(Photo from WV Metro News) Next weekend's game against the Texas Longhorns 2-2 (0-1) will really show what conference play has in store for the Mountaineers this season. Texas's starting QB Quinn Ewers was injured in their game against then top-ranked Alabama in the first quarter. Since then he has been out with a shoulder injury but might make it back to the starting lineup against the Mountaineers this coming Saturday Before last night's game against Texas Tech, Ewers was named the "co-starter". This essentially meant that he had a chance at playing, but was not guaranteed. He ended up not playing against the Red Raiders, but this brings up an important question. Will Quinn Ewers be the starting QB against West Virginia? I would say maybe. Ewers was first predicted to be out for four to six weeks, but it seems like he is recovering faster than experts originally anticipated. He was co-starter this weekend, and with poor QB playing from backup Hudson Card, I would not be at all surprised to see Ewers make the start, despite the risk of injury. Texas needs this victory just as bad or more than West Virginia does. How does this affect West Virginia? This could really be the deciding factor on who wins or loses this weekend. Ewers is a legit QB who proved himself in the first quarter against Alabama, and despite Card's efforts, they were not able to get it done and took a 20-19 loss at home. Texas's offense this season depends on good QB play, and without a true starter, they have struggled. If Ewers makes the start, I think that West Virginia's defense will struggle a good bit and it will come down to key offensive possessions by JT Daniels and the rest of the Mountaineer offense. If Ewers doesn't make the start, I have a feeling that WVU's defense will be able to come up big time, giving our offense the chance to slow it down and run out the clock. Predictions? With Ewers starting, I would say 35-32 Texas in a nail-biter that comes down to mistakes on the defensive side of the ball. If Card is the starter, I expect a lower-scoring game with the Mountaineers taking the victory in Austin 28-24.
(Photo by WVU Athletics) The West Virginia Mountaineers have started the season out 2-2 (0-1) with wins against FCS opponent Towson and rival Virginia Tech (VPI to many). They also have losses to at the time #17th ranked Pitt and conference foe Kansas in overtime. I personally believe that when we lost to Kansas, this season really was over, but now, I think that West Virginia is finally starting to prove itself. The Mountaineers had a dominant win against Towson at home, and yes, before anyone tells me that it is Towson, it is still very impressive to not give up any points on defense. After that, they defeated Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. That win could potentially be the turning point of the season as WVU blew out the Hokies by the largest margin of victory at Lane Stadium in Blackdiamond history. If the Mountaineers really want to turn this season around, they have to defeat Texas in Austin and then a potentially Top 15-ranked Baylor Bears team in Morgantown. Texas lost tonight to Texas Tech in Lubbock in OT and I believe that WVU with momentum coming out of the rivalry game against Virginia Tech, has a real chance to pull the upset in Austin. They then come home to play Baylor. The thing about Baylor is that they have NEVER defeated the Mountaineers in Morgantown since WVU joined the Big 12. If they defeat Texas, then I think that WVU has a real chance to pull the upset on a Thursday night in October. If they lose to Texas, WVU still has a chance to win (especially since it is a night game on Thursday and crazy stuff ALWAYS happens on Thursday nights in Motown.) All in all, this schedule is super difficult for the rest of the season: Saturday, Oct. 1 at #22 Texas Longhorns, Time TBA ET Saturday, Oct. 8 Oct. 13, #17 Baylor Bears, 7:30 ET Saturday, Oct. 22 at Texas Tech Red Raiders, Time TBA ET Saturday, Oct. 29 TCU Horned Frogs, Time TBA ET Saturday, Nov. 5 at Iowa State Cyclones, Time TBA ET Saturday, Nov. 12 #6 Oklahoma Sooners, Time TBA ET Saturday, Nov. 19 Kansas State Wildcats, Time TBA ET Saturday, Nov. 26 at #9 Oklahoma State Cowboys If West Virginia wins their next two, the schedule thins out quite a bit and they have some real chances to FINALLY put themselves on the map with Coach Neal Brown. If they split the next two or lose both, then I am not sure how this season will unfold and will potentially be the end of his career. A winning season is still VERY possible, and if they play like they did against VT and tweak that offense, even more, the sky is the limit for this team.
It feels great to be bowl eligible. However, the time between the last regular season game and the bowl games is stress-inducing. It has become a trend over the past couple years for players to either transfer or declare for the draft in this period, and the Mountaineers have already had 4 players announce their intent to transfer since the Kansas game. None of these players were outright starters, but Banks and Esdale played valuable roles on the offense and will be missed. We still have a bunch of noteworthy athletes at WVU, and now is a good time to highlight those Mountaineers who are still competing for WVU. This is the list of Magnificent Mountaineers for the week ending December 5th. Zach Frazier, Sophomore Center (Football) – I know WVU didn’t have a football game last week, but Zach Frazier had a good week, being named to the All-Big 12 2nd Team All-Conference team as a true Sophomore. Frazier is the best offensive lineman on the team, and over the past two games, he was a huge reason why the running game had so much success. He is a road grader as a run blocker, creating huge lanes to run regularly. It makes it even more rewarding that he is a local product from Fairmont, WV. The center is arguably the most important part of a good offensive line. They are responsible for identifying defenses, calling protections, and calling audibles for other lineman based on the look the defense shows. Having such an elite center already on our team for at least another year is huge, and as long as Frazier is snapping the ball, WVU should have success running the football. Ceili McCabe, Junior (Cross Country) – I don’t like re-using people on this list, but it’s hard to pass up an athlete that wins Women’s National Athlete of the Week by the US Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association. And her performance on December 4th was well deserving. McCabe set a WVU record of 8:52.52 in the 3,000 meter run, which she finished first in. Not only was her time a WVU record, but her time also puts her as the 8th fastest runner in collegiate history. WVU has a very impressive, world-class athlete in McCabe, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see her enshrined in the WVU Sports Hall of Fame one day. The Men’s Soccer team – The Men’s Soccer Team did something no other team has done in the past 40 years: make it to the NCAA Quarterfinals. While they ended up losing to the number 3 seeded Georgetown, they took it down to the wire, losing 4-1 on penalties after 2 scoreless overtime periods. It was an impressive year for the team, finishing 12-4-5 and taking a team that has only lost twice on the season to the brink. The Men’s and Women’s Soccer teams have both been trending upwards the past couple years, and it’s great to see sports other than the big two (football and basketball) build formidable programs. Make sure to check out Brandon on The Voice of Motown Podcast. Subscribe and listen below: https://open.spotify.com/show/57Dfw10urlEo8GBstpKrYy?si=99bca278aece47eb
This weekly thread is therapy. Focusing on only the positives gives a calming feeling and helps me look at the bright side of things. And that is important nowadays. The evolution of the coaching carousel should make everyone pause and shudder. Historic and wealthy programs have shown their limits – there are none, and that scares me. It scares me, because it shows how much money has power in today’s version of college football: NIL, conference realignment, and now coaching hires. The NCAA has always been influenced by money, but there were certain checks and balances that organically fell into place. Top coaches would build a program and stay there; they knew things weren’t a given, and other programs couldn’t or wouldn’t pony up the cash to buy them out of their comfort zones. Unfortunately now, there will never again be a Paterno, Bowden, Saban, Switzer, or Bryant. Coaches are mercenaries now. However, they can’t take away Mountaineer culture and pride. Our fan base rallies around our teams and players. The Mountaineers ARE the "professional" sports teams in West Virginia. The players who pass through will always be the driving force behind our fans energy, whether positive or negative. Many will leave as superstars, always to be remembered and recognized any time they step foot on campus. There aren't many other universities out there that can say that. And with that, I give you this week’s Magnificent Mountaineers for the week ending November 28th: Daryl Porter Jr., RS Freshman Cornerback (Football) – I gave the seniors this spot last week, so I felt I had to go somewhere else. Of course, it’s hard to overlook Leddie Brown (19 for 156 and a TD) and Josh Chandler-Semedo (8 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 hurry, and 2 interceptions) here, but I want to focus on the future for a little bit. I could also put Tony Mathis Jr. here as well, but as an offensive player, it’s easy to see how good he was on Sunday. And I feel like we don’t talk about Daryl Porter Jr. enough. Porter didn’t play much last year during the COVID shortened season, seeing action in only 6 games. However, with the departures of Dreshun Miller and Tykee Smith, Porter had an opportunity to greatly increase his playing time. He earned a starting spot coming into the season, and he has impressed all season long. In coverage, he has developed into an almost shutdown corner; he’s always in the right spots and has shown the ability to put himself in the right place to break up passes and make things hard for the receiver. He has also been solid as a run defender, especially for someone his size (5’10” 185 pounds). He was rock-steady again against the Jayhawks, notching 5 tackles and 2 pass deflections. Additionally, Porter seemed to always be the defensive back around the ball when a ball hit the dirt, further showing how difficult he makes lives for receivers. After Miller and Smith left, I wondered how long it would be before we brought in another corner that is capable of shadowing the opposition's best target, but with Porter, I’m confident we have that guy on the roster right now. Taz Sherman, Super Senior Guard (Basketball) – I try to avoid putting in the top players in these summaries as I think it is good to show off some names we don’t talk about often. However, Taz Sherman almost singlehandedly helped WVU win a close game against the Eastern Kentucky Colonels on November 26th. WVU trailed for most of the game, struggling to keep up with the Colonels hot hand from 3-point land, but Taz was the answer. He put up a career high 28 points on 53% shooting to go with 4 rebounds, 3 assists and a steal, including 17 of WVUs 42 points in the 2nd half. I think Taz Sherman has the best offensive game WVU has seen in a while; he’s crafty, creative, and knows how to get to his spots. Performances like this are likely to be the new norm for Sherman going forward. The WVU Women’s Volleyball team – Stealing a trend from last week, I’m going to include a whole group here. This recognition less because of an individual performance, and more due to a cumulative performance that is changing the long-term outlook of Women's Volleyball program. The Women’s Volleyball team had a special year this year, starting off 10-0 before ending the season with a 19-9 record, good enough for 3rd in the Big 12. This got them a berth to the NCAA Tournament as an at-large bid, which is the first time in WVU history that the team has made the Tournament. The Mountaineers are led by a trio of seniors: Briana Lynch, Adrian Ell, and Lacey Zerwas. Each of these young women were also named to the Big 12 All-Conference team, with Lynch and Ell making First Team and Zerwas making Second Team. The Mountaineers will face Illinois in the first round of the Tournament on December 3rd with their eyes on a deep tournament run. Make sure to check out Brandon on The Voice of Motown Podcast. Subscribe and listen below: https://open.spotify.com/show/57Dfw10urlEo8GBstpKrYy?si=10da2ea44d4a42ac
Magnificent Mountaineers What a great week for the Magnificent Mountaineers from last week. It was hard not to re-use some of these athletes for this week’s article. Kaden Prather built off his solid showing against Kansas State with 4 catches and 48 yards against the Longhorns. This included a 23-yard grab on the opening play of the game and another 19 yard catch in the 2nd quarter on a 2nd and 11 that put WVU inside Texas’s 10 yard line. Malik Curry had down games against Elon and Marquette, going a combined 4 for 14 and 13 points with no assists and 5 turnovers. However, he returned to form against Clemson by scoring 9 points on 4 of 7 shooting to go along with 2 steals. Curry seems to be a great spark plug scorer off the bench for WVU, and his ability to finish in traffic continues to impress me. Despite the two down games, I’m still incredibly bullish on Curry moving forward. Finally, Ceili McCabe continued setting records for WVU’s cross-country team. McCabe finished 3rd overall at the NCAA Cross Country Championships, which is the highest finish for a WVU cross country athlete in school history. WVU cross-country coach, Sean Cleary called McCabe’s performance “one of the all-time greatest moments in WVU sports history”. I’m excited to see how Ceili can build off this incredible year in her Senior year. Without further ado, here is my list, in no particular order, of the top Mountaineers for the week ending November 21st. The Seniors (Football) – I know, I know. This isn’t an individual, but the Mountaineers group of senior had a great performance collectively against the Longhorns, and it wouldn’t be fair to single out just one. Here are the few that stuck out the most to me. Leddie Brown capped of his final game at Milan Pushkar Stadium with 33 carries for a whopping 158 yards and a touchdown. Leddie was the engine that powered the offense, and has been for almost two years now. He will be a tough man to replace. Josh Chandler-Semedo was all over the field on Saturday, finishing with 12 tackles, 0.5 sacks and 0.5 tackles for a loss. He has now played in 40 games for the old gold and blue, amassing a total of 243 tackles, with a Big 12 leading 96 tackles just this year. Dante Stills continued to live in the opposing teams’ backfield adding another 2 QB hurries and 1.5 tackles for a loss. Like Chandler-Semedo, Stills has played in more than 40 games as a Mountaineer. The West Virginia-native now has 42 tackles for a loss and 19 sacks in his career. Sean Mahone made arguably the biggest play on Saturday. Late in the 4th quarter on 4th and 8 from WVU’s 30 yard-line, Mahone picked off a Casey Thompson pass to effectively end any hope Texas had of tying the game. Mahone also finished the game with 6 tackles and one pass deflection. Gabe Osabuohien, Senior (Basketball) – WVU plays its best with Gabe on the floor. This is evidenced by performance of the team in the Clemson game compared to Marquette. Against Marquette, Osabuohien only played 17 minutes, dealing with foul trouble much of the night. Without Gabe on the floor, the Mountaineers defense looked lost and unorganized. However, against Clemson, Gabe was able to play 5 more minutes, and he was an important piece of WVUs comeback victory. He grabbed 7 rebounds and a steal on top of dishing out a team high 4 assists. As the season goes on, Gabe will need to be on the floor to help bring stability to a questionable WVU defense and bring the hustle and havoc that is characteristic of great Mountaineer basketball teams. Esmery Martinez, Junior (Basketball) – The WVU Women’s basketball season kicked off last week, and Esmery was front and center for the team’s 3 wins. She contributed nearly 15 points, 9 rebounds and 3 assists per game on a ridiculous 68% from the field. She looks to continue building off a great sophomore season in which she averaged a double-double and was selected to First Team All-Big 12.
We dominated the game and lost. Same exact thing we did under Holgorsen year after year and game after game. Our players would out-play and out-hustle the other team, yet undisciplined penalties, a lack of fundamentals and questionable play calling and clock management would cause us to lose. The game Saturday against the Pokes resulted in the same exact script. Before I go any further, let me establish that I supported going after Coach Neal Brown before his name was even mentioned for the job, and I do still support him and haven’t given up on him. But he hasn’t yet shown me anything to back up a reason for believing in him. Last year was a complete joke. We blew four games, FOUR, in the 4th quarter. Blowing games in the 4th quarter is a result of play calling and clock management. We were either ahead, tied or within one score going into the 4th against Iowa State, Texas, Baylor and Oklahoma State. We could have gone 9-3 and should have at the VERY worst gone 6-6 and to a Bowl. On top of blowing four games late and giving WVU our first losing season in six years and only the second in seventeen years, ol’ Coach refused to bench a QB that was obviously not good enough to start in a Power 5 conference. Kendall just doesn’t/didn’t have the arm strength to make the necessary throws. People that do not know football saw our rushing stats last year and think that our Offensive Line was terrible, but that just isn’t the case. We couldn’t run the ball because no defense was afraid of our QB throwing the ball and therefore loaded the box. Kendall just couldn’t throw the ball downfield. Throw after throw looked like a wounded duck that hung in the air all day. He finished with 12 TDs and 10 INTs, that is absolutely horrid at any level but especially college where the year before – WIll Grier threw 37 TDs to 8 INTs. I understood starting Kendall out of the gate, he was highly rated from the time he was graduating high school through the time Lincoln Riley said that the QB battle between he and Kyler Murray was neck and neck. But after a handful of games it was obvious that he just didn’t have the arm for Power 5. Yet Coach refused to bench him and not even give a CHANCE to ANYONE and especially not Holgorsen recruit Trey Lowe that was supposed to be our future and could’ve been our Starter for the next four years as a Redshirt Freshman. No offensive line can run block when eight or nine defenders are in the box. And as far as pass blocking, we were very good. We gave up less than 2 sacks in half of all our games and our Left Tackle (Colton McKivitz) got drafted in the 5th round. If you’re wondering why I’m rehashing a lot of last year – I'm pointing out that this past Saturday was déjà vu. We absolutely dominated the Pokes and STILL got beat by 2 touchdowns. We had double digit penalties and multiple fumbles (one for a scoop and score reminiscent of 2018 against the Sooners). At one point we had nearly double the yards but were still down 17-0. Which brings us to the muffed FG that continues the mediocre Special Teams from the Holgorsen era. I picked us going 6-4 before the season started, hoping that Brown’s game management had improved over year 1 to the point that we would win a few of those games that come down to the wire in the 4th Quarter. Unfortunately, if what happened against Oklahoma State continues throughout the season, it will be another below .500 year when we should be a bowl team. I gave Coach Brown a pass last year, he had a new team, new program and new Conference, so I said, “fine, yes we had the talent to go 9-3 but I’ll give him a pass in the first year while figuring out what he has and what to do with it.” But he doesn’t get a pass this year. No one expects(ed) him to go 9-1, I don’t even care if we went 2-8 (because the only games that should be a given are Eastern KY and Kansas. You won’t hear it from the “academic Gods of the Big 10” but The Big 12 is the toughest Conference from top to bottom, the only bad team is KU) as long as we left everything on the field and it wasn’t more of the Head Coach blowing the games like it’s been for the past 8 years. Mountaineer fans deserve better than having that sick feeling of being the better team yet still losing that we've had for large portions of our history and especially since 2012. I still believe in Coach Neal Brown but he needs to right the ship starting this week against Baylor. If he gives us our 3rd losing season in 8 years, he's going to lose a lot of the base, including me. We just saw against Ok State how good we can be, they are supposed to be a favorite to win the Conference, along with OU and Texas - and we should have beaten them. So there is no reason for us finishing below 500 again. I don't buy into the mediocrity accepting motto of "Trust The Climb." We should've/could've won 9 games last year so there is not much "climbing" to do, we're already there.