The West Virginia Mountaineers face the Texas Tech Red Raiders on Saturday, a team they are currently 0-2 in the Neal Brown era — which is tough to wrap your head around as the Red Raiders have finished worse than the Mountaineers in both 2019 (4-8) and 2020 (4-6). Its tough to take away anything from either game since the Red Raiders won in two different fashions.
In 2019, the Red Raiders jumped all over the Mountaineers in Morgantown as former quarterback Austin Kendall failed to put the offense in good positions with consistently underthrown balls. Strangely enough, current starter Jarret Doege would enter that game in the fourth quarter, signaling his time as the starter and the end of the Kendall era. Doege would finish that game 11/19 for 119 yards and a touchdown.
In 2020, the Mountaineers found themselves playing catch-up as Texas Tech scored touchdowns on their first, third, sixth and eighth possessions of the game. Thanks to Tech fumbling on their opening possession of the second half, West Virginia got good field position and turned that into a touchdown. However, despite battling back and tying the game, a Sam James fumble returned for a Red Raiders touchdown was the difference in the game. Jarret Doege would throw for 347 yards and a touchdown in the game, but was unable to generate a scoring drive once the game was tied.
Brown’s connections with Texas Tech runs deep. He was hired in 2010 as their offensive coordinator and helped coach Jarret’s brother Seth during his tenure there. The Red Raiders would go 21-17 during his three years there and Brown helped engineer upsets of #12 Missouri, #3 Oklahoma and #5 West Virginia during his time as the coordinator. Seth Doege threw for over 400 yards five times as Brown’s quarterback including a career-high 499 against the Mountaineers in 2012.
West Virginia is at a bit of a crossroads right now. Their offense is clearly struggling. Since switching quarterbacks to the younger Doege, the Mountaineers have only scored 30+ points two times. Once against Kansas, which pushes the boundary on being an FBS Power 5 opponent, and against Kansas State last year. Against Power 5 opponents, Doege’s teams are averaging 22 points a game and worse, less than 10 points a game in the second half.
Texas Tech is currently without their starting quarterback in Tyler Shough, who broke his collarbone against Texas. With Shough, the Red Raiders have been a second half team this season, scoring 99 points in the second half, against three lower level teams and against Texas who was up 49-14. Replacing Shough will be Henry Columbi, who completed 22 of 28 passes for 169 yards and a touchdown while rushing 11 times for 40 yards and a touchdown last year against the Mountaineers in Lubbock.
Neal Brown has admitted that the Mountaineers are struggling to score in the second half and one of his remedies will be to continue to play two quarterbacks. It doesn’t appear to be a set model, but more of one that gets determined based on how the game progresses. He also knows that the Mountaineers are struggling after halftime,
“We have to get better. I mean, that’s the truth of it, and we got to score more in the second half. We script the second half, too, and that’s why we’ve had productive drives in the second half starting, too. It’s really been early in the fourth quarter where we’ve kind of dried up — late in the third, early in the fourth — and I think it’s a combination. For a play-caller offensive scheme-wise, I think you’ve got to do a couple things. You’ve got to save some things, right? I think you’ve got to do that. Maybe you carry a little bit more into a game and save some for the second half.”
The Mountaineers will need to script the plays in the second half and continue to score if they hope to stay above .500. Tech isn’t the strongest of opponents but now is the time to fix the offensive woes that seem to plague the Mountaineers.