Week one is in the books and West Virginia just made it out alive against FCS powerhouse, James Madison. The low scoring affair isn’t ideal but given the circumstances, West Virginia fared well.
A quick look around the country, you realize it could be a lot worse. Tennessee fans are likely drinking the state dry as they try to erase the memory of the Georgia State loss. So while the win was ugly at times, it could have been far worse. But what does this mean moving forward?
Running Game Woes
Cannon Bus covered this in an earlier article(here) but it is worth reiterating, the ground game was brutal. Pettaway and McKoy carried the ball 20 times for a mere 31 yards. When looking at the returning players and the style offense that Neal Brown ran, this felt like a rush heavy offense. Even when they leaned more towards the passing game, 1.4 yards per carry on 24 carries is just unacceptable. As previously mentioned, JMU is no slouch and could beat a good portion of FBS schools. However this isn’t the 2018 Clemson defense. West Virginia needs to figure out a way to move the ball on the ground. Playing in the Big 12 means you need points, and a lot of them. For an offense that finished with under 300 yards against an FCS school, Neal Brown will have to get it figured out fast.
I’ll be the first to admit it, I didn’t think Austin Kendall would be that great. He felt like a guy that had heaps of praise just because he was in the best offensive system in football. His Spring and Fall camps were lack luster and I didn’t think he fit the system as well as a player like Trey Lowe.
I was wrong.
Kendall wasn’t lights out on the day but he is the reason they sit at 1-0. Two touchdowns, a 64% completion percentage and no interceptions is a solid day. He just needs to not make mistakes and Neal Brown took that away just to be safe. Short passes and controlling the ball could be exactly what West Virginia needs to stay competitive. Unfortunately, that will be difficult to do this year.
It Will Get Worse Before It Gets Better
With the Big 12 slate and both NC State and Missouri on the schedule, it will be a long year. It is week one under a new coach and a new roster, it will take time. But this team won’t rip off points next week just because they have another week in Brown’s system.
Missouri may have lost to Wyoming, but Kelly Bryant put up 400 yards and Missouri scored 31 points. Then going down the schedule with the likes of Texas, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma and Baylor, things will be ugly. This year is just a year to rebuild from loss of talent to the mess Dana left. Fortunately the Mountaineers have one of the better coaches that knows a thing or two about a rebuild.
Things will get worse before they get better, In the mean time, Fat Daddy’s will be stocked and there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
Started Saturday Tailgate in 2018. Covering all things college football and talking Notre Dame on Twitter.