That was a tough one last weekend, gang. We had a chance to do something special and didn’t, which is even more disappointing because I think we generally accomplished most of what needed to accomplish to make a game out of it and simply didn’t pay it off. Offensively, the best defense we’ll play knew we were going to run, they sold out to stop it, and we were able to establish the run and keep third downs mostly manageable anyways. That’s fairly encouraging. That we missed some easy throws and allowed those drives to stall out is unfortunate, but it wasn’t bad until *that* 4th down. Defensively, we slowed down Penn State’s ground game enough that it forced Drew Allar into the spotlight, and it just turned out that maybe he’s as good as advertised. That’s a bummer, but probably not all that surprising considering Allar’s pedigree. Overall, I think the most positive takeaway is related to the latter point - the front 7 was physical and was able to generate pressure, and that’s something we should be able to build on going forward.
Date: September 9th, 2023
Kickoff: 6:00PM EST
Where: Mountaineer Field, Mylan Puskar Stadium, Morgantown, WV
Live TV: ONLY AVAILABLE ON ESPN+
Radio: Mountaineer Sports Network from IMG (Radio Affiliates) | WVU Gameday App (Apple | Android)
Radio Announcers: Tony Caridi (PBP), Dwight Wallace (analyst), and Jed Drenning (sideline)
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I haven’t been able to find anything yet on the major sports books, but you figure we have to be 4 or 5 touchdown favorites at least, right?
Sunny - high 80/63 low - Wind 4 mph
Forecast is calling for 76 with a dash of rain in the area. A great day to blandly run the ball down Duquesne’s throat.
Where are they from: Pittsburgh, PA.
All-time Series: 4-3-1. Had to look this one up. Mountaineers and Dukes met eight times on the gridiron between 1914 and 1935, with the good guys thankfully holding a slight edge.
The Last Time We Played: 11/16/1935, West Virginia 0-19 Duquesne. I think we all remember how the Dukes waltzed into Morgantown and shut us out on our own field. Payback’s a long time coming.
Head coach: Jerry Schmidt (19th season, 113-77). The Pittsburgh native has produced winning seasons in 15 of his 19 years in charge, but the Dukes have also never won more than 9 games in the span. On paper dude seems like your classic 7/10.
2023 record: 1-0. The Dukes battered the Edinboro Fighting Scots 49-7 last weekend, which I assume is basically the equivalent of us battering them this weekend.
WOMEN LIE, MEN LIE, NUMBERS DON’T
19 - Pressures by the Mountaineer defense in Happy Valley last weekend. Noteworthy among those were the 8 generated by linebackers Lee Kpogba and Tray Lathan. We unfortunately didn’t get home enough to truly bother the exceptionally game Drew Allar, but it was nice to see us getting consistent pressure against one of the better offenses we’ll play. More of that, please and thank you.
55.5% - 15 of Garrett Greene’s 27 passing attempts targeted a receiver fewer than 10 yards downfield, with 6 of those targeting dudes behind the line of scrimmage. Feels weird to me to complain about a lack of explosive plays in the passing game when more than half of our plays are designed to go to non-YAC receivers in YAC situations.
28.6% - Only 10 of Greene’s 35 dropbacks involved play or RPO action on Saturday night, good for 65th nationally among FBS quarterbacks with at least 20 dropbacks. For context, the highest numbers nationally are in the 80s while most of the offenses who play the way I think we should are between 40 and 50. Feels weird to me to complain about a lack of explosive plays in the passing game while severely underutilizing a well-established running game to set those big plays up.
38.5 - Percentage of Duquesne quarterback Darius Perrantes’ passes that travelled at least 20 yards in the air against Edinboro last weekend. He completed 4 of them for 125 yards and 2 tuddies. They want to run the ball if they can but this guy’s definitely down to chuck when given the opp.
WHEN WE HAVE THE BALL...
West Virginia Players to Watch: QB6 Garrett Greene, RB4 CJ Donaldson, RB0 Jaylen Anderson, TE87 Kole Taylor
Duquesne Players to Watch: DT97 Kevin Kurzinger, CB8 Ayden Garnes, FS31 Antonio Epps
We (I) spent all offseason talking ourselves (myself) into the idea that this had to be the year things changed offensively, but I can’t help but feel like we’re still stuck between two worlds. On the one hand, I do think that Neal Brown understands and appreciates that our personnel is best suited to be a power running offense, and the balance of play calls against Penn State (60% run) seemed to reflect that. On the other hand, it seems that rather than implement any new ideas that would maybe better allow those skill sets to mesh and thrive, he’s trying to pigeonhole them into the same old air raid concepts that he’s utilized for the last decade.
The passing game especially seems lost, but this is as good a week as any for us to find ourselves. Let’s mix in some more play action/RPO. Let’s stop expecting big-bodied wide receivers to make two dudes miss and break a big play on a screen pass. Let’s get our extremely athletic quarterback moving outside of the pocket, run some pass catchers across the formation, and put defenders in conflict. Let’s, I don’t know, maybe play to our strengths?
WHEN THEY HAVE THE BALL...
Duquesne Players to Watch: QB7 Darius Perrantes, RB23 JaMario Clements, RB00 Taj Butts, WR4 DJ Powell
West Virginia Players to Watch: DE91 Sean Martin, LB1 Lee Kpogba, LB19 Tray Lathan, S2 Aubrey Burks
See above - it’s becoming borderline infuriating that we’re having an identity crisis here. We have an athletic, physical front 7 that has consistently shown over two seasons now that, when given the opportunity, they have the ability to get into the backfield and create havoc. So why do we seem hesitant to let them do it on a more regular basis and play passive on the back end when we do? CAN WE PLEASE PLAY TO OUR MF’ING STRENGTHS?
Let’s dominate the line of scrimmage on early downs, force the Dukes into passing situations, and then go get their quarterback. Keep it simple. Football can be a complex game, but there are also times where it’s as hard as you make it.
X-FACTOR - LET THE YOUNG BUCKS RUN
Let’s end it early and get the young lads some tick. That means real snaps for Nicco, and real touches for Jaheim, Rodney, and Traylon. On the other side, let’s see what we have with Cutter, Heard, Spells, and Stokes. Our ceiling goes up every time one of these young dudes give us some pop.
0 out of 10. Fire the entire staff into the sun if they find a way to make this one stressful.
The Dukes are a solid bunch as far as FCS programs go, but let’s be honest - this one shouldn’t be interesting after halftime. They are wholly overmatched on both sides of the ball and there’s no reason to get cute and let them hang around. Let’s run these fools off the field and get ready for Pitt next weekend. LET’S GO!