MONDAY MORNING QUARTERBACK: Results so far mixed for WVU
With losses of many quality starters from the previous year and a new coaching regime, the expectations of most WVU football fans entering the 2019 football season were modest. With one third of the regular season completed the results have been mixed, which was anticipated.
On the down side a thrashing at the hands of Missouri told us that when lining up against good quality football teams there remains a talent deficit that will take time to rectify. But there have been some positives in the remaining three games, all of which the Mountaineers won.
In each of those victories the outcome was very much in doubt as the games played out. WVU trailed at halftime in one, was tied in a second, and had just a three-point lead in a third. But in the second half in those three victories West Virginia outscored its opponents by an aggregate 59-29. The Mountaineers made the plays that were the difference between winning and losing, and completed September with a 3-1 record.
Admittedly James Madison, North Carolina State and Kansas are not opponents of high quality but West Virginia itself realistically is still just an average team in the college football landscape. The important result is thus far the Mountaineers have prevailed in games they had an opportunity to win.
Unfortunately a look at the remaining Big 12 Conference schedule shows those opportunities for wins will be more difficult. It would not be surprising if the Mountaineers were underdogs in all but perhaps one of their remaining eight games.
One of the mottos of the 2019 squad is #TrustTheClimb. I think in part that tells us when aspiring to an ultimate goal there will be times when adversity occurs, but success can only be achieved if total commitment to the goal continues. During the remainder of the season on occasions the Mountaineers will fall into some crevices in this upward climb, but as new coach Neal Brown emphasized after the Missouri loss, we should not be discouraged. Patience will be needed
THIS SATURDAY: When Texas hired Tom Herman prior to the 2017 season their fans believed they were on the brink of returning to the glory days of Longhorn football. While that climb of their own hasn’t yet achieved its goal, there is no question the burnt orange-clad competitors are on an upward course. Last season Texas made it to the Big 12 Championship game, and their only loss this season was in a close finish to highly ranked LSU. The Mountaineers again face a talent deficit, and fans will witness an outstanding playmaker in quarterback Sam Ehlinger.
On the positive side WVU will have an enthusiastic home crowd, the Longhorns have some significant injuries in their secondary, and they could be peeking ahead to their biggest game of the season against Oklahoma the following Saturday.
But it is unlikely Texas will look past WVU as they have lost to the Mountaineers three of the past four seasons. They also purported to be offended by Will Grier’s “Horns Down” gesture towards Texas fans at Austin last season, which seems a bit silly, but sometimes coaches latch on to whatever they can as motivation. TEXAS 34, WEST VIRGINIA 21.