THE NEW VIEW
When shaping my final summation of WVU’s 2019 football season, I went old school.
I researched. I looked at the big picture.
What I found is Neal Brown and staff did a very nice job this past season.
Let’s stop here though — because one could point to many numbers to dispute that.
Like the team’s final NCAA statistics.
On offense, the Mountaineers are No. 53 in pass offense (248.7); No. 35 in completion percentage (.637); No. 90 in team pass efficiency (127.52); No. 118 in total offense (321.9); and, most ghastly, No. 128 (of 130) in rush offense (73.3), ahead of only Washington State and Akron.
On defense, WVU is No. 88 in passing yards allowed (239.9); No. 69 in rush defense (159.4); tied at No. 27 in sacks (2.75); and No. 75 in total defense.
And for those special teams geeks, WVU was No. 42 in net punting (39.19); No. 67 in kickoff return (20.5); No. 41 in punt return defense (6.25); No. 111 in punt return (4.58) and – get ready to cheer, Mountaineer fans – No. 11 in kickoff return defense (17.27).
Not great numbers, especially when you look at the most important stat: winning percentage. There, WVU is tied at No. 81 at .417 with the 5-7 final record. The Mountaineers are tied with teams like TCU, Duke, Nebraska, Colorado and – get this – Troy, Brown’s last coaching stop.
Personally, I thought WVU would finish 6-6, according to my preseason prediction. In the Athlon preseason magazine, the Mountaineers were slotted seventh – where they finished – also with a 6-6 prediction. (Note: I wrote the Athlon preseason story, but did not make the mag’s predictions.)
So why did Brown and company do a “very nice job” this past season?
Because of the insane turnover from the projected two-deep depth chart from the aforementioned Athlon preview.
I compared the two-deep to the Mountaineers’ lineup in their season-ending victory at TCU.
Ready for this? (I’ll you spare you the details.)
Gone or out for extended time from the spring snapshot were Marcus Simms, Tevin Bush, Kwincy Hall, Jacob Buccigrossi, Josh Sills, Jovani Haskins, Jack Allison, Ricky Johns, Martell Pettaway, Taijh Alston, VanDarius Cowan, Josh Chandler, Jordan Adams, Josh Norwood, JoVanni Stewart, Derrek Pitts, Kenny Robinson, Quondarius Qualls and Dreshun Miller. Even kicker Evan Staley had some health issues.
And at season’s end, WVU won at Kansas State and TCU.
So let’s rephrase. Brown and company did a VERY nice job this past season.
I point to the last regular season Sagarin ratings, which takes into account not only results, but schedule strength. There the Mountaineers are No. 53.
Considering the mess Dana Holgorsen left for the next coach and all the attrition, 5-7 is quite an achievement. Could’ve been a lot worse.
Of course, now Brown and company must take the next step: recruiting better players. This past weekend, WVU landed fine in-state defensive end Sean Martin. It was a nice coup.
A Monday afternoon 2020 recruiting class snapshot showed the Mountaineers ranked a high No. 43 (Rivals) and a low of No. 47 (Scout) nationally with 15 commitments. The highest ranked player is across-the-board 4-star running back Lamy Constant.
Also earning 4-star mention, though, are New Jersey offensive lineman Chris Mayo and Florida quarterback Garrett Greene.
The finish to the class is the next aspect to watch.
Apparently, though, Brown is ready for the challenge. After taking time off from Twitter, he emerged Sunday with a “HUGE… Let’s go!!!”
Many within the Mountain State are indeed #TrustingTheClimb.
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Mitch Vingle covered sports in West Virginia for 38 years. Follow Mitch on Twitter at @MitchVingle and be sure to check out the rest of Wheelhouse Creative’s website for your marketing and advertising needs. If interested, call us at 304-905-6005.