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WVU Coaches Praise CJ Donaldson for Brawl Performance, Emphasize Need to be Smarter



WVU Football RB CJ Donaldson

Would West Virginia have been able to beat Pitt without the heroics of CJ Donaldson? The WVU coaching staff sure doesn’t seem to think so.

Much of the focus of Monday’s weekly press conferences were about Donaldson and his big game in the Backyard Brawl on Saturday night. Donaldson ran for 102 yards on 18 carries and scored a touchdown.

“I thought he ran it the best he has in career,” Brown said about his star sophomore running back. While his numbers were certainly good, he’s had bigger performances in the past. But what Donaldson meant to WVU can’t just be measured in statistics.

Donaldson was the driving force for the Mountaineers offensively, averaging 5.7 yarder per touch. Once Garrett Greene left the game and Nicco Marchiol was under center, it was clear Donaldson would have to have a big game for WVU to do enough to win. He did and Pitt, just like a season ago, couldn’t stop him.

For as much as Donaldson helped lead West Virginia to victory, no one would be talking about how many yards he ran for if he ended up being responsible for a moment that could’ve ruined the special night. After his touchdown, Donaldson, so taken over with emotion, took his helmet off and started yelling in celebration. This resulted in a 15-yard penalty that set Pitt up with solid field position. Fortunately for Donaldson, Pitt quarterback Phil Jurkovec let him off the hook and threw a costly interception for the Panthers a couple plays later.

WVU Football Nicco Marchiol, CJ Donaldson, Devin Carter CJ helmet off

Kelsie LeRose/WVSN


WVU offensive coordinator Chad Scott was asked what he said to Donaldson about the penalty. “I can’t tell ya the things I actually said to him, but he understands. He knew he made a mistake before I even got to him. He took ownership, but he obviously can’t do that,” said Scott with conviction.

Brown referred to it as “ridiculous” and “dumb” immediately following the game. So for as much praise Donaldson is receiving, he’s also lucky he didn’t end up a scapegoat for a loss and branded with a moment that would be tough to live down no matter how much he produced.

That didn’t happen though. What happened was West Virginia secured the program’s first win over Pitt since 2011 and the Mountaineers are able to move into conference play with confidence and a winning record.

Above all else, it turns out all the offseason talk about Donaldson being in better shape and being ready to take his game to another level this season was right on the money.

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