Next WVU game won’t be so easy

The weakest opponent on WVU’s schedule probably came at a good time for the Mountaineers as they played in fits and starts on the way to an expected easy 48-21 win over Kansas.

WVU played much of the game as if their minds were elsewhere. The offense was sluggish through most of the first quarter, but the running game did come to life long enough in the second stanza for the Mountaineers to put the game away with a 31-0 halftime lead. With Rushel Shell nursing an injured ankle, running backs Justin Crawford and Kennedy McCoy both looked strong as they gained 129 and 127 yards, respectively. One concern is McCoy appeared to have banged up his shoulder on his last carry. With injury problems at the running back position one wonders why McCoy was still carrying the ball in the waning minutes of a game long decided.

The defense did its job in the first half, but with the large lead went through the motions the rest of the way, as the Jayhawks tallied 21 second-half points and totaled over 400 yards on the day.

But despite the uneven performance, the Mountaineers did what they needed against a woeful Kansas squad. It is evident how lacking the Jayhawks are on talent at this level of competition. One may look at an Iowa State for example, with a similar 1-8 record and think they are on the same level, but the Cyclones are still a competitive tough out. Kansas is in a class by itself, and not the one you want to be in. They have a long road back to respectability.

With a field pass I had the opportunity to watch the warmups, pregame, and most of the first half at field level. It is an interesting and different perspective. The game looks faster. Even the band looks faster. Of course at my age everything looks a bit faster.

THIS SATURDAY: For the first time since joining the Big 12 West Virginia enters the month of November with a legitimate chance of competing for the conference title. But getting there will require navigating a difficult finishing slate that includes a trip to play Texas this Saturday.

While on paper this game may appear relatively even, there are circumstances that will make it an uphill climb for the Mountaineers. The Longhorns have won back-to-back games and are improving. Although not strong defensively, they do have a good pass rush, and protecting the quarterback has been a past concern for WVU. Texas has ramped up its running game through D’Onta Foreman, who amassed a scary 341 yards Saturday at Texas Tech. Their true freshman quarterback Shane Buechele is improving by the week. The Longhorns are playing to save Charlie Strong’s job, and will have 100,000 fans cheering them on. Although I am hoping that if you see me next week you will shame me for being wrong, at this point I see a difficult landscape.