Does winning a game that still results in a losing season without a bowl game mean anything for West Virginia? Well, that’s debatable, but what’s not debatable is what was evident about the Mountaineers, both present and future by beating Oklahoma State 24-19.
Nicco Marchiol has legit potential
WVU head coach Neal Brown talked postgame about how he wanted to see what freshman quarterback Nicco Marchiol could do against the Cowboys because he finally started showing he could handle it in practice. That means two things – Marchiol wouldn’t have been ready earlier in the season and Brown was liking what he was seeing from the young prospect he recruited from Arizona recently.
Marchiol didn’t exactly set the world on fire numbers wise, but demonstrated a maturity to know when it’s best to just manage the game and not make mistakes trying to do too much. He also displayed an ability to use his legs that could excite WVU fans.
It was obviously just half of one game and he still has a long way to go, but Marchiol’s appearance accomplished what it was intended to – provide optimism about the quarterback position overall.
WVU has 99 problems, but the running game isn’t one
CJ Donaldson once responded to a question about emerging and becoming a duo with Tony Mathis by saying he doesn’t see them as a duo and any running back on the roster could be doing the same thing if given the opportunity. While that sounded hard to believe and just someone trying to be a good teammate at the time, it’s been proven true. On Saturday, it was Jaylen Anderson who lead the West Virginia offense on the ground. Anderson ran for 155 yards, mostly thanks to two explosive touchdown runs of 57 and 54 yards.
Anderson became the fourth Mountaineer to run for over 100 yards in a game during the 2022 season, joining Mathis, Donaldson and quarterback Garrett Greene. His big rushing performance also gave the team well over 200 rushing yards in the game, which is a benchmark the team reached in each one of the five wins. Despite it not resulting to enough success for the team overall, it’s safe to say the WVU running backs answered any concern about how they could replace Leddie Brown this year. Their success also helped prove offensive coordinator Graham Harrell’s argument that the “Air Raid” doesn’t fit him and he employs more of a balanced offense when it’s working.
Mountaineers answered call to finish strong
WVU played well and played hard in a game without anything on the line except for pride. Every coach would have tried to convey the “play for pride” message ahead of meaningless game, but the Mountaineers actually listened. Now that doesn’t make up for the entire season, or even all four seasons as head coach for Brown, but it does speak to the respect the group has for him and even themselves. This was especially true on defense, putting together one of their better efforts all season as a road underdog to end the season.
A 5-7 season isn’t anything to be proud of overall and not something Mountaineer Nation will ever accept, but a quality win at least created a better vibe to finish on than another bad day and an eighth loss.