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What I Think About Keeping the Black Diamond Trophy

Back at even, the Mountaineers will hold the Black Diamond Trophy for a LONG time

NCAA Football: West Virginia at Virginia Tech Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Thursday night was fun. Thursday night reminded us why college football is the ultimate sport, more than basketball, more than the NFL, more than Major League Baseball. The pagentry of “Enter Sandman”, the hatred between two football fan bases, the 100% investment of everyone involved, both the coaching staffs, players and most importantly, the fans.

It felt good right. It felt better once the clock struck 0:00 and the good guys walked away with the most important things: a win and the trophy.

Running Backs

There isn’t much else to say about the trio of running backs, including freshman CJ Donaldson, other than he looks like the future of the Mountaineers at running back. In just his fourth collegiate game, he recorded his third 100-yard rushing game and this one was more of a workman like than the explosion upon the scene that we saw in Pittsburgh. Donaldson carried the ball 23 times for 106 yards. He averaged 4.6 yards per carry, and his longest carry was only 18 yards.

Johnson proved to be a decisive runner and when the Mountaineers needed him to keep drives alive in the third and fourth quarter, he did just that. The Mountaineers have shown that in the third quarter of games they are going to lean on their running game and try to slow the game down.

In the second half of the game, the Mountaineers ran the ball 24 times for 130 yards. The backs picked up yardage even if it were just one or two yards and then when the holes opened up they burst through picking up big gains.

JT Daniels

The man is legit. JT has proven just how important, if we didn’t already know, the quarterback position is. This was a game between a 5-star quarterback in Daniels and a 3-star quarterback in Wells. Daniels outplayed Wells and made some throws that you expect five-star quarterbacks to make. He fit the ball into tight windows and led his receivers open.

Daniels has played in rivalry games and big moments, and nothing that happens this season surprises him or makes him nervous. If the defense gives up a score, JT simply gathers his troops and goes back to the field and leads a drive.

I was very concerned in the game as the first half was closing that Virginia Tech would gather steam and get a score before half and then get the ball in the second half. Flipping the script, as they call it. Virginia Tech failed to get a drive going and Daniels made Tech pay, when he fired a gorgeous pass to Sam James, who saluted the troops for his effort.


For once, it was very nice to be on the other side of crippling mistakes and poorly timed penalties. West Virginia absolutely won this game, but Virginia Tech also lost this game. The Hokies had 15 penalties for 130 yards and gave the Mountaineers at least 5 first downs on ill-timed penalties.

For the first time this year, the Mountaineers turned the ball over but did not give up points - Pitt scored a touchdown on a fumble, then a touchdown on an interception. Kansas scored a touchdown on an interception.

West Virginia muffed a punt and it bounced out of bounds instead of into the arms of Virginia Tech. False starts didn’t derail drives. I do think it should be noted how many chances Virginia Tech gave the Mountaineers and how different this game could be if one or two of those chances goes against the Mountaineers, but that is how the past 38 games have gone. One or two mistakes went against the Mountaineers and they lost the game. This time, the mistakes didn’t go against them and the Mountaineers came out victorious.

Offensive Line

I’ve been very critical of the line and so its only fair if I praise the line. I thought they played very well. For the most part JT Daniels was kept clean and the running game has been consistent every game so far. I think its a chicken-and-egg scenario where Leddie Brown was a very good running back for the Mountaineers, but he was a throw back - 3-yards and a cloud of dust. The team now has some homerun hitters and so the line isn’t required to open up refrigerator sized holes for the backs to gain yardage. Donaldson and Johnson hit the hole hard and get up field. Mathis has the ability to put his foot in the ground and get upfield. The line is better and the backs make them look even better.

Defensive Line

I thought the defensive line was just ok this game. The team rushed three a lot and played a version of a Cover 4 Shell but there was very little pressure from the defensive line. They didn’t get blown off the ball and their stout play kept the Hokies from running the ball, especially in the middle but they didn’t generate much pressure.

Hot Seat Take

Neal Brown’s seat has cooled thanks to this victory and he, the team and the fans should absolutely enjoy it. It may be the last time the two teams play for 15 years or more, so enjoy holding the trophy for a long time.

I asked if this game was a “must-win” and the universal answer was, yes-but no. He wouldn’t be fired if he lost but he would lose the fan base. Everyone can breathe a small sigh of relief as Brown didn’t lose, but won in a very convincing fashion. There is still a long ways to go in the 2022 season and things can change in an instance, but for now Brown isn’t feeling the fire. One thing to keep in mind is that while you can work your way off the “hot seat” it doesn’t take much to get back on it. One game isn’t going to remove him from the hot seat but does give him a small breather.