Thursday, March 23, 2023

West Virginia Lands Another Recruit

Morgantown, West Virginia - The West Virginia Mountaineers have had a huge day today, landing four recruits! Moments ago, three star defensive lineman Corey McIntyre, Jr. chose the Mountaineers over Pitt, Washington State, Indiana, NC State and USF! McIntyre, who is from Port Saint Lucie, Florida, was on campus for an official visit this weekend and fell in love with the program. West Virginia’s 2023 recruiting – currently ranked 15th in the nation overall by 247 Sports and Rivals – features four star wide receiver Rodney Gallagher, as well as three star players Josiah Jackson (cornerback), James Heard (linebacker), Josiah Trotter (linebacker), Jahiem White (running back), Raheim Jeter (quarterback), Cooper Young (offensive lineman), Cameron Jackson (defensive lineman), Eamon Smalls (defensive lineman), Jordan Louie (running back) and today’s commit, Justin Benton (defensive lineman), Jordan Jackson (athlete) and Ben Cutter (inside linebacker), Noah Braham (defensive lineman/tight end) and Tory Johnson, Jr. (wide receiver).  

Kudos To The Fans

Earlier this week, an Iowa State media member said that Milan Puskar Stadium wasn't daunting. Clearly, that didn't age well. The crowd played a huge factor in WVU's hard fought victory. 45,613. That was the attendance at Milan Puskar Stadium yesterday vs Iowa State. Although there were about 15,000 empty seats, it was one of the most fun, engaged, and  loud environments I have ever experienced. West Virginia is known for having one of the most loyal and passionate fanbases and it didn't disappoint yesterday. The best part about it, was when the sound system was muted, and the "LETS GO!" "MOUNTAINEERS!" chant resounded through the stadium for over two minutes. So, to the 45,613 who showed up and stayed, THANK YOU! Next week, 60,000 is expected.

ESPN Gives West Virginia No Chance in the Backyard Brawl Tonight

Morgantown, West Virginia - The West Virginia Mountaineers have been underdogs many times in the past and have oftentimes played their best football when no one else believed in them. Today, the Mountaineers go into Pitt as 7.5 underdogs. In addition, ESPN's Football Power Index, a measure of team strength that is meant to be the best predictor of a team's performance going forward for the rest of the season, gives the Mountaineers almost no chance at all of beating Pitt tonight. ESPN's FPI currently gives West Virginia only a 21.9% chance of winning the game and Pitt a 78.1% chance of winning. Although the FPI has been wrong in the past, it has been remarkably accurate in previous seasons. Last season, it predicted 70.4% of the games correctly and 73.5% right the season before that. Last season, Pitt was 11-3 overall and won the ACC Conference. West Virginia is coming off a 6-7 record, but the Mountaineers hired a new, experienced offensive coordinator and finally added a competent quarterback.

WVU Lost to the Likely Big 12 Champion Yesterday

The Big 12 right now is a mess to say the least. Oklahoma, who has won five-straight Big 12 championships, took one on the chin yesterday in a 38-35 loss to Kansas State. Texas, who many expected to be in the Big 12 championship game with the Sooners, had to take it into overtime to beat Texas Tech, 63-56. From top to bottom, the conference has been total and complete chaos.   Oklahoma State on the other hand has been consistent. Sure, they were only able to beat Tulsa by a score of 16-7, but they field a solid defense, and have an offense that could go off at any point. Really and truly, this team looks like they could be the eventual Big 12 champions in 2020 - and that my friends is why I am not putting too much stock into WVU’s 27-13 loss to the Pokes on Saturday.   The Cowboys’ defense returned 10 of 11 starters in 2020 and it showed. Oklahoma State’s defense was a pure headache for the Mountaineers. Aleve is likely Quarterback Jarret Doege’s best friend today after he took a pounding by their front seven. The Cowboys blitzed and took risks throughout the entirety of the game and won the majority of plays. The talent and experience aspect helped them prevail in this department.   If we were to look at this game on paper, the Cowboys should have honestly blown out West Virginia. Their talent is far superior, and they have one of the best coaching staffs in the nation. The fact that the Mountaineers were able to play them tough, and have it within a touchdown with only minutes to go is promising. Yes, our offense struggled and penalties were a major issue, but the Mountaineers playing the Pokes tough in Stillwater should bode well for the team moving forward.   Losing to one of the best teams in the conference is nothing to be ashamed of and is honestly expected. The Mountaineers are still in the midst of a major rebuild, and improvements are starting to show throughout the board. Despite this loss not always looking great, Neal Brown and company have a lot to build on coming out of this game. Next week presents a grand opportunity against an opponent West Virginia also played tough on the road last season. Baylor was undefeated, and had a depleted Mountaineer team in Waco on Halloween night. West Virginia was able to keep it close, but ultimately lost 17-14. The Bears were also an opponent whose talent was far better than that of West Virginia, and had no business playing such a close game against them. If West Virginia can pull off the victory against Baylor, it will show just how far they have really come. It is difficult to gauge improvements against a team like Oklahoma State. Next Saturday at noon will tell the tale of what Mountaineer Nation can expect from 2020.  

Wouldn’t Blame Garrett Greene if He Decides to Transfer

Morgantown, West Virginia - To be clear, the last thing anyone wants is for Garrett Greene to leave West Virginia University and decide to transfer, but could anyone really blame him if he does? Greene, a redshirt freshman who has played only sparingly behind starter Jarret Doege for two seasons, has not been given a real opportunity to prove himself and he may never get that shot at West Virginia. What's become very evident this season is that Neal Brown doesn't trust Garrett Greene to throw the ball down field.  On Greene's one possession last week against Texas Tech - the one possession that the Mountaineers actually moved the ball in the first half - Brown called a drag route that Greene executed perfectly, hitting his wide receiver for a first down. What we found out today is that Neal Brown didn't actually mean to call that play for Greene.  "We have a play bank for Garrett and one for Doege.  I called one of Doege's plays by accident when Garrett was in the game." Brown has relegated Greene to a one-dimensional player who he simply does not want to throw the ball downfield.  Let's remember that Greene was a former four star Elite 11 quarterback out of high school who is extremely capable of passing the ball downfield with accuracy. The Elite 11 competition is reserved for the very best quarterbacks in the nation and Greene shined at the event.  For Brown to argue that he's not capable of throwing passes downfield better that Jarret Doege is absolutely ludicrous. Garrett Greene is a bright, fiery, competitive young man who wants to compete and wants to compete now, not sit patiently on the sidelines behind someone he knows that he's better than.  With Jarret Doege potentially returning for another season next year and talented true freshman Will "Goose" Crowder eager to play, the quarterback room is already crowded before four star stud Nicco Marchiol even steps foot on campus. When student athletes are involved, it's important to consider what's best for the young men.  Obviously Neal Brown and Mountaineer fans would like for Garrett Greene to remain with the team for the next four years, but can anyone honestly say that this is what is best for this young man's future?  While the success of the football program is paramount, would anyone really blame Greene for doing what's best for himself?

WVU Football is Right On Track

(Photo Courtesy of Contrary to popular belief, the West Virginia Mountaineers are exactly where they should be.  Does anyone want to be 4-3? No.  I understand the goal is to win.  However, just because these kids put on the Old Gold and Blue, doesn't mean they are magically a top talent. 2019 was no doubt a start of a complete rebuild.  I'm not sure if people were blind to it or not, but there wasn't much left to work with.  WVU squeaked out everything they could in the 8 years with Dana Holgorsen at the helm.  Is Dana Holgorsen better suited as an offensive coordinator? Probably.  What Holgorsen did best was get the most out of his offense, no matter who was available.  He won some games WVU wasn't supposed to win.  He also lost games they had no business losing. Neal Brown only has one loss in which his team was favored. What was the most frustrating part of Holgorsen's tenure?  Clock management and field position.  Time and time again, Holgorsen mismanaged clock that either didn't save the Mountaineers time, or gave the opponent too much time knowing very well the suspect defense he had behind him.  He used his offense to try and mask the defense.  Love the gamble, but sometimes complimentary management decisions would have been the smarter move.  Head coaches are paid for their game management.  Holgorsen wasn't ready for ALL of that responsibility. New coach Neal Brown brings a completely different set of skills to Morgantown and it's time to appreciate and understand that.  Week after week I see complaints of Brown's play calling, his decision making, his non aggression.  News flash, Will Grier isn't the quarterback.  David Sills, Kevin White, Stedman Bailey, nor Tavon Austin are lined up wide.  There are ZERO mismatches to take advantage of offensively. Coaches call every play to score a touchdown.  Properly executed, each play in theory should score.  The only way play calling should be criticized is when the same negative result is clear; over and over and over.  I have yet to see Neal Brown stick with something that clearly isn't working (I know you all will say running the ball on third down).  Brown is showing just how a head coach should operate with inferior talent.  Coaching to their strengths and putting the team in the best position to win. Some of you are now yelling "stop running on third down", so let's take a look at some statistics that might show what I mean.  Outside of WVU, all other schools have had 171 third down PASS plays of 10 or more yards.  30 of these have been converted.  That's a tick over 17%.  West Virginia has thrown on 20 of 31 third downs of more than 10 yards.  They've converted 6 of these (30%), tops in the Big 12.  The league average of pass plays on these downs is 66%.  West Virginia throws on 65% of these downs.  Now the next obvious argument is what? Throw the ball more right? Wrong. If you've ever listened to a Neal Brown answer about a game situation you'll hear a word continually pop up, data.  Brown is HUGE into the analytics department of decision making.  Right or wrong, this is the methodology he takes for a majority of his big decisions.  So you may be thinking "WVU hits at 30% throwing the ball on these plays, why not throw it another 10% of the time and convert more?" Answer: Law of Statistics.  I may have just made that term up but it's statistically true.  All stats will filter to their true mean (average) at some point.  Therefore it is reasonable to assume the 30% success rate throwing the ball on these downs will eventually trickle towards 17%.  Don't forget, WVU's last 5 opponents have the bottom 5 defenses in the Big 12; the next 3 are ranked 3rd-5th.  Continuing to force throws on 3rd and very long will result in opponents gaining favorable field position along with more possessions to do more damage. Aside from the statistics of these downs, let's remember this team has no go to player to get tough yards.  Jarret Doege is an experienced, serviceable quarterback that makes quick and often correct decisions.  The drawback is the inaccuracy.  With a defense as good as the one the Mountaineers have and an offense without an explosive threat, why chance a turnover on a throwaway down that puts the TEAM behind early?  While I believe the odds are slim with Doege at quarterback, probably less than 7%, there's just no need to take the chance. Take your points, flip the field when necessary in the first half.  If you're trailing/close, keep the game as close to a one possession game for as long as possible.  This is precisely why Neal Brown dominates the field position factor, and plays perfect complimentary football that puts his TEAM in the best position to win.  You may notice I continue to put TEAM in all caps.  The key difference in the upgrade of coaching from Dana Holgorsen to Neal Brown is the TEAM factor.  Brown uses his offense and defense in a tandem to play the game.  Holgorsen used his offense to outscore the opponent. Finally, to wrap this entire rant together, let's dive into what a true, on track rebuild looks like in 4 years.  The first year of a rebuild is expected to be miserable.  Somewhere within this year you build your foundation.  The second year of a rebuild should show improvement, competitive within the conference.  Somewhere around a .500 record in conference play.  The third year should show growth, maturity.  Winning close games and winning on the road, defending home, and getting the statement win.  The final year of the rebuild is maximizing the realistic potential.  If this is a 10 win, New Year's Six team, go get it.  If it's one that can get to the CFP, go get that. I'd like to use Iowa State as an example.  Fresh off three straight years of 9...

Holgorsen and Brown: On The Same Sinking Ship

  Morgantown, West Virginia - The Houston Cougars had aspirations of being the second Group of 5 team to make it to the College Football Playoffs, and the West Virginia Mountaineers had high aspirations themselves with incoming Quarterback JT Daniels of being a darkhorse in the Big 12 this year. Going into week 6, those hopes are dead as a doornail. Both teams sit at 2-3 on the season, and both look mediocre at best. In Houston's case, they have losses against Texas Tech, Kansas, and Tulane. As for West Virginia, they have losses against rival Pittsburgh, Kansas, and Texas. NOT great for EITHER school, which both have high aspirations year in and year out. Houston fired Major Applewhite after an 8-4 season in 2018, and West Virginia essentially booted Bill Steward for similar results in his tenure as head coach. What this means is that both schools expect seasons above 7-5 every year, and with the way Holgorson and Brown have been coaching, their firing seems imminent. Houston will likely fire Holgorson at the end of the season, due to the fact that they have a strong booster program that was willing to pay him more than what he got here at West Virginia. If a Group of Five program can fire their head coach, then we certainly can! Why does this matter? It matters BECAUSE both programs are in an eerily similar situation. Both schools can part with their coaches and get someone in there to fix them up, or else they will be stuck in mediocracy or worse in the years to come. SERIOUS improvements must be made immediately.  These were both strong and proud programs that have been in the national spotlight numerous times. If they want to be there again, I believe there should be serious changes to each program.

Pittsburgh’s Starting Quarterback Posted Priceless Tweet in 2014

Morgantown, West Virginia - The West Virginia Mountaineers will meet the Pitt Panthers in two days, Thursday, September 1st in the Backyard Brawl. Pitt will be led by redshirt senior transfer quarterback Kedon Slovis, who was the starter for USC last season. Internet sleuths have uncovered and leaked a tweet that Slovis sent out back in 2014. Slovis simply posted three very important words to Mountaineer Nation: "Eat Shit Pitt." It's unclear why Slovis posted the message or what led to it, but it's certainly an interesting omen for his future with the Panthers!

West Virginia Needs a REAL Offensive Coordinator

Morgantown, West Virginia - The West Virginia football program has all of the pieces in place to be incredibly successful for many, many years ahead – an outstanding, young head coach, fantastic assistants, as well as improved facilities and recruiting. However, one piece that is glaringly obvious is the lack of a real offensive coordinator with actual experience at the position.  Although co-offensive coordinators Chad Scott and Gerard Parker are excellent parts of the team, they are not experienced play-callers.  And while Head Coach Neal Brown has plenty of experience as an offensive coordinator, his duties as the leader of the program are far-reaching, and he should not have to focus his energy and time on calling offensive plays. While the Mountaineers’ offense is certainly improved from last year, averaging 460.8 yards per game this season (25th out of 101 eligible teams), the offense is too often stagnant and lacks identity. Who are the Mountaineers on offense?  Are they a run team, or a passing team, or both?  How exactly would you describe West Virginia’s offense under Neal Brown?  During his time as the Offensive Coordinator at Texas Tech and Kentucky, Brown ran what he termed the “NASCAR SPREAD”, which focused on high octane production and speed.  Since arriving in Morgantown, Brown has been very, very conservative offensively, particularly on key third down plays.  His questionable run calls on third and long have become his signature play call and has led to many missed opportunities. With that said, West Virginia needs an identity.  I understand West Virginians’ reservations with ever allowing Rich Rodriguez to come back home to Morgantown, but imagine Rich Rod's spread offense with Garrett Greene and Leddie Brown/Alec Sinkfield.  This is all unlikely, of course, but just imagine it.   Rich Rodriguez is a dream and won’t happen, but there are plenty of talented, experienced offensive coordinators out there that could focus on calling plays and bring a real identity to the Mountaineers.  Virtually every football program in the country has an offensive coordinator that calls plays and does not rely on its head coach for a reason…it’s what works best!   The West Virginia football program is very close but lacks a few pieces towards long-term success, and the first piece that needs filled is a real offensive coordinator to lead the Mountaineers’ offense.  The Head Coach has so many other responsibilities to handle and calling plays should not be one of them. It's time for Neal Brown to say good bye to his duties of calling offensive plays.

Marshall Starting Quarterback OFFICIALLY Transfers

It was announced yesterday that Isaiah Green, Marshall's starting quarterback for the past two seasons, was transferring from the program.  Following the announcement, several Marshall players denied the rumors, saying that it was "false news."  Moments ago, Isaiah Green himself made it official: "To Herd Nation, I would like to start off by saying I would've loved nothing more than to stay here and ball out with my brothers and continue trying to bring a championship back to Huntington and I know my brothers would've loved the same thing.  Football has molded me but I will not let it take away from my character.  I will rise about the minor conflicts to see the bigger picture, and above all else God will remain in control. As my time comes to an end here at Marshall University, I would like to thank my fans for being so supportive, and showing an abundance of love and acceptance.  Through all the dark valleys this has been a nice shed of light, and I'm excited to see where this journey takes me. To my teammates - this seems surreal.  I know it all happened so fast but I love you like brothers, and am so proud of the work you put in every day.  I won't forget the conversations, and many hours of work we put in together.  I look forward to the success that you will have as individuals, don't lose yourself in this program.  Always remember there are people who will do right by you, respect you as men, and care about what you go through outside of football.  Find your passions, and give it your all.  I ask for prayers, love, and privacy at this time.  To all of you that have shown me love, it will never be forgotten.  Thank you for the imprint you have left in my heart.  May God bless you all.  All my love, Isaiah Green." There is lots to digest here, but a few things really stand out.  First of all, he didn't thank the coaches or Marshall.  He thanked his teammates and the fans, and that is all.  Secondly, he seemed to hint at issues within the program.  The phrase "don't lose yourself in the program" really stood out.  In addition, it appears that he didn't feel respected off the field or as a man, and that is ultimately what led to his departure.

Shane Lyons Issues a Statement on WVU Football

Morgantown, West Virginia - After an 0-2 record to start the season, there are many questions surrounding the West Virginia football program. Moments ago, West Virginia’s director of athletics, Shane Lyons, released a statement about the team: “I know our fans are frustrated with the start of the football season, but so are our coaches and student-athletes, who have busted their tails getting ready for the year. As athletics director, I am as disappointed as the fans, but I see how much our coaches and players care and want to win and make our fans proud. Everyone involved knows that the on-field results have not met expectations and absolutely no one is satisfied. There are 10 games left in the season and the focus is still on getting the results that we all expect.” It sounds like Lyons will stick with Neal Brown for the remainder of the season and re-evaluate after the season is over. Stay tuned!      

Does Dana Holgorsen Have COVID-19?

The symptoms of COVID-19 (the Coronavirus) are fever, cough, shortness of breath, confusion or inability to arouse, and bluish lips or face. Have you seen Dana Holgorsen at the microphone during press conferences?  I'm not saying that he's Patient Zero for the virus, but this man has been coughing into microphones and confused for years.   Perhaps it's the years of late-night benders and alcohol abuse, but Dana Holgorsen has the look of a very, very sick man.  THEN THIS: Holgorsen was scheduled to hold a luncheon in conjunction with the University of Houston Alumni Association, but it was cancelled abruptly "in the interest of public health." Although there are no other signs that Holgorsen could have contracted the disease, but it was reported that there are 23 cases in the Houston-area two days ago.

WVU Offers 3-Star 2022 Prospect

Albert Redd, a three-star outside linebacker prospect in the 2022 class, announced today via Twitter that he has received an offer from Neal Brown and the Mountaineers. Redd hails from Kernersville, North Carolina. Standing at 6’3” and weighing 210 pounds, he has garnered attention from multiple FBS programs. He currently holds offers from North Carolina, Louisville, Liberty, Old Dominion, and Akron, according to 247Sports.

West Virginia Recruit Says He’s “110% Committed to the Mountaineers”

Morgantown, West Virginia - 2022 West Virginia Mountaineers commit Sullivan "Sully" Weidman reaffirmed his commitment to the university moments ago on social media. Weidman, a 6'6 300 offensive lineman, is a three star recruit and chose West Virginia over offers from Arizona State, Boston College, Louisville, Georgia Tech, Michigan State, Michigan, Nebraska, among others. Weidman said the following on his personal social media account:  "I am 110% locked in!  I am a full believer in Coach Brown, Coach Moore (offensive line coach) and the rest of the WVU football staff!  Stop asking me if I am going to decommit!" West Virginia's 2022 class is perhaps the best ever in school history and is currently ranked as the 24th best in the nation.  With West Virginia's disappointing season, many fans have wondered if some of these talented recruits would consider de-committing from the team. Weidman, however, appears locked in and still excited to be a Mountaineer!

Today Changed Nothing for Neal Brown and West Virginia

Morgantown, West Virginia - West Virginia won perhaps its only game this season, beating a severely over-matched Towson team. Despite its lop-sided score, it changed absolutely nothing for Neal Brown and the West Virginia Mountaineers. It didn't get rid of the poor taste of losing to Pitt and it certainly didn't make anyone forget about the Kansas humiliation. If today did anything, it reminded us just how much talent is being wasted right now. West Virginia's roster is loaded with talent, but they are very clearly not well-coached, and if something doesn't change soon, Neal Brown will be out of job. In fact, next week's game at Virginia Tech will decide the future of Neal Brown in Morgantown. If the Mountaineers lose to the Hokies Thursday night, they would move to 1-3 on the season with games at Texas, at home against Baylor and on the road at Texas Tech looming. At 1-6, changes would almost certainly have to be made at that point, if not sooner. The heat from donors and fans on Shane Lyons to make a move would become too great and with his job potentially on the line as well, he will be forced to take action. Remember, Lyons peculiarly gave Brown a contact extension and raise after he was 11-11 in two seasons with the Mountaineers. This extension put West Virginia in terrible shape with a massive buyout in place if he is fired before his contract is up in 2026. This, of course, does not please West Virginia's major donors and they have already expressed this anger and disappointment in Lyons' decision. If things get much worse - losing at Virginia Tech, then against Texas and Baylor - donors will assuredly come up with the money for Brown's buyout and hold Lyons accountable for putting the university in this situation. Lyons will have to walk a fine line between his loyalty to Brown and keeping donors and fans happy. Lyons statement following West Virginia's loss against Kansas was certainly not a vote of confidence, and if the Mountaineers fall at Virginia Tech, Neal Brown's seat will only get warmer.