(Photo by WVU Athletics)
If I’m being honest, I’m just happy we were able to have Mountaineer Football in 2020. However, now that we are eight games into the previously doubted COVID-19 riddled campaign, I have had time to reflect on what the season has become for the Mountaineers.
After the Mountaineers struggled mightily for the most part in 2019, I wasn’t sure what to expect in 2020. Yes, I expected improvements, but it was unclear to me to what extent they would be. The rushing attack couldn’t get much worse, and Jarret Doege would undeniably be better than Austin Kendall. Defensively, I was concerned due to the departure of Vic Koenning. But with the players we had returning, I had confidence the unit would remain afloat.
My assessments going into the year have been proven right and then some. The offense has more than doubled their average yardage per game on the ground, and Jarret Doege has graded out as one of the most suitable quarterbacks in the nation, per Pro Football Focus.
Defensively, West Virginia stands as the Big 12’s top unit, and have been menacing in virtually every contest this season. Jordan Lesley and Jahmile Addae have done a far better job with the defense than Koenning did in 2019 – and it is probably better than Koenning would have done with the defense in 2020.
Everything the team has put on the field this season has pointed in the direction of progress. Although, it has not came without a few bumps in the road.
The Mountaineers have lost three games this season they easily could have won. The one that hurt the worst was the loss in Lubbock against Texas Tech. The 34-27 loss to the Red Raiders is unquestionably the worst of Neal Brown’s tenure so far. Though at that moment, and at the times of the other two losses, I began to question this program’s development, with time, I have accepted it as a part of the program’s process.
Dana Holgorsen left the Mountaineers in a mess, and Neal Brown has began to right the ship as quickly as he could. With the poor situation the roster was in back in 2019, I was afraid it could be three to five years before Brown would have the Mountaineers where they currently are. But in just under two years on the job, he has already made the program competitive again.
The Mountaineers have held their ground, and that is why I have been especially satisfied with the team in 2020. Neal Brown has the program competing, and with experience those three close losses will turn into wins.
It hasn’t been anything outstanding, but the 2020 season has been everything I wanted with the Mountaineers. I am not ready to call them Big 12 contenders in 2021, but if they can close the season with two solid performances against Iowa State and Oklahoma, I will be damn close to making that bold statement.
The Climb doesn’t happen overnight. It is slow and steady, and in the end, the views at the top of the mountain will be everything Mountaineer Nation has been waiting for.
Let’s Go Mountaineers