With the fourth game of the 2023 season concluded West Virginia University has beaten Texas Tech. This is the first time the Mountaineers have beaten the Red Raiders since Neal Brown has taken over the program. The last time WVU won was in 2018 under Dana Holgerson and quarterback Will Grier. Even more interesting, this is the first time Brown has won three in a row in his five seasons at the helm.
Mountaineers Win Three in a Row
In a rainy 3:30 pm start time for this Saturday’s college football game, WVU fans sat through the chilly weather to watch the team do something we haven’t seen in five seasons. With six wins and losses to Texas Tech before today’s game, Morgantown will be in a frenzy following the 20-13 win. The Mountaineers started playing the school in 2014, just two years after joining the Big 12 Conference. Last season, WVU fell to Texas Tech 48-10.
First Half Struggles & Improvements
During the first half of this game, the offense struggled. With Garrett Greene out due to his ankle, Nicco Marchiol took over as the starting quarterback. Marchiol struggled hard in the first half. He threw for XX yards and had two turnovers before halftime. The offense found it difficult to move down the field but scored a rushing touchdown thanks to CJ Donaldson and two field goals for 13 points.
Texas Tech’s quarterback was hurt during the first quarter, his ankle getting rolled in an unnatural motion. With their starting quarterback being carted off the field, WVU saw an opportunity to make something of the situation. Tyler Shough was two for six with three throwing yards before the incident. With the backup, Behren Morton, taking the field, the tone for the first half was set.
Despite how the defense looked last week, they seemed more well-rounded. The secondary managed to keep the Red Raiders stagnant with a field goal kick for the first half. This was a huge improvement to how the defense had looked in the first three games of the season. Compared to the season opener against Penn State, the WVU defense has done a much better job of converting on third downs.
After halftime, it was almost like the defense hit a wall. While they managed to keep Texas Tech from scoring, they managed to convert on fourth downs a significant amount of times. The Red Raiders were able to move down the field on us, which doesn’t bode well for the consistency of the secondary. It’s difficult to watch the defense perform so well and then seemingly regress in the same game.
In the end, the secondary came together. During Texas Tech’s final plays, the defense managed to break up their final attempts to tie the game. Beanie Bishop Jr. managed to tip a pass in the end zone, forcing the Red Raiders to search for a different way to get a touchdown. Two failed pass attempts later, the ball is turned over on downs and Marchiol makes the knee with 17 seconds left in the fourth.
Marchiol was able to take charge of the offense a little better, but he still struggled. This was his first start for the Mountaineers, so growing pains are to be expected. He ended the game with 12 for 21 on 78 yards and one touchdown. Marchiol also managed 15 carries for 72 yards, beating out Donaldson. He had 15 carries as well but for only 48 yards. Donaldson, as always, had a significant impact on the game for the Mountaineers, but another athlete stepped up today. Kole Taylor, a junior transfer from Louisiana State University, had three receptions for 39 yards.
At the end of the day, this team has some deficiencies to work through. Marchiol has made big strides since last week, but his inaccuracy will make things more difficult in the coming weeks. The defense was solid, despite a few moments where the unit wavered. The ability for the secondary to bounce back from hard plays is important, especially as we creep into the middle of conference play.