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West Virginia Football First Half Season Grades

The West Virginia football team has begun the first half of their season slipping to a 2-4 overall record after falling at Baylor two weekends ago before a bye week separated the first and second half of the season for the Mountaineers last weekend.

It hasn’t been a pretty stretch of games by any means for the Mountaineers who could very well be a 4-2 team in the complete other direction but a couple bad halves of football, not running the ball effectively and a last second field goal in Norman have sunk the Mountaineers to a losing mark.

Offense: D

One of the biggest parts of West Virginia’s game that they have struggled with has been the running game and rushing for over 100 yards. This season has seen the Mountaineers rank last in the Big 12 in rushing while averaging 108.3 yards per game.

A crazy statistic to keep in mind is that in Neal Brown’s time since he’s been in Morgantown, when West Virginia rushes the ball for over 100 yards they are 9-0, and when they don’t hit the 100-yard rushing mark in a given game, the team is 4-15.

This problem can also mainly be pointed at the offensive line in which the right side of the line includes some new faces in Virginia Tech junior transfer Doug Nester and redshirt sophomore Parker Moorer, as well as freshman Wyatt Milum.

If West Virginia’s going to have success on offense rushing the ball, they may want to think about inserting a second running back besides backup quarterback Garrett Greene into the game behind lead running back Leddie Brown.

The area of the offense that West Virginia has had the most success in this season has been throwing the football to talented wide receivers like redshirt junior Bryce Ford-Wheaton and junior Winston Wright Jr. The Mountaineers have been averaging 265.83 yards per game through the air this season with 7.78 yards averaged per snap.

Defense: C  

The team’s weakness on the defensive side of the ball has been allowing dominant passing performances like the team’s most previous loss to Baylor in which Bears quarterback Gerry Bohanon tossed over the Mountaineer defense for 336 yards and four touchdowns. The longest play of the day came on a 75-yard touchdown connection between Bohanon and receiver TyQuan Thornton.

On average this season, West Virginia’s defense has been surrendering 248.5 yards through the air per game and 7.8 passing yards per play through the first half of the year.

If the Mountaineers want to limit passing attacks in a conference that is known for the air raid and long passing games, senior leaders in the secondary in Alonzo Addae and Sean Mahone will have to lead by example and shut down passing attacks coming their way.

The reason I gave West Virginia a C in the defensive department for the first half of this season is because the team still has a very solid core on the defensive front that has been disguised well at times and has confused opponent’s quarterbacks in route to a sack.

The most impressive performance of the season so far has been red shirt sophomore bandit Jared Bartlett’s three sacks on Virginia Tech quarterback Braxton Burmeister and five total tackles the third week of the season. Other standouts on the defensive front this year have been Taijh Alston, Dante Stills and Akheem Mesidor.

Special Teams: A

The play of West Virginia’s special teams and the return game in particular has been a bright spot for the Mountaineers as they have been able to average 30 yards per return. The Mountaineer who is most responsible for the stellar return game has been Wright Jr. who has taken out 14 kickoff returns for 442 yards.

Wright Jr. began the season at Maryland in week one taking back a kickoff for a season long 98-yard touchdown scamper.

Coaching: D

Much of Mountaineer nation has been confused with the wasted timeouts early in halves that head coach Neal Brown and his staff have been taking when they could be used later in the game in critical convert situations. Besides the point, West Virginia coaches have some things to work on heading into the second half of the season wherever it may be on the field in various position groups if they would like to reach a bowl game.

(Top Photo: Bryan Doughtery)

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