Let’s be honest, nobody really expected West Virginia to be Big 12 contenders this season. Better, sure, but not competing with the elites of the conference. Last Saturday’s loss to Texas Tech is evident of that. The Mountaineers made mistakes that young players do, and it resulted in a heartbreaking loss. No, Texas Tech is not a better team than West Virginia, they are just more disciplined at this moment.
West Virginia has made progress on the field, but it isn’t enough to garner them as a bona fide upper tier Big 12 team. What we have seen on the field so far is play of a team that is somewhere along the middle of the pack, albeit a hot-and-cold one at that. The Mountaineers are just really youthful right now. Sure, many players on the field saw playing time last season, but they just haven’t fully developed into the player they can be. What is also holding the Mountaineers back is recruiting. Not Neal Brown’s recruiting, but rather the since departed Dana Holgorsen’s.
The cupboard was left bare by Holgorsen, and West Virginia is still experiencing the ramifications of that. Though they do have playmakers, what they are lacking is difference-makers. Brown has tried to fill these holes through way of transfer, but the results are just not there at this time – particularly on offense. Outside of Leddie Brown, and Jarret Doege doing his absolute best, the help just isn’t there. The receivers have been inconsistent at best, and the offensive line is spotty in their pass protection at times. There is only so much a coach can do when the same players are making the same mistakes every game.
Coach Brown is beginning to build his program through recruiting. The Mountaineers are currently ranked in the top half of the conference for the 2021 class, according to 247Sports, and the staff is hard at work for the future. Sooner or later, these solid classes will begin to show results on the field. Yes, we have solid players committed, but they have to step foot on the field and develop, and Brown just hasn’t been in Morgantown long enough to fully show the talent he is attracting.
This is why I feel the Mountaineers are still a year away on the field. This season will likely look like the .500 mediocrity that we became accustomed to seeing with Holgorsen, but that is okay. After all, his fingerprints are still all over this program. We just do not have the talent, experience, or depth right now to compete at an extremely high level in the Big 12. However, next year will be the first season under Brown that we do.
His first class will have a season under their belts, and his second class will have made their way to Morgantown. Our players on the field right now will be a year better, and if all things go well, should be ready to take that next step. We are not that far off, we just have to TRUST THE CLIMB. I know it is not fun and that it is not always easy to have patience, but it is just where we are at right now.
West Virginia will be back under Coach Brown, and likely, better than ever.