It is official. After all of the speculation, wondering and “what ifs” that have surrounded the West Virginia Mountaineers, Neal Brown and his team put to rest any doubt of the forthcoming situation that will undoubtedly unfold in the next week. Clinging to the life raft of a win out and become bowl eligible, salvage your record at the school and next year, finally next year, get things right and on track, the Mountaineers were completely listless on defense in the first half, on offense the second half and lost. Again.
I’m not going to spend any more brain power discussing what needs to be done with this head coach. He’s done and will be fired most likely right after the Oklahoma State game next week. The school will need to get a jump on the coaching search and can’t afford to wait and should not wait until after bowl season.
I do want to discuss records. At 4-7 now, Brown has ensured that his team will finish below .500 for the third time in a four year stretch. At 21-25, he has ensured that he cannot finish above .500 as the head coach of the program, unless he comes back (which I think we all know by now he won’t). At 4-7 he has ensured that his program will miss a bowl game for the second time in four years.
More importantly, the preparation of this team continues to be wrong in so many ways. West Virginia was held to 0 points in the third quarter, their 12th such scoreless period of the season. For comparison, TCU has 6 on the year. More so, his teams have been by bad defensive halves combined or bad offensive halves. His teams fail to put together a good offensive half combined with a good defensive half.
Against Kansas, the defense was bad both halves but the offense faltered in the second half. Loss.
Against Texas, a bad first half defense and bad first half offense contributed to a hole the team couldn’t climb out of. Loss.
Against Texas Tech, both halves were bad on both sides of the ball. Loss.
Against Baylor, the team finally put together a strong defensive half and strong offensive half in the second half of the game. Win.
Against TCU, a bad defensive half in the first meant that the lead was insurmountable when the offense faltered in the second. Loss.
Against Iowa State, bad halves by the offense meant the good defensive first half was squandered. Loss.
Against Oklahoma, a bad first half offense nearly meant the game was over before a QB change saved the day. Win.
Against Kansas State, a bad defensive first half meant the second half struggles were the end of the season. Loss.
Say what you want, but that first quarter was wild. 28-19 after 15 minutes! Both teams had a pick-six. Sam James has a 26-yard and a 71-yard touchdown catch. 25 minutes into the game it was 35-25. It was going to be a loss but at least it was fun. This is the type of offense I want for West Virginia. A power-zone, deep shot offense. Maybe Greene is the guy to be able to run it, maybe not. Maybe it’s Nicco. Maybe its someone not on the roster, but the type of offense we saw, where the team has the ability to run the ball, control the clock, in theory protect its defense AND take deep shots and score on chunk plays, that is what I want.
Greene brought both the highs and lows of his play in that first quarter. You saw it on the interception. Greene was late in his delivery, allowing the cornerback to cut underneath the throw. It was a three man, clear out route with two receivers running deep go routes, and Sam James running a in-route. James flattened his route out to pick up the first down and Greene was late on the throw, which resulted in a pick-six, but you also saw antcipation on the deep throws to James and more importantly, when West Virginia needed to pick up a fourth down when they were down 14-0, Greene’s mobility allowed him to break the pocket, which forced the linebacker to clear his zone. Greene saw this and zipped a pass to Brantham as the linebacker cleared out. That is exactly what a mobile QB does. He doesn’t always have to run, but the threat of runs forces the defense to make a decision and open up lanes.
It’s been four years since we’ve seen Sam James be a factor in a game. Back in 2019, James burst on the scene when he had a 9 catches for 155 yards against NC State. Six games later he exploded for 14 catches and 224 yards against Texas Tech. 35 games later, Sam James has his third 100-yard game of his career. His three touchdowns are more than he had in 2019 and 2020. He had 5 in 2021 and it matched his total for this year (3).
There is no reason that a fifth year senior, who had two 100-yard receiving games as a freshman and who has track level speed, should be held to less than 100-yards receiving. It’s criminal. It is also criminal that somehow James did not have a catch in the second half.
Announced attendance was 37,000. West Virginia hasn’t had such a low attendance since the Iowa State game in 2013 when the team finished 4-8. I feel bad for Dante Stills, who’s final home game was that disaster of a game and in front of a half-full stadium. The senior deserved better but the fans deserved better. If you are going to ask fans to show up when its freezing cold on Thanksgiving break, give them a better product.
Here is Brown’s post-game press conference. I’ve listened to this a few times now and I am growing tired of the complaints about minor penalties. West Virginia didn’t have its extra point team ready AFTER A TOUCHDOWN. On West Virginia’s first drive of the second half, West Virginia was flagged for five different penalties, including illegal shift, false start and a delay of game. Don’t complain about penalties and play every game to be a 3-point game so they don’t impact every little thing.
I loved that Hubbard blew up the K-State defender who pushed Greene. I still feel like team played with more energy, fire and desire with Greene on the field.
Casey Legg, I feel for you. What a bad day. I hope you are ok.