

The Climb

I’ve seen a lot people coming out and questioning “The Climb”. Then you have the opposite side of the coin where people are vehemently defending the climb. I think both are right. If you are questioning the climb, you are looking at a team that is 10-11 since the new head coach took over and has beaten one team over .500. Saturday marked a regression. The team had three weeks to prepare and while the layoff certainly hurt you would like to think they used that time to prepare. They looked the opposite. This was also a regression to 2019. All of the losses so far this year had been close and the team had been in the game well into the fourth quarter. This game was over by halftime. Did the previous South Carolina rumors linger over the team? I don’t know but now you have to wonder what it may have done to team morale.

If you are still on board the Climb, you are pointing out that the recruiting classes are better than anything West Virginia has seen. The current class, based on player average scores, are better than the 2007 class with Noel Devine, better than the 2009 class with Geno Smith, better than the 2013 class and better than the 2020 class, which was one of the best in school history. You are pointing out that most of Brown’s type of players are still very young and Brown is taking a whole-team approach and doing his best to avoid the transfer cycle that doomed the previous staff. All of those are real, tangible things that absolutely should be held onto. Trusting the Climb is hard but trust. We are only 21 games in. Rome wasn’t built overnight but plenty of civilizations were seemingly destroyed overnight.

Schemes

I’m not a football wizard by any imagination, but I’m still confused 21 games in, what the in the world we are doing on both offense and defense. On offense, without two of our best starters in Sam James and Bryce Ford-Wheaton, most likely due to COVID procedures, we seemed to have no route trees. I saw a couple slants. A couple curls. On defense, we got man handled and we’ve spent all season talking about our death-eating defensive line. Neal Brown said in his press conference that they played a four-man down front and yet we got pushed around like grade schoolers. The offensive line got beat up, again, and we continue to say you can’t judge the quarterback when the line is so bad, but what is the quarterback or offensive coordinator doing to help this? Are we calling quick passes to negate a pass rush? Are we using extra blockers to shore up the blocking? Are we going extra receivers to remove the blitz? On defense, with this defensive line, why aren’t we playing more man? Why aren’t we jamming and allowing our line to get to the quarterback? It seems very passive to me and I can’t figure out why.