What can you say about last Saturday that hasn’t already been said about a lobotomy? It was supposed to reduce Mountaineer Nation’s collective tension following a heart attack of a game against Pitt, but instead was marred by apathy, passivity, and a generally deflated emotional response. The optimist in me wonders if (hopes that?) the Kansas loss looks slightly better three months from now, but the college football fan in me knows that there’s no excuse to losing a home game when we score 42 points. It absolutely cannot happen.
As for Towson, I bear them no ill will but I hope that we beat them by 70. I don’t want to be respectful, I don’t want to call off the dogs, I just want 60 minutes of balls to the wall football. This team has to (HAS TO!) develop a killer instinct at some point, and there’s no better time than now.
Date: September 17th, 2022
Kickoff: 1:00PM EST
Where: Mountaineer Field at Mylan-Puskar Stadium - Morgantown, WV
Tickets: General Public
Online Streaming: ESPN app with a valid ESPN+ subscription
Radio: Mountaineer Sports Network from IMG (Radio Affiliates) | SiriusXM Channel 200 | WVU Gameday App (Apple | Android)
Radio Announcers: Tony Caridi (PBP), Dwight Wallace (analyst), and Jed Drenning (sideline)
Reminder: It is against site policy to post links to illegal streams in the comments.
Spread: WVU -38.5 on FanDuel
Should be an easy cover, right? Right?!?!
Sunny - 81 degrees - Wind 5mph
Ideal tailgating conditions, gang. Throw on some SPF 30 and have yourselves a day.
Where are they from? Baltimore, MD. I doubt that win will resonate with DMV ‘croots but we might as well thump them just in case.
All-time Series: 1-0. We’ve only played the Tigers one time - a 54-0 win in 2014.
The Last Time We Played: West Virginia 54-0 Towson, 2014. The Mountaineers followed up a hard-fought season opening loss to Alabama with an absolute thrashing of Towson at home.
Head coach: Rob Ambrose (13th season, 67-71). Ambrose is a Towson lifer, having played there from 1989-1991 before joining the staff in 1993 and ultimately taking over as HC in 2009. He’s had some success there and even had a National Championship appearance in 2013, but it has to be said that they’ve had more downs than ups in the nine years since.
2022 record: 2-0. Towson beat Bucknell 14-13 in overtime to open the season before winning the Baltimore Derby against Morgan State last weekend.
NUMBERS THAT MAY INTEREST YOU
9.5 - Penalties per game so far this year for our Mountaineers, good for 118th nationally. None have been more costly than Taijh Alston’s roughing the passer penalty in overtime last weekend, which proved to be the difference between a 45-yard field goal attempt for a 60% kicker and first and goal at the 5.
59.3% - 3rd down conversions allowed by the Mountaineer defense through 2 weeks, good for 128th nationally. I’d like to think that’s an unsustainably bad number, but I can’t see it improving by much without better play from the back half of our defense. Speaking of which...
9.9 - Yards allowed per passing attempt by our secondary so far this year. The fact that only three teams have allowed more is difficult to process.
-3 - Turnover margin through two games. We’re arguably two COMPLETELY UNFORCED turnovers away from being 2-0. It’d be nice if we could stop shooting ourselves in the face at some point.
5.0 - Yards per carry for Towson quarterback Tyrell Pigrome. We handled the mobile quarterback really well against Kansas so I’m sure this won’t be a problem. Everything is fine.
KEYS TO THE GAME
A quick foreword - the talent disparity is such that the matchups in this game should not really matter. Therefore, I’m going to focus more on what I’d like to see from our team.
60 MINUTES OF GAS
I alluded to it in my opening thoughts, and we spent some time discussing it in the most recent episode of West By Pod, but this team has to develop a killer instinct at some point. We have to stop playing on the back foot and start stepping on throats. I don’t want to hurt anybody from Towson, but I want to see a wholesale three-phase ass-whipping. Hold them under 100 yards. Put up a first half 50-burger. Put some weight behind the Tuesday press conference word salad and make these MF’s feel like whatever it is that we paid them wasn’t damn near enough.
JOIN WITH US YOUNG LADS
I’m looking at you here, secondary. I’ve had it up to here ***gestures vaguely above my head*** with hearing about how “X young guy isn’t quite ready” and “the guys who practice well will play” when whatever the coaches are seeing in practice during the week translates into whatever the hell we bore witness to last Saturday. The numbers above speak for themselves - through two games this secondary has been as bad a group as I can remember in my lifetime. Charles Woods being hurt doesn’t help, but not one single guy has stepped up and made any kind of difference in his absence. Rashad Ajayi and Wesley McCormick have looked a step off the pace from Pitt Q1, and with all due respect to Malachi Ruffin, who probably does everything right, Saturday was a prime example of why he was a walk-on. IDGAF what he’s doing in practice, that guy has no business playing meaningful snaps against a P5 opponent, especially when we have young dudes like Jacoby Spells, Mumu Bin-Wahad, and Christion Stokes waiting for a crack. You’re telling me Mumu was ready for snaps against Pitt but not Kansas?? And where the hell is Andrew Wilson-Lamp? The guy was listed as a starter on every depth chart we saw from spring right up until the final fall 2-deep was released, yet he’s played... exactly 0 defensive snaps through two games? What gives?
This is the same BS we saw last year with Woods, who didn’t play for the first 6 games before becoming our best defensive player for the second half of the season. Whatever else happens Saturday, we have to start leaning into the youth movement on the back end of our defense, if only to see what we have, because it’s clear that the old guys are what they are, and what they are just isn’t cutting it. Let’s get these young bucks some snaps Saturday and then throw them into the fire next Thursday in Blacksburg. It literally can’t be worse than what we’ve seen so far.
WORST LINEBACKERS I SEEN SINCE JOE MONTANYA
Even as bad as the secondary has been, I don’t think that I missed the boat anywhere in my preseason evaluations as much as I did with our linebackers. I literally thought Lee Kpogba and Lance Dixon had the potential to be the best tandem in the conference, and maybe they still do, but man have they looked lost during these first two games. To their credit, they are as athletic and physical as advertised, but unfortunately you still have to be in the right spots to have any kind of impact on the game.
According to PFF, these guys have allowed completions on 100% of the throws that have targeted them and have an average tackle depth on running plays of 4.0 and 5.4 yards, respectively. Those numbers rank 23rd and 26th among 27 qualifying Big 12 linebackers, and their overall defensive grades are both bottom six in the conference, as well. They’re racking up tackles, but raw tackling numbers don’t mean shit if our opponents are halfway to a first down before we get them on the ground. We need a lot more out of that position.
Looking ahead to Saturday... Towson won’t be quite as tricky as Kansas was with their zone read/triple option stuff, but they do do it, and boy would it be nice to see our linebackers learn from last weekend’s mistakes and start making some plays at or near the LOS.
HOW AFRAID SHOULD WE BE?
0 out of 10. Simple as.
I don’t even know, gang. If it’s anything less than a bloodbath I’m going to have to rethink my whole entire life. Please just beat the hell out of them.