West Virginia Mountaineers head coach Neal Brown on Saturday.

For any football program with the rich history that West Virginia University has, a 5-7 season is certainly not up to par. While many feel that the 5-7 record the Mountaineers compiled in 2019 was a letdown, if one were to look into the numbers, they would find that it was a far more successful season than it should have been.

The first and obvious sign of potential problems going into the 2019 season was a new coaching staff. While there was no doubt among Mountaineer fans that Neal Brown would get the program going in the right direction, it was still known that his first season would be tough. Anytime there is a coaching change, it is anyone’s guess as to what the results will be for the first season. Many outlets even had the Mountaineers to fall as far as a 2-10 record in their preseason predictions. Being able to more than double that win total was a success for the coaching staff. Along with the new coaching staff came the depleted roster.

There were many holes left throughout the depth chart with the departure of stellar star power following the 2018 season. Will Grier, David Sills V, Gary Jennings and Trevon Wesco were just a few among the many difference makers  that were no longer on the roster going into the 2019 season. Between graduation and the transfer portal, the Mountaineers had a lot of work to do to replace these players. For the most part, West Virginia was able to put a bandaid on the holes for the season. Austin Kendall and Jarret Doege were both brought in via the transfer portal to fill the hole left by Grier. Both were able to do a sufficient enough job to keep the program afloat throughout the season. Skill players like Sam James and T.J. Simmons were able to fill the holes left by Sills and Jennings. Though despite the passing game not completely tanking for the season, the same cannot be said for the running game.

To say the running game for the Mountaineers in 2019 was bad would be an understatement. Many times throughout the season, it was downright painful to watch when a running play was called. According to ESPN, the Mountaineers did not even crack 900 total rushing yards for the season…AS A TEAM. The result was an average of 73.3 rushing yards per game and a ranking of 128 out of 128 teams in rushing yards. Not what Mountaineers are used to seeing with the mostly spectacular history of running backs. A running game is vital, especially once the whether worsens in the back-half of the season. Being able to win 5 games with such a terrible running game is absolutely mind-blowing.

Taking a step back and examining what just transpired for the Mountaineers this past season, the 5-7 record is certainly not something to be too disappointed with. Between the new coaches, new players and struggles on the field, 2019 had every right to have turned out to be a worse season than it was. While a win at nationally ranked Kansas State may highlight the season, the fact the Mountaineers were able to win any game is remarkable. With so much against them and their backs against the wall, West Virginia did what they do best in taking those odds and making the best of them.