I've been thinking about Neal Brown's time in Morgantown. The only way I can describe it is as a movie like The Phantom Menace. It has all of the pieces to be simply amazing, but can't get out of it's own way.
1. There's only 5 of these left this year - mercifully, we're past the halfway point in the season. There's only 5 games left on the schedule, and quite possibly in Neal Brown's career in Morgantown. Unfortunately, I can't see us winning any of those games.
1. Graham Harrell's offense - maybe I had the wrong impression of Harrell's brand of air raid. I expected to see us throwing the ball all over the field similar to what we saw most year's under Dana. Unfortunately, that's not what we've seen. It's been a bunch of dink & dunk passing with a few runs mixed in. This doesn't look much different than what we saw under Neal Brown's play calling the last three years. Our average gain on first down today was 5 yards, which was helped immensely by a couple of 20 yard plays. Our median gain on first down was only 2 yards. We average just over 9 plays per scoring drive this season and 65 yards per scoring drive. 7 yards per play is nothing to complain about, but we can't expect our offense to put up 10 plus play drives every time they touch the ball. We have absolutely no home run threat, which doesn't make sense with a 5 star QB & a lot of talent at the skill positions.
2. The return game - As I mentioned above, our average scoring drive covers about 65 yards, while the median is 72 yards. That means, we're losing the field position battle more often than not. Today we had one kick return for 16 yards & one punt return for 10 yards. Not exactly what you're looking for from the special teams to give your offense a boost. For the season, we're averaging just under 18 yards per kick return and just 7 yards per punt return. We have tons of explosive guys on this team. They're just not making explosive plays.
1. Jordan Lesley's defensive scheme - For the second straight game, the WVU defense gave up nearly 600 yards of offense (590 vs Baylor & 594 for TTU). For the season, we're average 405 yards against (including Towson & VT). Remove those two lackluster offenses, and the average skyrockets to 487 yards per game. Against Big 12 opponents, it's even worse at almost 513 yards per game. The greatest majority of those yards against have come through the air. Everyone knows our secondary is young, inexperienced, and short-handed. What I can't understand is why we continue to rush only 3 or 4 defenders on almost every play. Opposing QB's have all day to pick apart our paper thin secondary. It seems to me that the best way to help out the guys on the back end is to bring pressure. WVU has 14 sacks and 2.5 QB hurries per game, meaning we affect the QB on less than 5 plays per game. That's nowhere near enough pressure on the opposing QB. Given enough time, college QB's can pick through even the best secondary. Jordan Lesley's defensive scheme seems to put the pressure on the front 3/4 to get all of the pressure. I feel like it's time to channel Will Patton in Remember The Titans. The results can't get much worse.
2. Our chances at a bowl game - As I mentioned above, we have 5 games left in the season. Three of those games are against ranked teams. A fourth is against Oklahoma. Unfortunately, the likelihood of the Mountaineers spending the holidays anywhere other than at home is extremely low.
3. Neal Brown - Neal continues to yo-yo near the top of the "Next coach to be fired" list. Before the Baylor game, he was at the top of the list. After the win in Morgantown, he dropped down to 4th. After today's embarrassment, he should skyrocket back to the top of the list. I'm not sure that firing him before the season's over does us any good, mostly because I don't see a potential interim coach on the staff. At this point, I say let him finish the season, but have a moving truck waiting for him on November 27th. I would prefer Shane Lyons not be allowed to make the next hire, but I can't see the WVU administration going for that much change at the same time.