When Neal Brown was hired all the way back in January 2019, this is the Mountaineer Football team I expected. Though he came in with an air raid background, his time at Troy was spent running the ball and playing good defense. As a Mountaineer fan, I knew this was the brand of football we must transition to if we hoped to ever have a chance in the Big 12. We had seen the “throw it around and outscore them” style of play for seven seasons, and it had not worked.
The 2020 Mountaineers have completely turned the script on that. This is easily the best Mountaineer defense we have seen since 2010 with Bruce Irvin and Keith Tandy. Despite Kansas’ offensive struggles helping the cause, West Virginia is now ranked as the best total defense in the nation. When was the last time we could say that in Morgantown? I have been a fan since I was in fourth grade – all the way back in 2007 – and I truly cannot remember West Virginia having a defensive line this elite.
Not only do we have Darius Stills making acrobatic interceptions, but true freshman Akheem Mesidor is making a case for why he may be the best young star in the Big 12. This defensive front for the Mountaineers has made their presence felt in every game this season. Going back to pre-Neal Brown and his staff, that was one of the biggest areas of concern. West Virginia could not get pressure on the quarterback. Now they can and it is making all the difference in the world.
We also need to give some love to this secondary. This was the unit I was most concerned with going into 2020, mostly due to their lack of experience. Boy, have I been proven wrong though, and I have loved every minute of it. Nicktroy Fortune, Dreshun Miller, and Tykee Smith have all had fantastic years, and have really held their own in the backend of the defense. Had this unit have struggled, I’m not sure we would be 3-1 or have the defense that we do. This secondary has quietly been the anchor for the defense.
Offensively it hasn’t always been pretty, but it has got the job done. Leddie Brown has exploded onto the scene, and Jarret Doege has done enough to win games for this team. This isn’t your Will Grier/David Sills offense that could score on anyone at anytime. Instead, it uses the ground game to set up the pass, and the unit is getting the job done. That is all we can ask for as fans.
I absolutely love this team. The 2020 Mountaineers have the feel of a special team if they can continue to trend in the direction they are. What is so promising is this team is still relatively youthful, meaning they have not reached our full potential yet. If nothing else excites you, this should.
I TRUST THE CLIMB, and so should you.