Non-conference play is officially in the books for the 2017 Mountaineer football team and there’s not much to complain about as we turn the page to Big 12 play.
Now that the “real” games are about to begin, here are some of the things the Mountaineersneed to improve on to compete for a Big XII title.
Let’s first begin with the negatives to get it out of the way.
1. Better defensive line play
Through the first 3 games the Mountaineers have achieved very little penetration up front and have hurried the quarterback even less. The defense has only registered 4 sacks in 3 games and only 1.5 sacks have come from the defensive front.
2. Leader at Corner
Losing Rasul Douglas is definitely showing. The corners have very little game experience together and the miscommunication has been an issue. The corners overall are not playing terrible, but they need to eliminate blown coverages and eliminate the big plays.
3. Special teams still an issue
Stop me if you’ve heard this before. The Mountaineers continue to have shaky special teams play. Place kicker Mike Molina has struggled from long distance, which he did a year ago, and kickoff man Evan Staley has been flagged for kicking out of bounds a few times and has not kicked it in the endzone consistently.
Now the positives.
- Willy G is everything we expected
I think it’s safe to say that new starting quarterback Will Grier has lived up to the hype even if it is only 3 games. The offense is clicking on all cylinders and looks to only be improving. He looks so comfortable back in the pocket and has made an abundance of beautiful throws.
2. Offensive line has impressed
This was no doubt one of the biggest question marks heading into the 2017 season after losing Tyler Orlosky and Adam Pankey to the NFL and the transfer of Marcell Lazard. The young guys have played extremely well as right tackle Colton McKivitz picked up where he left off last year and right guard Josh Sills has filled in nicely as a starter following the injury to Lingafelter. Center Matt Jones has played fairly good as well, filling in the shoes of Orlosky.
3. True freshman developing nicely
You can say that this group of true freshman may be the best there’s been in Morgantown in some years. On the offensive side of the ball, wide receiver Reggie Roberson Jr. has shown flashes of what he is capable of doing and he could be a solid 5th receiver during the final 9 games. Running back/wide receiver Tevin Bush looks fast – I mean really fast. He has seen little action, but you can already tell he will be a fun one to watch over the next 3-4 years. Defensively, Lamonte McDougle has been a pleasant surprise. The defensive tackle has plugged up the run game and is getting great push in the trenches. If he keeps this performance up, he will win the starting job before season’s end. Cornerback Kenny Robinson notched his first start last week against Delaware State and will get his second start this week at Kansas. Tony Gibson is high on Robinson saying he’s “100% confident” putting him in that spot. Another one to keep an eye out for is West Virginia native Derrek Pitts at safety. Expect Pitts to gain more playing time as the season unfolds.
The real season is among us.