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Lessons Learned for WVU Football’s Maryland Loss

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COLLEGE PARK, MD. – A soul-crushing 30-24 road loss for head coach Neal Brown’s Mountaineer team was not the outcome that anyone on the WVU staff or roster wanted. It goes beyond that, though.

The West Virginia offense was fraught with glaring issues. With 62 plays of total offense, offensive coordinator Gerad Parker’s group only brought in 325 yards. That is largely attributed to QB1 Jarret Doege’s plethora of sacks and interceptions where, normally, an ambitious offense should exist. A handful of receiver drops didn’t help the offensive scheme either.

JARRET DOEGE NEEDS TO FOCUS

As the leader of the offense in his final Mountaineer season, redshirt senior Jarret Doege should have produced a showing on track to mirror last season’s 2,587 yards. Game one against Maryland only added 286 yards to a statistic that easily should have been in the mid-300s coming out of the first game of the season. He now has seven career games of 250 yards or more passing, which puts him at no. 6 in program history.

Five sacks spaced throughout the game certainly didn’t help, especially after this off-season was spent primarily speeding up his pocket movement. Tack on two interceptions, one in the Mountaineer end zone, and you end up with a quarterback who doesn’t look prepared for conference play.

To put tonight’s two interceptions in perspective among a season-wide timeline, Doege only had four interceptions the entirety of last season’s 10 games.

Doege, not a rushing quarterback by any means, chose to rush the ball twice to the tune of a two-yard gain and a 40-yard loss. Even for a primarily passing quarterback, netting -38 yards rushing is abysmal.

DEFENSE SHOULDN’T SHOULDER ALL THE BLAME

Defensively, the Mountaineers were stronger, but it didn’t kick in until the Terrapins had already layered on 17 points in the first quarter.

“Overall, I’m proud of the guys,” middle linebacker Josh Chandler-Semedo said. “We fought hard. We had adversity. We fought back from adversity. We also showed some weaknesses that we’ve got to correct.”

The defense didn’t allow a single Maryland first down in the third quarter, and UMD converted zero of its three third downs, but Chandler-Semedo isn’t happy.

“We gave up 17 of those 30 points in the first quarter,” Chandler-Semedo said. “We’re in that situation because of us. They [WVU] scored 21 in the first quarter, so they helped us when we were down in the first quarter. We’ve got to do our part in the third quarter.”

For the coaching staff, depth is their kryptonite. Unfortunately, Maryland exposed the vulnerabilities, running around the ones and two on the corners, pushing the defense to the sidelines and then cutting in for quick breakaways.

“Defensively, depth’s an issue for us,” Brown said. “We saw that in pre-season… They [Maryland] snapped 18 more times. They wore us down. In the second half there, we throw a pick on the first play. Then we drop a punt. We have two missed series opportunities. So out of six plays of opportunities, the game swung. We had field position the entire third quarter and just, for whatever reason, didn’t do much with it.”

Chandler-Semedo, who finished with 10 tackles, and redshirt senior Sean Mahone, who finished with 11 tackles, combined to tally West Virginia’s first “two 10-plus tackle” game of the season.

HOW DO THE MOUNTAINEERS MOVE ON FROM THIS?

  • The Mountaineers could have used tight end Mike O’Laughlin, who didn’t play a single snap in this Maryland game. He’s still on the mend from a lower leg injury, and redshirt junior T.J. Banks, who started his first Mountaineer game tonight, filled the gap. There’s no word on how much longer Banks will be getting reps, but that youth is cause for concern in the middle of the field.
  • Neal Brown is now 0-5 in his last five road games. If this Mountaineer team wants any chance of ending 2021 better than .500, playing in unfamiliar scenarios needs to feel exactly the same as having 60,000 cheering Mountaineer fans in the stands of Milan Puskar Stadium. Although that’s more of a mental shift than it is physical, college football away games mean just as much as playing under the lights in Morgantown. For a team as experienced as Brown’s fairly veteran roster is, this 0-5 statistic should plant a seed of doubt in Mountaineer fans regarding whether or not this team can actually beat any of the conference opponents on the road. Unfortunately, fans may be even more disheartened later in the season; the next chance Neal Brown’s team will get to play in a road stadium will happen on Sept. 25 in Norman, Ok. against the Oklahoma Sooners.
  • Distance scoring plays need improvement. Of the scoring plays from today, excluding field goals, Doege’s offense ran in short sprint yardage of two yards and nine yards. The initial Mountaineer pass to Leddie Brown was the only scoring play that came from double-digit distance. Maryland, on the other hand, put up a 66-yard pass, an 18-yard pass, and a 60-yard pass. Those are the long distance plays that make the difference in final scores, and Doege and the West Virginia receivers didn’t close in those long-ball situations.
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