Brown Vows to Build a Winner at West Virginia
MORGANTOWN — The Red Zone became the Dead Zone for the WVU offense Saturday afternoon.
The Mountaineers came away pointless on three trips inside the Texas Tech 20-yard-line, resulting in a 38-17 loss to the Red Raiders at frigid Milan Puskar Stadium.
Adding a little salt to the offensive wounds was the fact WVU also advanced to the Tech 22-yard-line, again coming away with nothing to show on the scoreboard.
Not to be outdone, the Mountaineers’ defense came away scorched early and often. The Red Raiders scored touchdowns on their first five possessions in building a 35-10 halftime edge.
WVU’s offense was potent until it got into scoring position. The hosts passed for a whopping 498 yards. Austin Kendall was 26 of 43 for 355 yards while Bowling Green transfer Jarrett Doege relieved in the late third quarter, completing 11 of 17 tosses for 119 yards.
Freshman receiver Sam James put up impressive numbers, grabbing 14 passes for 223 yards. However, he had several key drops during the contest.
Unfortunately, the WVU ground game once again failed to get untracked. The Mountaineers gained just 51 yards.
“It was a frustrating day all around. I have no great words of wisdom,” WVU coach Neal Brown said at the beginning of his post-game presser. “Offensively, we do things right now to beat ourselves over and over again. We missed our opportunities in the red zone. We lose by 21 and come up scoreless on three trips into the red zone.
“Credit Texas Tech, but we got to be better. Period. We need to make plays when we need to. We moved the ball from 20-to-20.
“We got off to a poor start defensively. We got no pressure on the quarterback all day and they ran they ball efficiently. We did not handle their tempo well and did not have the same intensity upfront we had last week.”
The WVU crowd came to life when Doege entered the game with 22 seconds left in the third quarter. His first series was foiled by two dropped passes. He did lead the the Mountaineers on a scoring drive in the fourth quarter.
The game also marked the much-anticipated debut of freshman running back Tony Mathis. He entered in the second half and made his mark by hauling in a 9-yard TD pass from Doege.
Mathis will be able to play the next three games and still be eligible for a redshirt season.
The setback was the fifth straight for WVU, marking its longest skid since 2012. The Mountaineers are 3-6 and must run the table to become bowl eligible.
Texas Tech improved to 4-5. The Red Raiders welcome TCU this Saturday.
When the questioning was done at the presser, Brown said he wanted to add one more thing for the media to report.
“Because of them (WVU fans), and for them, we will be successful here, and there are some growing pains right now. I promise you, nobody is more frustrated with anything that’s going on on the football field than me,” Brown said. “But we have a high percentage of guys who are going to be back — and not only back for one year but back for three years — and they will get significantly better.
“We will do a better job coaching them, and we will put a product on the field that will match the fans that we have.”
BUBBA’S EER BITS
∫ Offensive line standout Colton McKivitz has been invited to take part in the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala. It will begin the draft process for the former Union Local great.
∫ Josh Sills is recovering nicely from his shoulder surgery. The three-year starter at guard had his brace removed this past week and has resumed weight-room workouts. The former Meadowbrook High all-stater’s absence has created a huge issue on the Mountaineers’ O-line.
∫ Saturday’s game at Kansas State will be a 3:30 p.m. kick.
∫ Saturday’s attendance was 56,573, an impressive turnout for a team with a losing record in frigid weather.
∫WVU will close its home schedule on Saturday, Nov. 23 against Oklahoma State. That will be followed by a road trip to TCU on Friday, Nov. 29.
∫ Texas Tech QB Jett Duffey was impressive. He completed 24 of 34 passes for 354 yards and a TD.
∫ Brown praised the WVU fans passionately in his postgame remarks.
∫ The WVU two-deep depth chart featured a combined 23 freshmen and sophomores.
∫ Weir football and track star Sebastian Spencer was an invited football guest to Saturday’s game.
Bubba Kapral can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org