Long Island University had no chance versus WVU. The Sharks were outmatched and trailing literally from the first play of the game. With one of the biggest games of Neal Brown’s tenure approaching next week versus Virginia Tech, the Mountaineers still have plenty of questions to answer about the offense. Was there any useful information we can extract from the game versus LIU?
First let’s address the hottest topic, the quarterback situation. The Eers offense had 12 possessions in the game: Doege called the signals for six drives, Greene led four drives, and Crowder took over the final two. While I found it odd for Doege to lead so many drives, one explanation could be that Brown wanted to see him in different scenarios like the final drive of the half or the quick change after a turnover.
Predicted Points Added (PPA) is a metric that can be used to estimate how many points each individual play contributes. This metric takes into account the down, distance, and yard line. For example, a 3 yard gain on 3rd and 2 yields a much higher PPA than a 3 yard gain on a 3rd and 10. Below you can find the PPA per play for both Doege and Greene’s drives. DISCLAIMER: The benches basically were cleared during this game so the talent level surrounding the QBs could be wildly different between drives. Take these numbers with an enormous grain of salt.
What stands out here to me is Greene’s lack of passing plays. Greene improvised on several designed passes, something that HCNB was not overly happy with based on his post-game presser. Greene danced all over Long Island when he scrambled, but I personally would have preferred to see him in the pocket a little more so we could better evaluate his passing abilities. Doege topped Greene in both PPA/play and PPA/passing play, though due to the opponent and circumstances these numbers may or may not indicate such a large difference between the two QBs.
Another concern with the offense is the running game. As @NiteStare pointed out, during the last half of the Maryland game and the first half of the LIU game, Leddie Brown rushed 20 times for only 41 yards. In the LIU game, WVU had only three “explosive” plays on the ground, two of which were runs by Garrett Greene and the other was a Jarret Doege scramble. In 37 rushes by WVU running backs, no play went for 12 or more yards. If the Mountaineers can’t show evidence of a respectable running game versus Long Island University, it’s difficult to believe they can do it versus Virginia Tech or the Big 12. Garrett Greene had nearly half of the team’s rushing yards (98 of 198) and also had the longest run on the day of 25 yards. Mark me down as moderately to severely worried about the running game.
As far as defense, I don’t think much useful information can be extracted from the LIU game. Everyone with a pair of shoulder pads made it into this game with a comical 32 players showing up on the Mountaineers’ defensive stat sheet. The only concern I can mention is that the Mountaineers only forced one turnover, but with the amount of youth that played in this game, I’m not overly worried. All in all, zero points were allowed, so no complaints here.
The Virginia Tech game is going to reveal a lot about where this team is really at. Was the Maryland performance closer to the floor, the ceiling, or the average of what this team is capable of? I’ll be paying extra attention to our ability to run the ball early versus Virginia Tech as that could dictate the flow of our offense. I really don’t want to see this offense get behind early and feel the need to abandon the run.
As for the QB situation, my stance is this: both Doege and Greene should see the field versus VT. Doege should be running the majority of the offense, but I’m ready for some RPO Greene packages to add a new wrinkle, especially in the redzone. Keep VT off balance and don’t be so predictable (like a Doege read-option).