Was the Kansas game just an aberration for the West Virginia defense? That is a legitimate question to now ask after the Mountaineers defensive unit created a brick wall of sorts in WVU’s 33-10 win over Virginia Tech.
Not only did the WVU defense only allow 10 points to the Hokies, but Virginia Tech, a program that always tries to establish the run in games, could only mustard 36 in all four quarters. Add 193 yards passing for Grant Wells and Virginia Tech registered just 229 total yards from their offense, a pretty low number for 2022 college football. The
WVU defense has actually now only allowed 10 overall points in its last two games, granted their shutout was over FCS Towson. Besides giving up a kickoff return in the first quarter, Dante Stills and company responded well after a miserable showing the week earlier in the loss to Kansas last Saturday when facing Towson. But that performance was, and should be, expected against an opponent like Towson. Doing it again in Blacksburg in a rivalry game and a rocking atmosphere at Lane Stadium is even more impressive.
Through four games on the season, the only true bad game for the defense is the gut-wrenching loss to Kansas on that rainy night in Morgantown. The defense allowed 49 points and did not seem to have any idea of how to handle quarterback Jason Daniels, who ran for 85 yards in addition to his 219 through the air and 3 touchdown passes. Even in the loss to Pitt, the defense managed 5 sacks on Panthers quarterback Kedon Slovis and made it a difficult game for a quality offense.
It’s often said teams win or lose together, but it was glaringly clear the defense let the offense down in the loss to the Jayhawks, a Big 12 conference loss that could still comeback to haunt this team.
When talking to the media following successfully defending the Black Diamond Trophy, Neal Brown made a point to say how proud he was of his team, in particular the defense, a group he said he expected to be a strength of the team this season. And there is evidence that suggests the defense being that strong aspect of the team like many, including their head coach, thought they would be.
For the devil’s aviate stance, defensive Coodinator Jordan Lesley did tell the media that he expected growing pains this season from a group with several key newcomers, especially in the secondary, which then was compounded by Charles Woods’ injury and his absence since early in the Backyard Brawl. Does that hint that maybe the last two games could also be chalked as more due to the opponents – an FCS team and an average Virginia Tech squad that was also exposed in their Week 1 loss to Old Dominion?
Either way, it’s fair to ask the question if the defense just had a bad night at the office against Kansas when every other game showed plenty of positives. Time will tell which side is correct since the Mountaineers have many tougher games ahead, most notably the next two weeks as conference play kicks into full swing in Austin, Texas and then at home against Baylor a week later.