A long December and there’s reason to believe, Maybe this year will be better than the last
That feels like an apt comparison, maybe it is, maybe it isn’t but it feels apt. We’ve got a long December ahead of us - BEFORE THE BOWL GAME! - yeah that’s right, I said bowl game. You probably have about as much excitement for the bowl game as I did watching this game, which was not much. To be honest, I would have preferred to have watched Chicago Fire with my wife and just tuned the game out but that would have been disingenuous to you for me to mail it in so I slogged my way through. Here we go.
Doege finished 16 for 21, for 170 yards, 3 touchdowns and one interception. On the whole, that seems like a very serviceable and fine stat line for a quarterback, especially when your team carries the ball 50 times for 250 yards. The coaching staff knew coming in that Kansas was one of the worst pass-rushing teams in the country. Kansas lived up to that billing, collecting a measly two sacks and one quarterback hurry.
Supporters, [coaches?], [administrators?] will point to the fact that Doege finished the year with 2,908 yards, which is good for 9th all time and the bowl game remaining and with 237 yards, he would pass Skyler Howard for 8th [while becoming the 9th player to pass for 3,000 yards]. With 377 yards, he would pass Clint Trickett for 7th. Doege’s 19 touchdowns on the season tie him for 10th all time in a single season with Oliver Luck and Rasheed Marshall. With three touchdowns, he would pass Pat White for 9th all time.
You had to expect that Doege would have a good game against Kansas right? Again, they were one of the worst pass defense in the country, only their rush defense was somehow worse so if you had to choose, you would run the ball and get out of Dodge [not Doege]. Yet, despite ending the game for 16 for 21, one of Doege’s misses went for a pick-six where he stared down a receiver and at least two more were nearly intercepted. All of this coming from a player who has thrown a pass every year from 2017-2021 and could throw a majority of passes again in 2022.
It isn’t fun to talk about QB1. Trust me, I don’t want to. He does good things, at times, and he does things that are better than anyone else on the roster. Still, the play at quarterback isn’t good and three years into this experiment [experience] [slice of pie?] we’re subjected to the same mistakes, same play, same experiences.
I see a lot that many people think spring 2022 will be an “open QB competition” and I wonder and ask, what exactly are we competing? We know what Doege is. Why do we expect him to get better?
2017 - 7.3 YPA / 143.4 RTG
2018 - 6.8 YPA / 136.4 RTG
2019 - 6.8 YPA / 137.3 RTG
2020 - 6.9 YPA / 132.2 RTG
2021 - 7.5 YPA / 137.2 RTG
Am I supposed to believe that in the sixth year, those numbers will be significantly better? Well the line and receivers will be better next year. Great! Then nearly any quarterback should be able to succeed because every quarterback is dependent on the line and the receivers. If they will be better, let’s get someone with a higher ceiling.
I do not see, how this coaching staff with its reservations for errors and mistakes, will start a redshirt sophomore they haven’t trusted all season and one they’ve called out multiple times by name in press conferences for his mistakes over JD. I don’t see how they will play a redshirt freshman who threw one pass all season against LIU over JD. I don’t see how they will play a true freshman who has never thrown a pass over JD. And if they bring in a transfer quarterback, he had better be significantly better than JD right? He’s going to almost expect to be handed the ball otherwise, he wouldn’t transfer here or he wouldn’t be a significant upgrade. Either way, nothing so far shows me that improvement at the QB position is to be expected.
Leddie’s Last Game?
Leddie Brown picked up his second 1,000 yard rushing season last night and now Brown has his sights set on bigger and better things. The question to be asked, was this the last time we saw Brown in uniform? He posted a story on his Instagram, showing his jersey with the caption “Last Dance” and a tear drop emoji. I would not be surprised to hear that Brown has opted out of the bowl game, since he has nothing to gain. Leddie will be working towards being drafted in the upcoming NFL draft and playing in a meaningless bowl doesn’t exactly provide him with anything. He isn’t working towards a statistical goal nor is he trying to improve a draft stock in one game.
There are comments about one last game with his teammates and not letting them down and if Brown chooses to play in the game for those reasons, or because he wants one more game, good for him. I won’t begrudge him either way since running backs have a short shelf life and if you have a chance to sign a contract and extend that NFL dream, you should.
We should appreciate Brown, for whatever he chooses to do since Brown was the best [offensive] player on the team for at least the last two years and it could be argued in the Neal Brown era. Leddie never complained, never whined and just went to work. Leddie was a workhorse tailback who caught the ball, ran ultra hard and when he was feeling it, got everyone involved. I’ll go back to the Maryland game when the fans were chanting his name and he was rocking along with everyone. If Saturday was your last game Leddie, thanks for being a Mountaineer. It was fun.
Thank goodness for Josh Chandler Semedo because yesterday’s game looks a helluva lot different if he doesn’t pick off two redzone passes in the endzone. Even still, the defense is limping to the finish. Players are hurt, players are playing out of position and young players are being thrust into position and being asked to make plays. The rush defense did well, limiting Kansas to 3.2 yards per carry, especially after giving Texas the option to run a lot last week. the pass defense wasn’t spectacular, allowing 7.8 yards per attempt but the two interceptions were the difference in the game.
Let’s talk about this real quick as we end this. At the halfway point of the season, the team was 2-4, coming off a blowout loss to Baylor in which the defense quit early in the game because it was hot and they were tired of straining and getting no help. The staff was in real danger of losing the team because the offense continued to ask the defense to win games while it figured out if it needed to rub a stick and rock, a rock and the mud, two sticks or a string and a wet leaf together to start a fire. After the bye, the offense looked more fluid, had more continuity and we started to see some semblance of what the offense could be.
It is a testament to the coaching staff that no one quit and they still got maximum effort even in a night game at Lawrence, Kansas where 23,000 people showed up (at least that is the announced attendance). It would have been understandable if the team had quit given the start but the coaching staff got buyin from everyone and everyone continued to strain and work hard even when the lofty goals were no longer attainable. The team worked together and won four games after the bye. Now we wait to see where the bowl game takes us but it isn’t lost that this team could have been lost and we could have been having a much different conversation this week. We aren’t. AFter the bowl we can talk about expectations and what needs to happen but for now, we get to enjoy the fact there is one more game of West Virginia football.