(Photo Courtesy of Iowa State Athletics)
Rest versus rust has been a debate for a long time. Rust showed early for WVU against Iowa State. The Mountaineers struggles on the road continued, and an old headache reemerging with just 13 yards rushing in the first half. Leddie Brown was gobbled up time after time at the line of scrimmage. This isn’t a new trend for the junior running back. A significant amount of Brown’s yards this season have come after contact. Simply put, Iowa State owned the line of scrimmage in the first half. Both defensively and offensively.
West Virginia made a little buzz on the first drive as usual moving the ball 43 yards. Brown was churning out as many yards as he could with 3 or 4 yards a pop. Jarret Doege hit Sean Ryan for a nice 26 yard chunk play pickup. Ultimately the drive was done in by a Brown false start penalty on 4th and 2, forcing a Tyler Sumpter punt. It was all Iowa State from that point on. The Cyclones put together three straight touchdown drives, two of which went over 75 yards. Brock Purdy was an efficient 10 for 12 with 127 yards. Purdy took what the WVU defense gave him on a few scrambles for first downs and made no mistakes. Breece Hall got his as well with 51 yards on 12 carries and an opening drive 23 yard touchdown run.
The Mountaineer defense didn’t play a terrible first half, but the big plays weren’t made that they’re accustomed to. The first half showed a yards discrepancy of 236-101 in favor of the Cyclones. WVU made Iowa State earn every one of those 236 yards playing solid coverage and tackling Hall in the backfield a few times. Iowa State just refused to get off the field going 6 for 7 on third down conversions in the first 30 minutes. Protecting Purdy was the key factor in the offensive success early for Iowa State. The Mountaineers seemed to be socially distancing themselves from the opposing quarterback the entire half. Trench play powered the Cylcones to a 21-0 halftime lead.
WVU went away from the run game trailing by three scores to start the second half. Slowly but surely the offense was moving the ball, four yards at a time. WVU didn’t have the firepower for splash plays but, methodically they marched their way into Iowa State territory on their first two possessions. Both were stopped on 4th down mistakes by TJ Simmons. On the first, Simmons ran a 5 yard route on a 4th and 6. Simmons then dropped a wide open pass on 4th and 3 on the second opportunity. Iowa State was able to take advantage of solid field position. Five plays later, Purdy found Charlie Kolar for a 16 yard TD pass that crippled any thought of a comeback.
Entering the 4th quarter trailing 35-0, the goal became to just score points for West Virginia. It took a field goal from the punter Tyler Sumpter before points were on the board with 12 minutes left in the game. Sumpter added another field goal with 3 minutes left and might be the kicker going forward. Good for that guy. West Virginia’s ugliest performance in 2020 ended in a 42-6 loss to the favorite for the Big 12 title.
Doege just does what he is asked to do. Nothing more, nothing less. Everyone can call for his job all you want but this marks the 5th consecutive game without an interception. He has absolutely zero help from his receiving corps. His completion percentage could probably be 73% with half the drops he’s had this season. Jarret Doege is not this offense’s issue and won’t be. This is as solid of a quarterback as you can have in college football.
Running back: C
Leddie Brown laid a big ol’ goose egg today. No, the offensive line doesn’t help him. Not even a little bit. But you’re starting to see the bad habits trickle in that were there last year. The missed holes and lateral movement doesn’t bode well for an offense that has trouble getting its engine started anyway. I know the offensive line isn’t great but there are holes somewhere. Brown did a lot of lateral movement at the line of scrimmage today, especially when he wasn’t behind a blocker and outside the tackles. Brown doesn’t have the jets to beat anyone to the outside. Plant your foot, get up field, and get what you can. Less than 3 yards per carry isn’t going to get it done.
When it was announced Sam James and Bryce Ford-Wheaton (prayers for your recovery) were going to miss this game, I was excited to see who would step up. Turns out, no one did. It did seem that Sean Ryan and Isaiah Esdale do a better job of catching the ball than the two starters. However, I have yet to see a receiver on this team that can track a ball past 20 yards. A lot of throws get blamed on Doege overthrows and that’s just not the case. A majority of the time, the receiver is either running off line or stops their route on deep throws. None of them know how to attack the football. Winston Wright made a business decision on a pretty 30 yard ball from Doege and just decided not to catch it. WVU better find some receivers and find them before next season.
Offensive Line: D
Brandon Yates was on skates all night. Sacks happened in bunches on Doege. Only a glimpse of a hole every now and then was available in the run game. This group has steadily improved all season. Tonight it looked like they reverted back to the Oklahoma State game. They just didn’t have it. At times it looked like half the line was moving and half wasn’t. There was no synchronization within this group tonight. They were not even getting off the ball at the same time. I do think the line is the most impacted position group by a long layoff. It’s still not an excuse.
Defensive Line: C
Today confirmed something I had been hinting at all year. An overrated defensive line. I had been back and forth in my brain all year about whether this line was performing up to it’s billing or not. In my opinion, they hadn’t been all they were cracked up to be. Not much pressure all year and tackles for loss disappeared in many spurts. I gave them the benefit of the doubt for still holding the line of scrimmage stout. Tonight proved to me that they are not living up to their potential. Gashed for over 200 yards rushing and zero sacks, unable to contain Brock Purdy all night. The talent is there, they need to go show it.
Tony Fields led the team again in tackles. Unfortunately, Josh Chandler-Semedo, VanDarius Cowan, and even Fields himself missed a ton of tackles. I believe this is another downfall of a long time off in my opinion. Chandler-Semedo was lost in coverage. The large tight ends Iowa State possess are hard to cover, but too many times they were trailed by a WVU defender. The defense had their worst performance of the year tonight and a lot of it was due to the front 6 or 7.
Defensive Backs: B
It was a tall, tall task for the WVU secondary, literally. The Cyclones have four receivers listed at 6 foot 6 or taller. The secondary still did a pretty good job covering. Yes, Purdy completed almost 90% of his passes but a lot of them were early scramble check downs. WVU did cover well. The underneath of the defense couldn’t keep Purdy contained. You can only ask so much of a secondary. And again, this group doesn’t give up YAC.
Special Teams: F
It took our punter to make a field goal. I think that’s all that needs to be said here.
Offensive Player of the Game: Tyler Sumpter
He’s the only one that scored. Twice. How could we not give it to him?
Defensive Player of the Game: The Game Clock
This was the only reason Iowa State didn’t hang 80 on WVU. It’s only a 60 minute game thankfully.
WVU finishes their season up with the postponed game against Oklahoma Saturday in Morgantown.