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Can a Solid FCS Win Boost Momentum Entering WVU Football’s VT Week 3 Action?

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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Last night’s WVU Football win over Long Island University put to rest any discussion over quarterback rotation. The 66-0 showing at Milan Puskar Stadium allowed QB1 Jarret Doege to control the pace out of the gate, but after the first quarter ended in the Mountaineers’ favor 21-0, WVU head coach Neal Brown had other plans for his quarterback depth.

It was no surprise that Doege started. Even against an LIU team that has only been in the FCS since 2019, starting Doege had always been the plan. Brown told the media post-game that redshirt freshman Garrett Greene was anticipating entering the game near the middle of action, but once the Mountaineers put three early scores on the board, it was show time. When the second quarter began and Greene stepped into the pocket, the plays he ran had been carefully scripted. Although not a game where potential WVU errors amounted to much, it was still paramount for Greene to get meaningful, carefully produced snaps.

“I think that anytime you are going to play young players, it’s important for them to know when they are going in the game,” Brown said of Greene’s introduction to Mountaineer Field. “Starting on Monday, we told him the third series, ‘You’re going to go into the game, and this is what you’re going to run.’ Then, in the second series of the game, ‘The second time you go into the game, these are the plays you’re going to run.’

“We practiced only his set of plays all week. The third-down plays and all of those types of things. The intention was to get him into the game early. Depending on how it went, we knew he would get several snaps. I just didn’t know when that was going to come… into the first half or in the middle of the third quarter. I felt really good about him getting a bunch of snaps.”

Greene tallied two rushing touchdowns in the second and third quarters (three-yard and 13-yard runs, respectively), allowing he and senior running back Leddie Brown to combine to become the first Mountaineer duo to score two rushing touchdowns each in a game since Brown and Alec Sinkfield in 2020 against Eastern Kentucky. Although the first two drives were crafted for Greene’s strengths, Brown said that once he saw the redshirt freshman creating his own movement, there were some obvious hiccups.

“The drive that we didn’t get in on fourth and 1 down inside the five, I didn’t think he should have pulled it on the run, but I try not to be too critical of him, because until you watch it on film, you have little better view on it,” Brown said of Greene’s playmaking late in the game. “I thought he did some good things. Was he perfect? Absolutely not, but I thought he did a good job managing the environment. You have to remember, this is really the first time he’s played with people in the stands.”

Doege and Greene combined for 316 yards passing and Doege’s three touchdowns, while Greene charted 107 yards rushing for two touchdowns. The Mountaineer offensive presence strung together 87 plays for 542 yards of total offense in the LIU game. Looking forward to next week’s matchup, Virginia Tech’s offense, through both games, has put up 129 plays for 679 yards of total offense.

The blow-out, shut-out game also allowed WVU players to sub in that had never played a single college snap.

“Almost everybody within our program got a chance to go out there, which gets overlooked some,” Brown said. “I think people sometimes wonder why we play these games. Well, 12 months a year, everybody in our program is working for one opportunity to get out there and play on Mountaineer Field. The walk-on program is really important to us, and in this game, a lot of our walk-ons got the opportunity to get in. We played a lot of people for the first time today.

“That’s a special opportunity. We got a bunch of guys ready. If you look at it, a lot of those young offensive linemen, like (freshman) Wyatt Milum, got a ton of snaps. (Redshirt freshman) Jordan White got a ton of snaps. (Redshirt sophomore) Ja’Quay Hubbard. We got all those running backs in, and they got some carries. (Redshirt sophomore running back) Tony Mathis Jr., back from his injury. (Freshman running back) Justin Johnson (Jr.). Defensively, if you look at the entire second half, we played a secondary with (freshman cornerback) Andrew Wilson-Lamp. We had (freshman safety) Davis Mallinger, (freshman safety) Saint McLeod, and (freshman defensive back) Aubrey Burks. Both of our linebackers got a ton of work. You saw some talent with our young defensive line. That’s why you play these types of games.”

WVU Football moves to 22-0 against FCS opponents, but now has to ride the momentum wave into this Saturday’s Virginia Tech game. As positions solidify, it’s important to focus on the fact that the LIU win was so triumphant because of the caliber of opponent play. WVU’s errors against the Terrapins will likely make themselves apparent once more against a 2-0 Virginia Tech team that had run through the opposition. Wins over no. 10 North Carolina and yesterday’s 35-14 win over Middle Tennessee are cause for concern for a Mountaineer offense. The Hokies’ defense has registered 18 tackles for loss and nine sacks, for a combined 52 opponent yards lost, across those two games. This is a strong, aggressive, defensive front that Brown’s team should be wary of.

“On offense, we were efficient,” Brown said regarding what worked well against Long Island. “We were able to break some tackles, something we hadn’t done. I’m not as fired up about what we did in the run game, especially in the first half. We didn’t want to give Leddie (Brown) a ton of work, but we would have liked to give him more room with some of his carries. That was probably the only disappointing thing offensively. I thought Doege was really efficient.”

Brown mentioned that the team hasn’t started taking notes on expectations for Week 3 yet, but Doege said that he’s already been skimming the film.

“I tried to watch some film on them this week.” he said. “I did try to peek at them early. I don’t really know a whole lot about them, though.”

In Morgantown, the WVU-Virginia Tech game will kick off at noon on Sept. 18. Let the Black Diamond rivalry begin!

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