After the opening season loss against Maryland, the West Virginia Mountaineers cruised in their home opener. While the defense blanked the Sharks, the offense cruised putting 66 points on the board, the most since their 70-63 win against Baylor in WVU’s inaugural Big 12 season. While rotating starters and backups for much of the game, the Mountaineers smack LIU 66-0.
Mountaineers Smack LIU
Running Game Woes Continue
We wrote in our game preview, that the Mountaineers needed to establish the run early and often. Unfortunately, while the staff tried to do that, the offensive line could not establish leverage against the vastly outmatched LIU Sharks.
To put this in perspective, FIU ran for 318 yards last week in their 48-10 win over the Sharks. FIU averaged over ten yards per carry. West Virginia, however, had just 183 rushing yards with eight minutes left in the fourth quarter. They failed to cover a single yard in two attempts near the goal line. Then, they failed to convert on on fourth-and-one with just over a minute left in the game.
Garrett Greene accounted for 98 of those rushing yards. He and Justin Johnson combined to average over five yards per carry. Leddie Brown averaged less than two yards per carry, and Tony Mathis averaged less than three.
Simply, that output is not good enough. As a unit, we thought they would be a strength given the amount of talent added in the last two off-seasons. However, the running game has really failed to control the line of scrimmage in any meaningful way. Needless to say, this has to improve over the next several weeks.
Greene Gives The Mountaineers Options
To put it mildly, the offense looked completely different with Greene under center than it did with Jarret Doege. Greene handled the run-pass option plays well. Greene routinely evaded pressure and turned would-be sacks into positive yardage. Despite showing off his legs, Greene’s arm also looked good. He finished four of seven with 67 yards.
For better or worse, Doege did look like the more complete signal-caller of the two, as he finished 14 of 22 with 267 yards and three touchdowns. That said, at the very least, Greene opens up two parts of the offense that have not been very good under Doege: the deep ball and a true run-threat from behind center. That alone will force opposing defenses to spend time preparing both looks.
As we wrote in our preview, we hoped to see Head Coach Neal Brown roll with Greene at least some in the first half to give him meaningful first-team reps. Indeed, he did, given Greene the reins for one drive to begin the second quarter.
Wright Is Special
We saw significant glimpses of Winston Wright’s game-breaking ability last week against Maryland. Two big kick returns very much kept West Virginia in that game. This weekend, Wright showed he wasn’t satisfied. He took the opening kick 91 yards for an opening touchdown.
Wright also finished with three receptions for 59 yards. Wright’s speed is deceptive, and he will be a big weapon for this team going forward.
On To Virginia Tech
It is hard to imagine that Brown learned too much about his team this week against LIU. They did what they should have done, and they won decisively. As we noted above, they learned that their offensive line still has a lot of work to do, particularly in the run game.
They will need to find a way to give the offensive line an edge going forward. The first unit and the second unit failed to show the toughness that will be required going forward. Virginia Tech may not be the top-tier ACC team they were a decade ago, but they are definitely superior to LIU. A one-dimensional team will not find success going forward.