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Phoenix, Arizona – Minnesota is not a talented pass-rushing team. In fact, that is one of the only things that the Golden Gophers do poorly, defensively.

In the first half of the Guaranteed Rate Bowl, West Virginia made Minnesota look like one of the most dominant, powerful defensive lines in the nation.

The offensive line has obviously been an issue, but Jarret Doege’s inability to escape pressure is the major issue. Doege must be able to do more than simply put his head down and accept sacks. If he doesn’t have the mobility to do that – and it doesn’t appear that he does – Neal Brown has to turn to someone, anyone else.  

Neal Brown’s unusual decision to run a high-speed, pass-happy offense certainly backfired for most of the first half. The Mountaineers would be much more difficult to stop if Tony Mathis was paired with a mobile, dual-threat quarterback – Garrett Greene? – but Brown will likely stick with Doege for the entire game, whether that’s the right decision to make or not.

Speaking of Tony Mathis, he has been outstanding in his first career start, rushing 11 times for 43 yards. He definitely looks the part of next year’s Leddie Brown replacement as the workhorse for the Mountaineers.

For West Virginia to win this game, they will have to go to a short, quick passing game that allows Doege to get the ball out of his hand before Minnesota’s defense gets near him. 123 yards of total offense is just not going to get it done against a tough team like Minnesota.

Interesting tidbit 

ESPN commentator Rod Gilmore asked if Jarret Doege would return for his sixth year of eligibility, or “go to the league.” Not sure what league Gilmore is referring to, but Doege is not considered an NFL Draft prospect by any expert or analyst.

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