MONDAY MORNING QUARTERBACK: WVU grabs big win
Despite a 35-17 loss to Texas Tech on November 9, head coach Neal Brown reaffirmed that his team would get significantly better and a successful program would be built at WVU.
The mood of Mountaineer fans was understandably skeptical, having just witnessed the low point of the 2019 season to date, and when Kansas State scored on a 68 yard touchdown pass on its first offensive play on Saturday there was an ominous “here we go again” feeling.
But West Virginia responded with a 75 yard scoring drive of its own and it didn’t take long to see that the change at the quarterback position would elevate the play of the offense and change the dynamics for the team.
Quarterback Jarret Doege, a transfer from Bowling Green where he was a starter for 16 games over two seasons, did not play during the first 8 games in 2019 in order to preserve his ability to have two full remaining seasons of eligibility in Morgantown. Doege tossed three touchdown passes, all on third down, and did not turn the ball over. He was described as a pocket passer and not a running quarterback, but one could quickly see that he had a deft ability to move in the pocket to extend plays. The winning 50 yard touchdown pass came on a 3rd and 22 play after he scrambled to the left and found Bryce Wheaton all alone for the score.
The Mountaineer defense then twice stopped Kansas State drives into West Virginia territory, the comeback 24-20 victory finally being preserved with an interception by Hakeem Bailey on the WVU 3 yard line with 35 seconds remaining.
This was a game where the Mountaineers avoided the failures that prevented success during their five game losing streak. West Virginia took advantage of all but one scoring opportunity, correcting red zone efficiency problems a week earlier. There were no turnovers by the offense, and after that first scoring play the defense held the Wildcats to only 13 points on five possessions into Mountaineer territory. Special teams were solid, the only blemish being a missed 37 yard field goal by backup kicker Casey Legg at the end of the first half. But Legg redeemed himself with a 51 yarder early in the fourth quarter. That last successful kick was a key, as it required Kansas State to score a touchdown on its last possession, which it was unable to do.
One game alone does not achieve a turnaround, but at least it was a first installment on Coach Brown’s promise.
THIS SATURDAY: Oklahoma State has been a thorn in the side of the Mountaineers, winning the previous four contests, including last season when WVU let a 17 point halftime lead slip away in a game where a win would have put West Virginia into the Big 12 Championship. It is the final home game of the 2019 season and the Mountaineers will enter the fray with renewed confidence. Although the Cowboys will still be favored, perhaps they will be peeking ahead to their rivalry game vs Oklahoma the following week. Is another upset asking too much? WEST VIRGINIA 28 OKLAHOMA STATE 27.