Six Takeaways From WVU’s Loss to Virginia Tech
We take a look back at some of the good and the bad from WVU’s loss to Virginia Tech.
MORGANTOWN, W.Va.–On Sunday evening, West Virginia and Virginia Tech renewed their rivalry in primetime at FedEx Field in Landover, MD. and it was anything but boring.
While the 21st-ranked Hokies defeated the 22nd-ranked Mountaineers 31-24, there were some positives, as well as some negatives.
1. Will Grier is the real deal
The hype around the redshirt junior quarterback has been high since he transferred to WVU. Once Grier got the rust shaken off, he cruised to a phenomenal game. He looked poised at the reigns of the offense and passed for 371 yards and three touchdowns. When he couldn’t find an open man, the Davidson, N.C. native, got the job done himself, rushing for 59 yards.
Combined with Gary Jennings, David Sills and Ka’Raun White, the quartet will strike fear into a lot of secondaries this season. The three highly-praised wide outs made several big plays on the night.
2. Justin Crawford is going to have a big year
As long as he stays healthy, Justin Crawford is to pick up right where he left off last season. Against a Virginia Tech defense that held opponents to an average of 140 yards per game last season. The Mountaineers picked up 234 rushing yards against the Hokies, 106 of which came from Crawford himself. And it was the senior’s 42-yard run in the second quarter that got WVU’s offense going.
3. Wide receivers have potential
Gary Jennings, David Sills and Ka’Raun White all had big plays. Jennings had his best game yet with 13 receptions for 189 yards. There were some dropped passes that should of been caught but overall the three starters looked good. If other receivers start stepping up, it could be a special group.
4. The Mountaineers defense has promise
Early on, WVU defense was on point. The starting 11 were solid but the Mountaineers lacked depth. As the game progressed, the defense appeared to fatigue, allowing Virginia Tech quarterback Josh Jackson to get some big plays. Freshman nose tackle Lamont McDougle showed a lot of potential. WVU’s defense gave up 234 yards on the ground and 235 in the air. Plus they failed to create turnovers. However, the effort was there. The defense worked hard but lack of experience caught up with them. The Mountaineers did hold the Hokies to three of 15 on third down. As the season goes on, things should start to come together for this group.
5. Special teams are still a weak area
Special teams have always been an area of concern for WVU. While the Mountaineers didn’t botch any returns, they still didn’t attempt to gain any yardage. Then on one play Jennings could have called for a fair catch at the 29 but let the ball bounce back to the 3. The offense was unable to move the ball and Virginia Tech scored on the next possession. Billy Kinney had a rough night on punts. His average punt was 36 yards and his longest of the night was 46. Kinney’s struggles could have been an injury or cramps as he appeared to hobble around. Last season Kinney averaged 41.7 yards per punt and had a long of 63. This will be an area that needs improvement.
6. WVU and Virginia Tech should play more often
Despite the outcome for the Mountaineers, the game was fun. A neutral-site stadium was packed with 67,489 raucous fans that made the trip. The parking lots were full hours before the game with fans tailgating and doing a little trash talk. Fans were getting out of their cars in the chaotic traffic to drink beer and mingle with other fans while waiting to get into the stadium. Chants of “Let’s Go Mountaineers” and “Let’s Go Hokies” echoed the parking lots. Leading up to the game, there was a lot of hype for the battle between bitter rivals and the game didn’t let fans down. It was a back-and-forth heart stopper that went down to the final play as WVU was in the red zone and threatening to tie the game as the clock winded down.
Despite suffering a loss on the first game of the season, the Mountaineers have a lot of potential. As the season goes forward and aspects of the game become polished, it is still very possible for WVU to have a good year.
Photo Credit: Kelsie LeRose, BGS