WVU got back on track with a 41-28 win over UCF on Saturday.
Morgantown, WV – After dropping their previous two games, the West Virginia Mountaineers got back on track with a 41-28 victory over UCF on Saturday. It wasn’t pretty, and it certainly wasn’t perfect, but it was a win, nonetheless.
With the Mountaineers now sitting at 5-3 overall and 3-2 in Big 12 play, Neal Brown has a chance to return his team to the postseason after being ineligible in 2022.
Despite UCF being arguably one of the worst teams in the Big 12 at the moment, the win yesterday was huge in a lot of ways. Today, I am going to discuss just how big the victory was in my weekly five thoughts.
- Garrett Greene is the man in Morgantown – Greene had arguably his best game in the Gold & Blue yesterday. After becoming the first quarterback since Pat White to rush for three touchdowns in a game for WVU, there is no question that he is becoming a star for the Mountaineers. There will be a small portion of fans that disagree with this take, but they simply don’t understand football. As long as #6 is in the game for WVU, they have a chance to win. If he can stay healthy, he could be in for a monstrous end to 2023.
- Welcome back, C.J. – For whatever reason, C.J. Donaldson hadn’t put forth his best effort in 2023. Whether that was because of his injury last year or just a sophomore slump, we will never know. That changed yesterday, however, as Donaldson put together his best game of the season. After tallying 121 yards on 17 carries with a touchdown, he may have just gained the confidence he needed to close the year out strong.
- Michael Hayes and Oliver Straw are special – Minus giving up a kickoff return at Houston, WVU’s special teams have been just that in 2023 – special. Georgia State transfer Michael Hayes has filled the shoes of Casey Legg with ease, connecting on 9 of his 10 field goal attempts of the season. His only miss came on a 58-yard attempt to close the first half at TCU. Oliver Straw has followed suit in putting together one of the best performances for a punter at the national level. On 28 punts, Straw has pinned 14 inside the 20, and is averaging 43.2 yards per boot. While WVU may still have their flaws, kicking isn’t one of them.
- This defense is still a problem – Although the Mountaineers came up with four takeaways yesterday, UCF’s John Rhys-Plumlee picked apart the secondary with relative ease. It took until the fourth quarter for him to throw his first true incomplete pass against WVU (his first three were interceptions). West Virginia may not have an intimidating offense on their remaining schedule, but if they can’t defend the pass, this will become a problem. While I think Neal Brown is safe, I believe we are past time to begin looking at replacements for some coaches on the defensive staff.
- Neal Brown has secured another season at the helm – Barring a complete meltdown in the last four games, I think it is safe to say that Neal Brown is safe for another year in Morgantown. He has his team playing well, and a bulk of the team will return in 2024. Firing him at this point would simply be irresponsible by the athletic program.
(Photo by WVU Athletics)