What a strange game. Before the game, everyone expected an ugly game, 20-17, 21-20, 17-14. Something close. A dogfight. If you heard the narrative 24 hours ago, the West Virginia Mountaineers jumped out to a big lead, the Virginia Tech Hokies stormed back but the defense held them on a goalline stand, you’d probably be ecstatic. So why aren’t you? Nearly everyone on social media had the same general reaction - “I’m so glad we won, but this feels kinda empty”. There is something to this.
That was so cool. The entire stadium is chanting your name, the camera pans down to you, you’re rocking along with the flow. If there is ever a scene that describes college football, that was it. Loved it.
Neal Brown and Gerad Parker do a great job of scripting plays. First two drives of the game yielded 135 yards of offense and two scores, to jump out to a 14-0 lead. In fact they were successful on 5 of their 6 non-kneel down possessions in the first half. Five possessions yielded at least a first down, four resulted in points, two resulted in punts and both VT possessions after punts did not yield points. That is about as perfect a first half as you can have. West Virginia averaged 6 yards a play, AFTER they generated 135 yards in 5 plays. The offense was moving in the first half, for the most part. Parker and Brown have proven they can script the heck out of a first half.
Second Half Non-Adjustments (again)
Ok I’ve complimented enough to start, let’s really talk here. The second half starts and the offense does second best thing it can do. It takes over 6 minutes to score but it only results in a field goal. It also would be the last points the Mountaineers would score. For the half, the Mountaineers only gained 88 yards. Against Maryland they gained 169, but 69 of those came when Maryland was up 30-21 and playing semi-prevent. Even in the big “come-from-behind” win against Kansas State, the last time the Neal Brown beat a ranked team, The Mountaineers only had 103 yards in the second half. This is not a one-off. Its a continuation of a very dangerous, dark trend.
My feeling is that Neal Brown is too conservative. He’s too buttoned up. He wants to get a lead in the first half, then anaconda you in the second half. He wants to sit on the lead and make you beat him, rather than him beating him. That’s great if you’re up 35-7. That is not great when you aren’t up by a huge score. Personally, I hate it. You take all of the energy and sails out of your offense. College is a bunch of kids playing ball. When you ask them to slow down and go slow and don’t mess up, they do the opposite. Then, they have to get back into speed mode and they can’t. The first half versus second half is a very alarming stat that needs to get corrected.
I absolutely hate dogging on a player. It’s not fun. Jarret Doege is a nice guy, who is playing quarterback for my favorite team. I don’t want to have to say negative things about him. In the first half, he finished 9/17. That is when we thought he was having a great day and the offense was sailing. He finished 15/25. He went 6/8 in the second half but threw for 51 yards and a nearly game-killing interception. He can’t run. He can’t throw deep. It is really tough for a lot of fans to continue to root for the Mountaineers knowing he is the starting quarterback. I would also argue that playing Greene, however sporadically, is actually worse for Doege because the offense is either a slant or a Leddie Brown inside run. Defend those two options and you’ve taken away 85% of the offense with Doege in the game.
Garrett Greene’s Usage
I was so glad to see Garrett get into the game. I was not a fan of how he was used. Garrett entered the game on the third series. He subbed out Doege for one freaking play. That play was a 6-yard draw on 2nd and 4 that netted a first down. So you brought him in for one damn play to get a first down then go back to Doege.
The next time he enters the game, he starts the series and Virginia Tech spooks him. They fake a blitz and he drops the snap. Smartly he throws it out of bounds (I am surprised he didn’t get a intentional grounding there, I didn’t think he was out of the pocket.) The next play was a handoff that got no yards so Doege came in. It ultimately worked because we would get a big throw from Doege and kick a field goal.
Greene would not enter the game again until 3 minutes left in the game, which is just baffling to me. You want to slow the game down and grind out the clock. You want to run, run, run, run and run. So you’re option is to leave in the pocket passer and not use the mobile quarterback who likes to run. Now its 3 minutes left in the game, do you know how close Greene was to sealing the deal. Look at this play. This is the play before Doege’s interception. They line up in a offset power formation to the wide side of the field. All 11 Hokies are within 10 yards of the LOS. As the play develops, TJ Banks comes across and Leddie Brown runs a counter. Greene has the read-option. The weakside backer crashes down hard into the middle. Greene rightly pulls it and takes off behind Banks. If Banks blocks Hollifield (#4) on this play, Greene is G-O-N-E. Pause the video at 7 seconds. If Banks gets his head around and just runs into Hollifield, Esdale is coming up on the safety. THERE IS NO ONE BEHIND THE SAFETY. THERE IS NO DEEP HELP COMING. That play is a touchdown. Its the f’n game. Instead, Banks doesn’t see Hollifield and moves up to the safety, double teaming him. Greene gets slipped up for a 6 yard gain. Greene is going to stay in and ice this game and a false start ruins it. Hindsight is 20/20, but would you have been better there, even at 3rd and 10, having Greene run a QB Draw. There was 2:20 left in the game. If you don’t pick up the first down, you punt it away with 1:30 left and VT has to drive 70 yards. Isn’t that better than what you did? Let Greene play an entire series.
All 11 Hokies are within 10 yards of the LOS. If TJ Banks blocks Hollifield Garret Greene takes this to the house pic.twitter.com/3labYkxhtO— Jake Lantz - WVUNite (@NiteStare) September 19, 2021
Have a game! Talk about being a man amongst boys, Bartlett took over in the second half. The VT tackles could not contain Suwanee, Georgia linebacker. He played possessed. The Mountaineers don’t win this game without him. Just an absolute masterclass of a game for him.
Yes Bruce he 1000% was.
Check out these two plays. We can design plays. Sam James deserves better.
Sam James broke ankles on the first play of the day. This should have been 6 pic.twitter.com/0h4lj056AV— Jake Lantz - WVUNite (@NiteStare) September 19, 2021
This was a great play design. pic.twitter.com/42QaCaXftM— Jake Lantz - WVUNite (@NiteStare) September 19, 2021
Tweets of the Game
ALRIGHT HERE'S THE SITUATION pic.twitter.com/PaeLGYl3iv— The Smoking Musket (@smokingmusket) September 18, 2021
Name a better tradition than singing “Country Roads” after beating your rival for the first time in 16 years in front of 60,000 of your closest friends. If you say anything, you’re wrong.
I’m so happy for the players. This is the first time that they got to truly experience being a Mountaineer. 60,000 people cheering. Beating a rival. Singing Country Roads. Climbing in the stands. If you don’t love college football after watching that, there is no hope for you.
West Virginia OG Doug Nester, who transferred from Virginia Tech this offseason, hoists the Black Diamond Trophy. pic.twitter.com/AngikeNl6X— Jared Serre (@JaredSerre) September 18, 2021
Transfer from your old school to a new school. Play your old school in your third game with new school. Beat old school and then hoist the trophy that’s been missing since 2004. Doug Nester, enjoy.
Here’s a look at the size of the crowd here at Milan Puskar Stadium. pic.twitter.com/ACPSKO2Obl— Jared Serre (@JaredSerre) September 18, 2021
I love the Gold Rush. Its a better visual than the True Blue. It looks even better at night.