NINE. One more than eight, one less than ten. For only the tenth time in school history the football team won exactly 9 games and for the 20th time in school history it won at least nine games. Its an accomplishment. It should be applauded and the hope that you feel right now should carry you through the next 7 months. This was good. It was cathartic. It was needed. Let’s get into it.
Congrats to Neal Brown
Brown, on one of the hottest seats in the country, rallied his players and his program and refused to bow. He took over playcalling, withstood the shots of the fans and came out the winner in 2023. Brown has had a rocky relationship in his first five years as the Mountaineer head coach but things appear to be heading in the right direction. There were plenty of chances this year for the wheels to fall off and this team to slump back into the mediocrity that has plagued the team from 2019-2022, but it didn’t. The team shook off the adversity and powered through, reaching the other side and the second bowl win of Brown’s tenure.
Neal Brown went from being picked to finish dead last in the Big 12 to winning nine games and having mayo dumped on him. I love this sport. pic.twitter.com/Bmqvmx0FHY— Derek Duke (@DerekDuke25) December 28, 2023
I think its extremely clear that Greene is the single reason for the turnaround this season and Greene is the MVP of the bowl game, the season and is the savior of Brown’s coaching career. Greene simply is a magician, blessed with speedy legs and a strong arm, he makes plays. On the first play of the game he hit Traylan Ray on a beautiful crossing play that resulted in a 75-yard touchdown. Later in the game, he found Hudson Clement on the sideline as the first half was winding down to put the Mountaineers in position for a field goal and a 17-10 lead at halftime.
In the third half, he kept the ball and raced almost 50 yards yards to help setup a Jahiem White touchdown that stretched the lead to 27-10 and all but put the nail in the coffin of UNC. Greene finished the day with 228 yards passing and 1 touchdown through the air, plus 9 rushes for 68 yards. He finished the year sacked only 5 times and only threw 4 interceptions and I don’t think that’s because the line is spectacular. It’s because Greene can escape plays and make things happen.
2023 In Review
I know so many people are going to enjoy this win and then look back on 2023 and say “man without that hail mary in Houston this could have been a ten-win season” and yes it could have been but as the cold water in your face please let me remind you that you were also a dropped touchdown pass against Texas Tech, two blocked field goals against TCU and an improbable wheel route against Baylor from being 5-7. The ball bounced our way this year and credit to my buddy Jordan who kept saying “why can’t we get a few good bounces”. So don’t dwell on being so close to 10 wins but enjoy the 9 and hope we can do it again next year.
Bowl Game Crowd
Mountaineer fans were excited about this game. Everytime this game was talked about, you could hear the Mountaineer faithful singing and chanting and showing their love of the team. For three weeks, fans waited and waited for this game and when then game finally showed up, 42,000 people filled Bank of America Stadium. Of those 42,000, well over 30,000 were Mountaineer fans. I could hear “Lets Go Mountaineers” and “Sweet Caroline.....” all night through my television. Every crowd shot showed tons of tons of old gold and blue. It is exactly how a bowl game should be and after several years of disappointing bowls, it felt good to be excited about a bowl game and to have one close enough to drive to.
Goodbye to 2023
I leave you with this. Play it loud. Play it proud. Sing it with all the conviction you can. It never sounded so sweet. (And by god, do no put mayo on your pepperoni roll). I love you all. LETS GO