With their backs against the wall, WVU won a game on the road in a tough place to play. West Virginia had to win and they did.
But what did beating UCF 41-28 show about head coach Neal Brown and his 2023 Mountaineers?
WVU Really Believes in Garrett Greene
No matter the outcome, it’s been clear Garrett Greene gives WVU a chance to win each week. And no game embodied that more than Saturday.
Greene finished the game throwing for 156 yards and running for 55 more. He scored each of his three touchdowns with his legs. And while Greene had a stellar game and did what he had to do to get the win, his overall statistics weren’t as eye popping as other games. But this week, he let the game come to him more than ever before. He didn’t try to do too much as much.
Players Answered the Call from Coaches
West Virginia didn’t just lose two straight after a 4-1 start to the season, they blew two games. WVU squandered leads and made costly mistakes. That forced the Mountaineers into the “must-win” situation they were in during their trip to Orlando. A vacation destination for most people had to be all about business.
The coaching staff talked about being frustrated and believing a lot of what happened against Houston and Oklahoma State shouldn’t ever happen. And the players, most notably the defense, responded.
Especially the Defense
A still banded up defense brought much of the energy that led to the four-game win streak. UCF’s offense was never going to be fully contained, but the defense played well enough for the team to be able to win.
As noted above, Greene played smarter (for the most part), but it wasn’t even just about him offensively. The offense was able to have its best overall game of the season scoring wise because the ground game was back to being where it should be.
When times were getting tough and people were starting to doubt the team again, the players stepped up and delivered. For as much as the coaching staff has been taking blame for the recent blunders, a team playing well and overcoming adversity has to be a credit to the coaches as well.
CJ Donaldson Still Has It
CJ Donaldson showed signs of why many believe he can be an elite back and he had his best day since the Backyard Brawl.
Just when it looked like Justin Johnson could be taking over the role as the lead back, Donaldson’s ran for 121 yards and averaged 7.1 yards per carry. Those are the kind of numbers people were expecting to see from Donaldson this season. This came after he averaged only 3.2, 2.8 and 3.0 yards per touch in the last three games. But on Saturday afternoon in Florida, he ran hard and he ran with tenacity.
I'll aways give credit where it's due after criticizing someone. CJ Donaldson responded well against UCF after several rough games. It's nice he got a touchdown for his work too. https://t.co/db5wXlTw4G
— Mike J. Asti (@MikeAsti11) October 28, 2023
Brown even noted he could tell there was something different about Donaldson at practice all week in comparison to how he was during his slump.
It’s now up to Brown, Greene and the rest of the team to continue the aggressive attitude that led to win number five and try to have it create win number six, seven and counting.
West Virginia will be back at home next Saturday night under the lights against another new Big 12 for in BYU at Milan Puskar Stadium.
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