When predicting West Virginia’s game against Virginia Tech, there were three things I said would happen on Saturday—Garrett Greene would have to play if WVU wanted a chance to win, the defense should keep the Mountaineers in the game and the crowd will be loud and have an impact.
One could argue that all three of those things were correct. Greene played a few snaps, and gave West Virginia’s offense a different look. The defense played well, and kept the Hokies off the board multiple times deep in West Virginia territory. And the crowd was loud and the Mountaineers fed off of it.
To start, West Virginia deserved to win this game. The Mountaineers outplayed Virginia Tech in all three phases of the game. The Mountaineers should have won by more than six points, and the game should not have been as close as it was.
The West Virginia defense was what won West Virginia the game. When the offense stalled, and tried to lose the Mountaineers the game in the fourth quarter, the same defense that could not get off the field late against Maryland, stopped the Hokies at the goal line, winning the game for the Mountaineers.
Red Zone Defense
Against Virginia Tech, the Mountaineer defense was able to make multiple stops inside the red zone. It started in the first half, as Virginia Tech missed a field goal to go into halftime, giving West Virginia momentum and holding the strong lead. In the second half, it was more of the same for the Mountaineers. West Virginia forced Virginia Tech to turn the ball over on downs twice in the fourth quarter. This type of production from a defense that looked suspect against Maryland will be key as WVU enters conference play.
Trust Neal Brown’s Decisions
The quarterback controversy has been a hot topic this season and rightfully so. But at this point, if Neal Brown and his staff believed that Garrett Greene was the guy, we would see him for more than a handful of plays. Greene and Doege both showed their strengths. Doege had a good day passing the ball, except his decision making under pressure almost cost West Virginia the game. Brown knows what he is doing, as he has talked about running a dual quarterback system while at Troy. Brown said he will continue to work Greene in, and fans should trust that if Greene was good enough to be the starter he would be.
Over the past couple of seasons, West Virginia’s field goal unit has been anything but consistent. This year, it appears as they have found the guy. Casey Legg nailed two field goals, including a 44-yard field goal in the second half. On kickoffs, Evan Staley had a good day finding the end zone, and not letting Virginia Tech have many opportunities to return kicks. This type of production on special teams sometimes makes the difference between a win and a loss.
Fans Were BACK!!
Whether watching the game on television, or actually being one of the 60,022 in attendance on Saturday, one could feel the energy at Milan Puskar Stadium. After being away for so long, Mountaineer nation showed out in a big way, and made a difference according to Brown and his players. Brown appreciates the atmosphere the fans created, and said he thought it was a real college football atmosphere.
West Virginia will play Oklahoma on the road this Saturday. They are almost a three-touchdown underdog going into the contest, and will look to beat Oklahoma for the first time since joining the Big 12. It will be a huge road test for a team that has not found success on the road since 2019. I am not sure if this team can pull off the upset, but it will be important to see how guys respond from an emotional win last week.
Photo by Dale Sparks, All Pro Photography