That. Was. Fun. We’ve talked about it here (all the way back in 2021 for those wanting to keep receipts) that this program, this coach, and everything it was doing was just not fun, but yesterday, yesterday was absolutely fun.
At this point, we can know who and what Garrett Greene is, that is to say we have enough data points to know what his strengths and weaknesses are and how to gameplan, strategize, and what to expect when he takes the field. Greene is an energetic fireball, the guy who puts life into this team, something it desperately needs. He plays with passion, fire, exuberance, desire, heart, guts, all of the words synonymous with player, however, his passing needs work. On the season, he’s thrown the ball 159 times, completed 85 of them for 1,340 yards and 53%. Its not great, but its good enough. What Greene does not do is put the ball in harms way and that trait is far more important than the passing yards at the moment. Greene hasn’t given the ball away - he only has two interceptions. His QBR (the ESPN metric that measures QB overall grade (where 0 is the worst you can do and 100.0 is the best game ever played) over the past five games has been: 70.1, 81.5, 75.5, 83.4, 72.8. That’s darn good.
You just knew that a game like this was coming, if White would get the ball. Against Texas Tech he had 1 carry. Against TCU he had 5 carries. Against Houston he had 7 carries. He didn’t play against OSU and then against UCF he had 9 carries. His workload was slowly increasing and it paid off yesterday with a 16-carry, 146 yard performance where White looked significantly faster, more explosive, more dangerous, and simply better than anyone else on the field. White is only a freshman and you have to be excited to see such an explosive runner who can be a true difference maker on the field for the Mountaineers.
One criticism many people, including myself, have had about the teams over the past few years as been the lack of speed. The coaches talked about how much faster the team was last year, but whether it was the scheme being too complicated or the players being too new, no one looked “fast”. As my redneck hero Ricky Bobby always says “I wanna go fast”, and I want to go fast and be fast on the football field. We looked fast last night. We looked physical. We looked like a team that was a Power 5 school playing against inferior opponents. It’s supposed to look like that.
I don’t blame refs for games. Its not something I believe in. There are 60 minutes in a football game and there are plenty of things that can determine the outcome of a game so one play that was flagged cannot be the difference in a game. If that one play does determine the game, you didn’t do enough before hand. I believe that and I try to stick to it. Last night, was not one where the refs determined the game, but 20 flags is a lot. There were almost 200 yards of penalties between both teams and I find it hard to believe that the Mountaineers were so egregious with their penalties. I thought this felt like a Big 12 basketball game against Kansas where every single time someone touched a player, a flag was thrown. By the letter of the law the flags may have been good but I often believe in “letting teams play” and some of the flags felt unnecessary. I’m not a big fan of the personal fouls that were called where Greene went to slide and a player tackled him given that the player is within 1-2 yards and Greene is sliding late. I wasn’t a fan of the pass interference calls. No one is going to complain about the refs when you beat a team as thoroughly as we did, and I don’t believe that either team has been penalized as much as they were last night, so this felt like a weird one-off.
Neal Brown & Jordan Lesley
I know I have been critical and I feel that if I am going to be critical I should also be humble enough to give praise when kudos are due and kudos are due for these two. Last night was simply the best game of either’s tenure here. The largest conference margin of victory was 21 points when the Mountaineers beat Kansas State 38-17 in 2020. The largest margin of victory against a FBS team was 23 points when the Mountaineers beat Virginia Tech 33-10 last year in Blacksburg. They blew past both of those markers last night with a 30 point win against BYU. Lesley’s defense held BYU to 67 yards rushing and a 3.2 YPC average. They also held BYU to 3 of 14 on third and fourth downs. One of my big complaints with Lesley is his turnover defense and the Mountaineers are now +2 on the season.
Brown, much like his predecessor Dana, bet on himself this year. We mocked him as a playcaller but the offense is not the problem with this team. Through 9 games, West Virginia ranks 44th in total offense with 419 yards per game. They were at 399 yards per game last year and the only time they have been over 400 yards per game was 2020, which has its own caveats. The offense is averaging 31 points per game, which is the highest of Brown’s tenure here.