The 2023 season could be more fun for Mountaineer Football than once believed.
Morgantown, WV – For the first time since 2011, the West Virginia Mountaineers took down the Pitt Panthers on Saturday night by a final score of 17-6. It was sloppy, it was ugly, but ultimately, it was the Mountaineers who showed the most passion in front of a sold out Milan Puskar Stadium.
While this will be one that fans will brag about for the next twelve months, there is still a lot of football left. West Virginia opens conference play with a tangle against Texas Tech in Morgantown on Saturday, and will finally be looking to get the Red Raiders monkey off of their back for the first time since 2018.
Before that, today, we are going to discuss FIVE THOUGHTS to take away from WVU’s nasty victory over Pitt on Saturday night – and how they could impact the team moving forward.
- This is what I was afraid of with Greene – I am a huge Garrett Greene fan. He’s tough, gritty, and a damn good teammate. However, his health was a major concern for him going into the season. With his style of play, he would have to be extremely lucky to get through the 2023 season without an injury.
Well, that luck ran out last night. In only the second drive of the game, Greene injured his leg and missed the remainder of the game. Despite reports indicating there was no damage to his leg, this could be a common theme moving forward – especially if the injury is nagging enough to affect him the rest of the season.
- CJ Donaldson’s health is critical to the team moving forward – Mountaineer Nation collectively held their breath as Running Back C.J. Donaldson went down holding his leg during the fourth quarter. That air was released once he walked off the field on his own power, but it was still very concerning in the moment.
Donaldson is without a doubt the most valuable player on the team. The Mountaineers will go as far as he takes them. If he goes down this season as he did in 2022, West Virginia will be in trouble. As much as nobody wants to, you have to wonder if he could benefit from slightly reducing his touches per game…for health’s sake.
- Oliver Straw continues to impress – Punter Oliver Straw’s numbers were affected by a blocked punt, but the Australia native continued to impress last night. Two of his kicks were downed inside the opposing 20, bringing his total to 5 in 8 total punt attempts. It should not be an outrageous take to consider him a serious Ray Guy Award contender.
- This was the defense we expected under Neal Brown – After receiving so much criticism, the WVU defense showed up in a big way on Saturday night. Jordan Lesley’s unit only allowed 211 total yards, 12 first downs, and forced 3 turnovers. They completely smothered Pitt’s offense en route to their best performance in two years. This was the defense we expected under Neal Brown, and it should be the norm moving forward.
- Will a WR1 please stand up? – Yes, I know WVU only threw the ball 11 times last night. However, when they did, the receivers were still struggling to make catches. Outside of nice grabs by Devon Carter and Hudson Clement, that unit was for the most part stagnant. If they hope to win games in the Big 12, the receivers have to begin making plays. Also, someone HAS to establish themselves as the number one guy. I believe it will happen in time, but it needs to occur sooner than later.
WVU and Texas Tech kickoff on Saturday at 3:30. The game is set to broadcast on ESPN+.
(Photo by WVU Athletics)