3 Keys to West Virginia Football Finishing Season Strong Against Oklahoma State
Motivation might be hard to find in a game that won’t change much for the Mountaineers, but closing the 2022 season with a win, even without the possibility of a bowl game, could help to offer fans hope for the future. The distinction of being the first West Virginia team to beat both Oklahoma and Oklahoma State in the same season is also something head coach Neal Brown and the players talked about wanting to accomplish.
The Cowboys are vulnerable and in the midst of experiencing their own issues, making a win actually possible for a 4-7 WVU team on the road. But for this game, there are three things WVU needs to do no matter the outcome.
Get Nicco Marchiol game action
If there’s any blessing for WVU to not be playing for a bowl game in Week 13, it’s the opportunity to get a look at younger players in a game against a conference opponent. Quarterback wise, the obvious thought would be to give starter Garrett Greene as much time as possible, but he’s not the only talented quarterback on the roster.
Greene deserves to keep starting, especially since he may very well end up being the guy to open next season unless the Mountaineers go back to the portal and land a veteran, a move that didn’t end up working out with JT Daniels. But with that said, getting freshman Nicco Marchiol time against an actual legitimate FBS team could do wonders for his progression too. He did appear in one game this season, but it was against FCS Towson. This could be a chance to actually see what Marchiol can do when having FBS talent without doing so costing the team something. And let’s face it, there’s also the thought that Marchiol may decide to transfer if Greene, a sophomore, is WVU’s 2023 starter since that could mean sitting for as many as two more seasons as a backup, which wouldn’t likely be appealing to a recruit who had other options. Maybe giving Marchiol the fourth quarter, or even second half, could help appease the young quarterback, and maybe that’s more important than any other reason to play him too.
The most frustrating part about such a rough season for WVU has been the inconsistency in performances. That means following up a solid showing with a sluggish start in the next week’s game, often leading to being blown out. This all started when after playing Pitt close on the road in the midst of a rowdy atmosphere, WVU was then upset at home by Kansas. Successfully defending the Black Diamond Trophy in Blacksburg with a win on national television over Virginia Tech was followed by a blow out loss to Texas. The luster of a big win over Baylor worse off with a poor effort in Lubbock, losing 48-10 to Texas Tech the next week. Play TCU, the undefeated class of the Big 12, close and then fail to move the ball against the conference’s worst team in Iowa State. It’s been a roller coaster type season for the Mountaineers.
WVU fans deserve to see their team play hard, even without anything on the line. Seeing this team play well for pride could at least offer a feel good end to an otherwise miserable season.
If nothing else, take care of the football and try to force takeaways
Only once all season was WVU able to win a game while losing the turnover margin. Oddly enough, that was the first win for the program over Oklahoma since joining the Big 12. But turnovers have been a problem all year. JT Daniels, who was the team’s starting quarterback until Garrett Greene relieved him early against the Sooners and then sparked the team to victory, threw interceptions at the end of both the Pitt and Kansas loss, which resulted in the first 0-2 start to a season for the program since 1979.
Daniels tossed three picks against Texas Tech, each of which compounded the day day for the Mountaineers. Greene’s two interceptions last week in the loss to Kansas State caused some to wonder if the Oklahoma game may not be the norm for him under center. This all took place with the WVU defense struggling to generate takeaways in most games. Turning the ball over while simultaneously failing to force turnovers yourself equates to losing season without a bowl game of any kind.
No matter what happens on Saturday, the 2022 season will go down as one of the worst for the West Virginia program, certainly in recent memory. And three losing seasons in four years, especially with a program that only experienced three losing seasons from 1999 to 2018 is a bad look for Brown. These are both facts, but all that’s left to do now is to end the season offering a reason for some positivity, something there hasn’t been enough of all season long.