WVU’s Biggest Opponent Isn’t Pitt

Let’s face some realities in the understanding that WVU is a decent trek from the top of the heap compared to the whole country. Well, as it turns out, it would seem Pitt is in even worse shape than we are. With the Backyard Brawl only days away, there is literally no excuse for the Mountaineers not to be victorious; then again, we have thought all that before.

As recently as last year, the pre-season hype train was at a premium, and J.T. Daniels was going to deliver us to the promised land with his otherworldly accuracy. The receiving corps was ready, the running back room was hungry, and the stage was set for a dog fight. And we got a fight – we just forgot how to throw haymakers when it mattered. You don’t punt the ball with a winnable 4th down situation and leave it in the hands of a defensive secondary that never played competitive ball the entire season. You make the catches you must make when they are clutch. That makes those top-tier teams so consistent – they deliver in those critical moments and earn renown.

Pitt Isn’t Ready for a Packed House

Pitt has not been to Morgantown since 2011, and even though players on that squad were little more than third graders, rest assured the Mountaineer faithful remember the right lyrics to Sweet Caroline.  In their last 10 trips to Milan Puskar Stadium, the Panthers have left with an L 70% of the time.

As they stumbled against the first of their Big 12 opponents last weekend, Pitt has shown some vulnerabilities that can be exploited for a resounding victory. That is if we don’t get in our own way on that winning path.

WVU wins this weekend with:

Rushing Yards – It turns out, Pitt is not that great at stopping the run. If we lean on our experienced offensive line and let CJ Donaldson get some lanes, we will put up more than the 216 Cincinnati hung on the Pitt Panthers this past Saturday night.

Accurate Throws – Maybe I’m just looking at it wrong, but in two games, Greene has averaged a 58% accuracy on his throws. You factor out drops by receivers, you are looking at a much healthier number. While off to a slow start against the Dukes, after the impromptu halftime on account of bad weather, Greene was a force to be reckoned with, dropping well-placed balls in the hands of everyone’s new favorite receiver – Hudson Clement. You get some flashes of accuracy for the packed house Saturday night, and Devin Carter and Clement will take care of the rest

Somewhat Positioned Defense – QB Phil Jurkovec only had a 31% accuracy in his deliveries against a questionable Cincinnati defense. Since we can relate with some significant glaring concerns in our secondary, even moderately successful defense combined with pass rushing by Trey Lathan, Lee Kpogba, and Mike Lockhart should be enough to compromise this percentage yet again.

If only we could stop there. The truth is that more than any other opponent in the country playing college football, WVU beats themselves more consistently than anyone. If the Mountaineers fall to the Panthers in Morgantown under the lights, it might be attributed to some of our fatal flaws.

WVU Loses This Weekend with:

Taking Too Long to Click – Let’s look at Duquesne. It was the middle of the second quarter, stretched out by nearly two hours before WVU found their rhythm and took care of business. In such a tense game representing one of the deepest rivalries in college football, you may not get the chance to recover late in the second quarter and start playing.

Playing Out of Position – We are running a variation of zone defense and doing a pretty poor job. Our corners and safeties are playing well off the point of contact with the ball, leaving a lot of ground to be outmaneuvered or just for a player to gain positive yardage before tackling. Hopefully, we take this week and tighten up some formations to give less room for success in the passing game.

Weak Play Calls – Safe just sucks. It’s not exciting football or fun to watch, and you can’t even argue it is winning us games. Play like each game is the last one you will coach, and you must pull out all the stops and stop leaning on statistics for how things usually go. It’s the Brawl. Bring out everything in the chamber no one has seen before and make the fans believe in that climb again – or get packing.

Image by Yahoo Sports

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Benjamin Gilbert
Benjamin Gilbert here - panhandle resident and enjoyer of Pitt losses. First and foremost, I am a lifelong West Virginia Mountaineer fan and do my best to inspire that passion in my beautiful wife and talented kids. Unfortunately, fandom doesn't always pay the bills. I have been writing for a decade and a half for various professions and multi-faceted franchises, so writing is what I do. Combining my skills with my passion for the WVU teams, I always seek to provide fair and honest takes on our path to finding the top of college athletics. Let's Go.