A convincing win over one of your rivals, especially one that awards you a trophy, would make any team feel good. That’s exactly the current vibe now around the West Virginia football program, and that’s a contrast to the dark atmosphere surrounding the program just a couple weeks ago.
Even though there are several reasons to feel better about the season after beating Virginia Tech 33-10 in Blacksburg, the work is not nearly done and the schedule does not get any easier, in fact it gets quite tougher over the next two weeks with two ranked Big 12 conference teams waiting for the Mountaineers.
With all of that said, here are the biggest takeaways from WVU’s victory on Thursday night.
The defense can take over a game
An aspect of the team that many viewed as a strength entering the season, especially due to uncertainty around on offense with a new offensive coordinator and new quarterback, instantly became the problem after one of the worst losses in recent memory. It was the defense that let the offense, which has far exceeded expectations and shows flashes of being one of the best in the country, down when the Mountaineers lost to Kansas on a rainy night in Morgantown.
But from that point on, the defense has answered the bell. A shutout, albeit against an FCS opponent, and then imposing its will in a beat down of the Hokies has done wonders to validate a solid showing in Pittsburgh to start the season and expectations from the offseason. This is most evident by only allowing 10 points from the opposing offense in those last two games, only giving up 36 yards on the ground by Virginia Tech and even minimizing passing and converting a defensive score thanks to a pick from the secondary without star cornerback Charles Woods. unfortunately for the defense, it won’t get any easier moving forward and this team will need this effort and then some to keep turning the season around.
Read more about the defense in detail by reading the article below.
Calling JT Daniels level-headed is an understatement
From players to coaches, everyone has raved about JT Daniels since the moment he stepped foot on WVU’s campus in May, most notably about his even-keel tendency and ability to be unfazed by anything. Daniels displays the qualities any team would want in its quarterback and leader. He carries himself like the true veteran that he is. This was evident in the Virginia Tech win more than any other.
For the first time this season since the opening quarter against Pitt, the Mountaineers offense was struggling. WVU’s signal caller, who had been playing at an elite level despite the team standing at only 1-2 entering the game, was also a bit off. He usually puts the ball where only his receivers can get to it, but that was not the case on the first couple series in Blacksburg. A few passes were even overthrown beyond where the receiver could get to them. Receivers were dropping balls too, but it was just not the best of Daniels either. Then, he connected on a 24-yard strike to Sam James to close the half. Everything changed from that point on.
Daniels finished the game with only 10 incompletions, connecting on 20 of 30 overall for 203 yards and that touchdown pass. His statistics were not eye-popping, but they were good enough and efficient, most notably in the second half. Daniels showed he can overcome adversity, not let an “off” quarter unravel, not get down on himself and play with a maturity of “we will be fine” no matter the circumstances. WVU needed to see this from Daniels just as much as another 300+ yard performance.
This season has not been lost and can be saved
No one is going to completely forget the loss to Kanas at home. And no one should. It stung the team more than it hurt any fan. Every Mountaineer echoed that it was just not good enough and there were no excuses to make. All of that is still true, but now a couple games later this team has an opportunity to not let that one bad night ruin a season some felt had promise.
The 2-2 Mountaineers are coming off a win in their rival’s place and two of their best overall performances as a team in awhile. There are good vibes to be felt. The conversation about the team is not all about who needs fired and how bleak the future can be, but includes optimism. This is why the Virginia Tech game had to go the way it did as much as anything.
A difficult schedule awaits this team, but if WVU can keep rolling and complete upsets over these next two games, really even if they just win one of them, Neal Brown’s team could show the type of climb that’s been sold to people but hasn’t been delivered in recent years. And when you have a stud quarterback and a defense fulfilling the expression of “running around with their hair on fire,” you can beat anyone.