If you listen to the Voice of Motown Podcast, which I co-host with my good friend Tyler, you’ll know we end every episode with each of us highlighting one good and one bad thing from the previous week and one wish for WVU going into the next week. In this series, I’ll outline more in-depth my good and bad, and add in an ugly, just to fill out the cliché.
While there wasn’t much good about the game on Saturday against the Kansas State Wildcats, there was one group that played up to expectations for the most part – the defensive line. The combination of Akheem Mesidor, Dante Stills, Taijh Alston, and Jordan Jefferson played well, accounting for a combined 4 tackles for a loss and 1 sack in addition to eating up blocks that led to an additional 7 tackles for a loss and 1 QB hurry. While Kansas State ran for 161 yards, the defensive line held Kansas State ton only 12 rushes of more than 4 yards out of 30 carries from the 2nd quarter on. Additionally, if you exclude the 38-yard run in the 3rd quarter, the defensive line helped limit Kansas State to just 3.1 yard per carry during this same time period. This group is special, and I feel like we sometimes take them for granted. While there is plenty to complain about from the defense’s performance on Saturday, the defensive line is not one.
WVU was rushing for 5.4 yard per carry in the first half and 5 yards per carry on first downs. WVU had rushes of 11 and 23 yards. You would think the offensive play callers would run the ball early and often with this type of success, right? WRONG. The offensive player callers (whoever they may be nowadays) chose to call TWICE as many pass plays than rushing plays in the first half. WVU’s average distance to the first down marker on 2nd down was 8 yards. The average distance to first down on 3rd down was 7 yards. We completed 50% of our passes on first down, averaging 6.5 yards per drop back, only 1.5 yards more than the rushing average. By the time the second half rolled around, mistakes and the loss in the battle of field position had given Kansas State a two-score lead, and soon after the start of the 2nd half, a three-score lead. The running game had to be abandoned. However, I believe if we would have trusted the run more often, especially on 1st and 2nd downs, we would have given Kansas State longer fields to drive down, and potentially have a smaller deficit to over come going into the 2nd half.
This name will come as a surprise to no one: Jarret Doege. I defended Doege after the Oklahoma State game. I felt that while he was responsible for a few of the sacks, but the pressure he was facing was too much for almost any quarterback to handle. However, in the Kansas State game, he had clean pockets and a long time to throw on many occasions. Kansas State often dropped 8 and dared Doege to find the open guy. And Doege would wait. And wait. And Wait some more. Eventually, he would get pressured, only to throw the ball away, force a pass, or take a sack. Doege was his own worse enemy in Manhattan. I counted at least 5 times where he held the ball too long and 7 occasions where he overthrew or underthrew his intended receiver. One of these overthrows led to the now infamous confrontation (or lack thereof) between Brown and Doege. For someone that is trusted by the coaches for his decision making and accuracy, this is not the type of performance that you want to see. He finished completing just over 50% of his passes with two interceptions (one of which was not his fault) and two touchdowns. Yet, as highlighted in the Bad, the coaching staff continued to trust him to make decisions and throws to win us the game.
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