clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

MUSKET MAILBAG: Tony Mathis, Team Ceiling and Where Do We Go From Here?

We go to Austin on Saturday.

The Musket Mailbag

Is this one of the most overall talented WVU teams as a whole? Also a follow up. With the current young roster and incoming highly ranked recruiting class what is the true ceiling for WVU football?

According to the recruiting rankings, yes. As a whole, the recruiting under Neal Brown has been ticking upwards. In 2020, the first year Neal was able to recruit kids, the average rank for the class 86.44. In 2021, that ticked up to 87.21. In 2022, that dropped slightly to 86.82. The current 2023 class has an average ranking of 86.94.

For context, an 87.21 player is about the 700th best player in the nation, while 86.94 is the 754th best player, 86.82 is the 796th best player and 86.44 is the 877th best player. For some added context, the last three years of the Holgorsen era had average rankings of 84.18 in 2017, 86.40 in 2018 and 85.74 in 2019. So Brown has definitely increased the overall talent on the team.

As far as ceiling, with the right quarterback, West Virginia has the chance to win the Big 12. It has shown that it can play with any team in the league, but in my opinion, between coaching, overall player talent and schemes, West Virginia is more of a 7-8 win team in the current Big 12 and probably an 8-9 win team in the future Big 12. Some of that depends on out-of-conference schedule and some of that depends on luck, but 8-9 wins going forward would be my expectation yearly with a “it all came together year” of 10 wins and a conference championship berth.

The Conference is wide open. What percent chance does WVU have to making Big XII Championship this season? 0%? Or…?

At 0-1 in conference, the Mountaineers are behind the eight-ball so to speak, but there is nothing that says they can’t run the rest of the table. Realistically, I don’t think they will make the championship this season. There are likely at least two more losses on the schedule at minimum and maybe even 4 more. You aren’t making the conference championship game with more than 2 conference losses. That rule has held true every year since 2017 when they brought back the CCG.

How do we keep the talent on this year’s team from transferring out?

Promise them more money? I’m not sure there is much you can do if someone like Georgia, Miami, USC, or another “blue-blood” comes around and says you can start and make money. That said, the donors in charge have recognized that schools are pilfering our players with the promise of more money, so they are doing what they can to raise money for our star athletes. The other way you keep players - win games. Players don’t like losing.

Is this the year we finally beat OK? Mathis in the doghouse over that fumble? I think he is a great back.

He is still listed as the starter and I expect he will “start” but I think we’re starting to see that Donaldson is the feature back and Johnson is the better compliment. Mathis is likely on a short leash and I’m not sure he can afford any more miscues. Still, Donaldson is a true freshman and Johnson has played very limitedly. I wouldn’t expect Mathis to sit much and benching him likely leads to him leaving in the offseason.

Is it fair and appropriate to take extra joy out of Miami giving up 4 75 yard+ passes and getting whipped by MTSU on Saturday? Cause I’m feeling it extra.

It’s college football. If you can’t extract joy out of other teams misery, what in the world are you watching for? I certainly don’t watch Oklahoma games because I like the team.

How about just a simple: where do we go from here?

Brown needs to win. He’s 2-2. 2-4 feels like a failure and more of the same. 4-2 feels like we hit the nitrous and 3-3 feels like we got out of first gear. I remain that this team with five-star quarterback JT Daniels and super senior Dante Stills needs to win 7 or more games. If not, I view it as a failure. Others may or may not, but I don’t think the schedule is any tougher than previous years and we have “better talent”. It needs to start showing. Brown needs to win. If he continues to flirt with .500, it’s going to be a tough slog of a season.

Other than Jacoby Spells, was there anything about the pass defense that made you think it might be improved the next time it faces a decent P5 passing attack?

The pick-six was nice, but if Wells was more accurate and the wind wasn’t nearly as vicious, that easily could have been a back-and-forth game or a VT win. The Mountaineers got a lot of good bounces, which they deserved after getting so many bad ones, but still, that felt a lot like VT gave the game away and refused to want to win rather than the Mountaineers turning a corner. If Ewers plays on Saturday and is healthy, it could be a long day and more of a shoot out like Pitt.

What happens in 47 days? Revenge!

November 11, 2022 - Backyard Basketbrawl. Mark it down.

Then I watched ALL The BIGXII games & felt like I can’t tell iffn we’re a 4-8 team or an 8-4 team. Sure it was nice to Totally Embarrass the gobblers in blacksburg (Pound Sand y’all!!) & seeing BOTH the dirt burglars AND the DOUBLE whorens DOWN go down to ignominious defeats is nice—But are we really any good ?!?! Or are we (at 2-2) just “mediocre” as some here contend? Can our Secondary keep up with what the BIGXII QB’s are throwing ?? Can we even begin to stop Adrian Martinez?? Is this another 6-6 year?!

Are we good? Define good. Good teams don’t make the same mistakes year after year.

Are we mediocre? Talent wise? No. Coaching wise? Remains to be seen. I’m in prove me wrong mode at this point.

Secondary - I think they will get better but through four games its not looking good. We brought transfers in with experience and they look lost.

Can we stop Martinez? I suspect we will fare better against Martinez than Daniels.

Really quick, if I were an OC going against WVU, I would motion every. single. play. That seems to be the biggest thing for us. If a team motions and shows something new, we are lost.