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WVU Football Report Card: Offense Has Done More Than Enough

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WVU Football WR Bryce Ford-Wheaton Celebrates Touchdown

Sometimes it’s not fair to grade an aspect of a team after just a game or two, especially if it’s incorporating a new system. But now that we have seen the West Virginia offense through four games, it’s time to offer letter grades for each key aspect of the group so far.

Here’s the report card for the Mountaineer offense as the team sits at 2-2 (0-1) and prepare to travel to Austin, Texas for a Big 12 matchup with Texas.

Quarterbacks: A

JT Daniels, who has thrown for 956 yards, completed 64.9% of his passes and has 7 touchdowns through 5 games, has been even better than advertised, especially for a player who had to learn a new environment, build chemistry with his new teammates and has been previously derailed by injuries. WVU football fans have even been able to see glimpses of the future, which looks bright, by watching Garrett Greene, Nicco Marchiol and Will Crowder each lead a touchdown drive.

Present, Future of QB Position a Bright Spot for WVU

I could maybe seen an argument for giving this a B due to Daniels throwing a critical pick-6 to lead to the loss in the Backyard Brawl and then an interception that was returned in overtime for Kansas’ win over WVU, but the Brawl pick was a lucky and he’s played more than well enough that those moments shouldn’t have mattered.

Running Game: A

The running game was a point of concern entering the season for two key reasons. Tony Mathis has never been a feature back before and no one, outside of maybe the coaching staff, could have expected CJ Donaldson to put up numbers WVU hasn’t experienced since Steve Slaton. Mathis is averaging 4.7 yards per carry and Donaldson is averaging 6.9 with 6 touchdowns already on the year, including breaking an 82-yarder. As Neal Brown has talked about, Mathis is still the main back and Donaldson can’t get more touches until he’s in better conditioning for the position, a position he never played before this season, but the Mountaineers have developed a really solid duo.

Neal Brown, WVU Staff Knew They Had to Figure Out a Way to Utilize CJ Donaldson

Offensive Line: C

While two of the most important jobs for an offensive line are to keep the quarterback as clean as possible and help establish a running game and this WVU offensive line has done a pretty good job at doing both of those things, this unit struggled the most in the team’s worst loss of the season. The Kansas loss was a bad day for the line, and that loss could still come back to haunt this team since it was to a Big 12 team. Daniels’ quick release can also help any line.

Receivers: B

It’s fair to say Bryce Ford-Wheaton might be the most underrated receiver in the country. He is having one of the better individual season for any receiver after not being put on any watch lists for the position. He’s stepped up his game and production now paired with an elite quarterback like Daniels. The drop in Pittsburgh that turned into a pick six wasn’t good, but is now just a blip on the radar of his season so far. Sam James, Kaden Prather, who has emerged as a favorite target of Daniels, and even Reese Smith have all pitched in and contributed when needed.

I can’t go A with the drops, and they were almost a problem early against Virginia Tech, but the overall production is tough to ignore.

Kaden Prather Emerging as Favorite Target for WVU Offense

Tight Ends: D

The highlight of the WVU tight end room so far has been the fact that Donaldson is still comically officially listed as a tight end. Besides his production that has been as a runner, Mike O’Laughlin has just 5 catches for 66 yards. It’s not as if WVU has needed major statistics from a tight end with so much coming from the receivers, but O’Laughlin could not come up with a wide open ball that would’ve been a touchdown in Blacksburg, and unlike some of his teammates, he was on watch lists this offseason.

Offense Overall: A

How can anyone be mad or blame the WVU offense for all the points it has put up? Football is a team game, yes, but it’s borderline unreasonable to expect much more from the offense, especially learning Graham Harrell’s system.

Now the defense is a different story…

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Mike Asti is an experienced media personality and journalist with a vast résumé and skillset, most notably with TribLIVE Radio, WPXI and 93.7 The Fan. Asti now serves as the Managing Editor of WV Sports Now, manages and serves as the lead host for Pittsburgh Sports Live and contributes to Steelers Now, Pittsburgh Sports Now and Nittany Sports Now. He also contributes to West Virginia's Metro News among other outlets.

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