Before Saturday’s game in Manhattan, West Virginia Defensive Coordinator Vic Koenning wrote letters to his players asking them to play harder, faster, and stronger this week than they did last. The defense responded. And during the week, Head Coach Neal Brown told fans and media that he “had a plan” concerning quarterback. He refused to reveal that plan until Saturday. That plan—to start Jarret Doege—worked. And the Mountaineers win their fourth by a final score of 24-20 over Kansas State Wildcats.
Mountaineers Win Their Fourth
In a season where expectations were low, and even Shane Lyons preached patience before the season, a conference road win against a ranked Wildcats team offers an early “signature win” for Brown and his youthful team. The Mountaineers left everything on the field in earning that win, too. Some, unfortunately, left literally everything. Standout senior Josh Norwood nabbed an interception in the second quarter. He extended his fully body and grabbed Skylar Thompson’s well-placed pass out of the air. But Norwood broke his collarbone on the play, effectively ending his college career. Here’s the play.
HE SOARED FOR THIS INT ? pic.twitter.com/CtAp7CgFR6
— ESPN (@espn) November 16, 2019
Despite giving up some critical third down plays– and West Virginia gave up seven of the first 12 third-down attempts by Kansas State–the Mountaineers defense settled in and held Kansas State to 20 points and a meager 3.2 yards per carry on the ground. And it gave up only one first down on the Wildcats’ final five third down plays. Senior Hakeem Bailey sealed the win with a red zone interception with just over thirty seconds left.
Doege Leads The Offense
Doege played his way into the starting quarterback conversation last week against Texas Tech. And Brown rewarded him with the start against the Wildcats. And that decision paid dividends. Doege threw for three touchdowns against a Wildcat team that only surrendered five touchdowns through the air in their first nine games. He threw no interceptions either.
And Brown’s tight lips on the plan probably helped with Doege’s third touchdown. On 3rd and 22, Kansas State, per their tendency, dialed up serious pressure. But Doege used his athleticism to evade that pressure. The Wildcats’ secondary, however, swallowed up the shallow and intermediate routes when the pressure hit Doege. Based on Austin Kendall’s scouting report, this was the right thing to do. Kendall tends to dump off his passes when facing pressure. This movement by the secondary left Bryce Wheaton wide open. Doege evaded the pressure and found him, and Wheaton jogged in untouched for what proved the game-winning touchdown.
Doege finished with 234 yards, three touchdowns, and zero interceptions while completing 67% of his passes. And his efficiency helped the run game, too. Not counting the yardage lost on the sacks, Leddie Brown and Kennedy McKoy combined for 103 yards on 25 rushing attempts. The backs doubled the Mountaineers’ season average of just over 50 rushing yards per game.
Trusting The Climb
Earlier this week, while some fans were doubting the climb, we reevaluated—and reaffirmed—that climb. Brown is a measured and effective young coach. He told us he wanted the Mountaineers to play blue collar football. They did. And the climbed a little higher as the Mountaineers win their fourth game this season.