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Three Takeaways from WVU’s win over James Madison



Photo by Jonathan Stanley

The 2019 football season has finally arrived with the first weekend in the books as West Virginia edged out a 20-13 win over the Dukes of James Madison. It was not pretty for much of the game, but the adjustments made at the half were the difference in this one.

Each Sunday, we will do a weekly article on the three biggest takeways from each game.

So, with that being said, let’s get to it.

#1 Run blocking needs improvement

Photo by Jonathan Stanley

There’s no question about it, the Mountaineers have a very deep and crowded backfield with four guys that are very capable of making big plays. However, on Saturday the run game was nearly non-exinsistant as the team’s leading rusher was Martell Pettaway who finished with 20 yards on 9 carries. James Madison loaded the box on several occasions, keying in on the run, which was a factor in the run struggles, but the line did not get much push up front.

If the Mountaineers want to be successful in 2019, a lot of that hinges on the success on the running backs. Many run plays were blown up immediately and the backs had no where to go. You can credit James Madison for a lot of that though. They are an extremely talented group, but what is concerning is that they’re undersized and had a fair amount of success in the trenches.

#2 Kendall kept his composure

Photo by Jonathan Stanley


Although it wasn’t all sunshines and rainbows, Kendall did have a solid outing. He finished the game completing 27 of 42 passes, throwing for 260 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. The offensive line did not really help him out much and it seemed like he was be flushed out of the pocket on numerous occasions or was forced to go through his progressions quicker than he would have liked.

He missed on a couple of deep balls and I mean just barely missed on them. He threw it a tad too far to Bryce Wheaton twice and Sam James up the sidelines on another play. All of that has to do with timing and that will come. It’s not something to be overly worried about. For the most part, the timing seemed pretty good for it being week one. He may not post Will Grier-like numbers right away, but he has a chance to be really good in this offense, especially once the run game comes along.

#3 Defending the QB read option still a problem

Photo by Jonathan Stanley

Over the last few years, the Mountaineers have had a hell of a time trying to contain the quarterback run game and read option. The 3-3-5 scheme often times put them in a bad position to keep those type of plays to a short gain. With the new scheme, I expect this to improve, but came away a little surprised how successful the Dukes were with the read option and quarterback run.

You have to keep in mind that the majority of this defense is accustomed to playing in the 3-3-5 and although they’ve been working in a completely different system for almost nine months, it will take a few games before they find their groove and figure things out. Once linebacker VanDarius Cowan comes back from suspension, expect the defense to sure up some things and not get burned on the read options as often.

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