Neal Brown and the West Virginia Mountaineers got the win they so desperately needed on
Thursday night. The Mountaineers beat Virginia Tech 33-10, and there are a lot of positives
(and some negatives) to take away from their victory.
Justin Johnson Jr. Emerges
After last Saturday’s victory over Towson, you would think this backfield would not have room
for Justin Johnson — think again. Johnson would see extended playing time after Tony Mathis
fumbled the ball and he took advantage. On the night, Johnson would rush for 83 yards on 11
attempts with a touchdown. For Mathis, his starting role might be in jeopardy as Johnson and
freshman CJ Donaldson played really well.
Offensive Line Play
This was by far the best game the offensive line has played. Besides the one sack allowed and
the procedure penalty on James Gmiter, the offensive line kept the pocket clean and were
really good when West Virginia ran the ball. If the o-line plays like that going forward, this
Mountaineer team will have a serious chance to stay in games.
In the first half, the secondary looked horrible. They were consistently getting beat and made
Grant Wells look somewhat good. Early on, Wesley McCormick got burned on a touchdown and
there were multiple pass interference calls on West Virginia’s defense when they didn’t need to
even touch their man. The second half was better, capped off with the pick-six from Jacolby
Spells. Hopefully if you are West Virginia this group figures it out and takes some confidence
from this performance.
JT Daniels was not himself in the first half. He was missing throws and was not as accurate.
However, that final drive where Daniels found Sam James for a touchdown to end the half
seemed to help him get dialed in. Daniels would finish with 203 yards and one touchdown,
while completing 20 of his 30 passing attempts.
Receivers besides BFW
Bryce Ford-Wheaton has owned this wide receiver room, and it was only a matter of time until
an opposing defense was able to contain him. Ford-Wheaton had three catches for 23 yards,
but seven other receivers caught a pass from Daniels. Kaden Prather again had himself a night,
finishing with six receptions for 69 yards. Mike O’Laughlin also stepped up, having three catches
for 33 yards despite dropping a wide-open touchdown.
Reese Smith is not the answer at PR
Reese Smith almost had another costly muffed punt. That is two in four games, and there has to
be a better answer back there plain and simple. Smith returned one punt and finished with -2
yards. There has to be a better, more reliable answer than Smith.
Neal Brown owns VT
Neal Brown might have bought himself some serious time with this win. Brown said there was
no panic over the last two weeks and he is now 2-0 against the rival Hokies. Brown took his
team into a hostile environment and showed the ability to go for it when it mattered.