MORGANTOWN, W.Va.–After a disappointing loss last week, West Virginia bounced back with an impressive 44-27 win over NC State on Saturday afternoon.
In the win, the Mountaineers made several improvements on all three sides of the ball.
- Mentality: With the way the game went against Missouri, it would have been easy for WVU’s youth to bow down to the Wolfpack. Instead, the Mountaineers stepped up their game. They worked hard and battled through adversity.
- Freshman Success: One thing that is certain is WVU has a lot of young talent in the lineup. Redshirt freshman Sam James continued to emerge. He had nine catches for 155 yards and one touchdown. James’ blocking and all-around play has drastically improved since the first game. True freshman Winston Wright and Ali Jennings made splashes in their debuts. Jennings had three receptions for 28 yards and a touchdown while Wright had four for 13 yards. Redshirt freshman James Gmiter and Briason Mays had solid performances on the offensive line in their first collegiate starts. Defensively, the Mountaineers had good showings from Nicktroy Fortune, Tykee Smith and Kerry Martin Jr. When Josh Norwood left the game due to a targeting call, Martin took the majority of the reps and had five tackles and one pass breakup. Smith had two tackles and two breakups.
- Offensive Line improvements: Despite missing Josh Sills and Michael Brown, WVU’s offensive line improved tremendously. Gmiter, Mays and John Hughes all started. Mays is poised to be the team’s future at center.
- Defensive Improvements: Last week the Mountaineers struggled defensively. In the first half WVU had some struggles with NC State but once the Mountaineers settled in, they took control. In the second half the defense held the Wolfpack to just six points and 97 total yards. After Austin Kendall turned the ball over on the 21 in the third quarter, the defense stood tall and held NC State to just a field goal.
- Special Teams: Special teams had both good and bad things on Saturday. They made a few mistakes that cost them yardage. In the first half, WVU had some costly penalties. However, a Logan Thimons’ blocked punt midway through the third quarter overrode the bad.
Cover Photo Credit: Kelsie LeRose BGS