(Photo via WVU Athletics)
After a 2-2 start to the 2022 season, many Mountaineer fans have voiced their displeasure with Coach Neal Brown. If I’m being honest, I found myself in that boat – particularly after sitting out in the rain just to watch a loss to the Kansas Jayhawks in the home opener. While the ship seems to have been somewhat corrected, something occurred to me on Thursday night that hadn’t before. While things have been less than peachy in Morgantown, the 2022 season was never meant to be a special one.
Why? Well, because this team is young. Very young.
Let’s just take a look at Neal Brown’s best player on offense through the first four games. C.J. Donaldson has quickly shown that he is right at home in big time college football…as a TRUE FRESHMAN. That’s right, he’s brand new to this game, folks. Just imagine, if he is this good early, where will he be in 2023 or even 2024? We could very well potentially have the face of the “New Big 12” in our backfield moving forward – that is if the portal doesn’t come up to bite the Mountaineers (again).
How about WVU’s best defensive play on Thursday night in Blacksburg? Jacolby Spells gave the Mountaineers their first pick-six since the 2020 season. What’s his current class status? A TRUE FRESHMAN. He’s young, came in as a four-star prospect (one of the best in the 2022 class), and he is already making spectacular plays for the Old Gold and Blue. The secondary has had a less than ideal start to the season, but the younger players like Spells, Bin-Wahad, and Mallinger will continue to improve and get the experience needed to compete in the Big 12.
It’s okay to be upset as a fan. Believe me, I know…I get it. We want instant gratification. We want our team to win and win now. I understand that it is year four under Neal Brown, but you have to look at the facts, folks. A lot of Neal’s failures have been outside of his control. From COVID, to the transfer portal, to injuries, to you name it, there has just been a lot of balls that haven’t bounced his way. However, I believe should just a few bounce his way, this thing could get really good, really fast.
There’s a lot of young talent on this team that will grow should they stick around. If I were to compare this team to any during the Dana Holgorsen-era, this is like Neal Brown’s 2017 team. He has a fancy new quarterback who will continue to grow, a lot of offense around him, and a defense that just needs time to improve under Jordan Lesley. If we just hold on as a fanbase, and get through a season that will have its ups and downs, we will reap the benefits of patiently building a program later down the road.
Be patient, Trust the Climb, and hang in there. Mountaineers don’t back down, and neither will this team under Neal Brown.