Forty-two games. It has been Forty-two games of the Neal Brown era and yesterday was the 9th time in twenty-two losses that the West Virginia Mountaineers have lost by at least 21 points. It also marked the fourth time that the Mountaineers have lost to the Texas Tech Red Raiders, a team Brown used to coach for and one he has never beaten as the head coach of the Mountaineers.
Daniels is a very cerebral quarterback, one who is going to be a fantastic coach when his playing days are done, however, right now for the Mountaineers, they need him to be a whole lot more than just a cerebral leader. He can diagnose plays and he can make the right reads but can he lead?
Yesterday was the worst game of his career by all the accounts I’ve read and heard. It was the first time he’s thrown three interceptions in a game. For the second time in three games, Daniels finished a game with a QBR less than 50 and the third time he’s finished with less than 210 yards passing. After a three game stretch where he did not throw an interception, he’s now thrown four interceptions in the last two games. In the past five games, he’s thrown five touchdowns, four interceptions, and hasn’t broken 300 yards passing in any of them.
Daniels looks off and I’m not sure what it is. I don’t know if he’s figuring out that his passes have to be perfect because there is almost no separation by the receivers, if he is starting to feel the pressure of wanting to win and forcing throws or if he has an undisclosed injury, something has been off.
It isn’t fair to criticize Daniels without mentioning just how much the wide receivers have not helped him out. I was recently on a podcast where I stated that Daniels hasn’t elevated the play of the team, which is one factor of a great quarterback, but it might be hard to elevate certain players. Is Daniels to blame when he throws a third down or fourth down throw and the receivers drop it, time and time and time and time again?
West Virginia receivers are near the top of the stats in contested targets but who is to blame for that? Is that a scenario of a quarterback believing in his receivers and “giving them a chance” or is that a scenario of receivers being unable to create separation?
According to Pro Football Focus, the Mountaineers as a team have 230 yards after reception (YAC) as a team. IT was reported that TTU had 223 against us. PFF is a bit more restrictive and only has the Red Raiders at 81 against us, but the fact remains that the Mountaineers do not generate yards after the catch. This matches the contested catch argument, in that it is very hard to generate additional yards after the catch if everything you catch is with a defensive back draped on you and its made even tougher because the Mountaineers aren’t a quick strike team - requiring an average of 9 plays per scoring drive.
This has been a consistent theme for the past four years and its one that is extremely frustrating coming off a period of time when catch and runs were common scenes at Mountaineer Field.
I’m not really sure what to say here. It isn’t going to get better and whatever we thought we saw against Baylor was a mirage. We thought it might be giving that the Mountaineers won by three and needed a fumble returned for a touchdown, a blocked extra point returned for a two-point conversion, two additional fumbles and an interception. All of that “havoc” only generated a 3-point win.
The Mountaineers currently rank: (removing Towson from the stats along with every team’s FCS opponent)
125th in points allowed (38.2 points per game)
106th in yards allowed (444.2 yards per game)
125th in passing defense (305.2 yards per game)
55th in rushing defense (139.1 yards per game)
Neal Brown has made it a point to be a run-focused team, being able to run the ball and stop the run. Perhaps that mantra just doesn’t work in the Big 12.
Havoc creates pressure, pressure creates turnovers, turnovers create points. Its a cycle of consistently that has played true in college football for the past 100+ years. Tackle your opponent behind the line of scrimmage, tackle the quarterback before he passes the ball, stop a pass from being completed, knock the ball loose and pick the ball off are very good ways to keep the other team from scoring and giving your team a chance to win. You want to be around 15% havoc in a game. If you can be closer to 20%, that’s a great day.
Texas Tech ran 103+ plays. 15% would have 16 havoc plays. 20% would have been 21. West Virginia generated 12 - 1 sacks, 5 tackles for loss, 2 passes defended, 3 QB hurries plus 1 fumble.