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WVU-Baylor, the run game and the Mountaineer future

WVU-Baylor, the run game and the Mountaineer future

Last season, WVU defeated Baylor by 58-14.

Keep that in mind as you watch the Thursday night Big 12 football game.

58-14.

West Virginia’s Will Grier threw for 353 yards on just 27 throws. David Sills and Gary Jennings both had over 100 yards receiving. The Mountaineers racked up a school-record, first-half total of 435 yards of total offense.

Keep in mind the margin of victory was 44 points after WVU had 568 yards of total offense. They had 172 rushing yards.

Now consider the upcoming Mountaineers-Bears game.

Heading into the contest, QB Charlie Brewer of Baylor is No. 20 nationally in passing yards per game (266.6), while Austin Kendall of WVU is No. 68 (204.10).

Denzel Mims of Baylor is No. 44 in receiving yards per game (74.1), while T.J. Simmons of WVU is No. 101 (58.4).

A disparity, sure, but OK…

Then look at the NCAA’s rushing leaders.

John Lovett of Baylor is No. 113 nationally, averaging 63.7 yards per game. Almost laughable considering the Bears are now No. 12 in the Associated Press Top 25 poll.

Yet look at the top Mountaineer rusher among the nation’s Top 200. You’ll note he can’t be found.

West Virginia’s rushing attack is ranked No. 125 among FBS schools.

There are only 130 such schools.

The Mountaineers are averaging 88.1 rushing yards a game. Only Washington State, San Jose State, Texas State, Purdue and, last, Akron (at 55.3) are managing less.

WVU is averaging 2.9 yards a carry. It has but 617 yards on the ground. Leddie Brown leads the team in yards per carry average at but 3.6 (among players with more than four carries). Kennedy McKoy leads in rushing yards at 188 – 26.9 a game.

That’s astounding considering the preseason expectations.

From the 2019 Athlon magazine: “The good news for the Mountaineers’ new ‘get-it-done’ offense is they are stacked with quality running backs. (Neal) Brown can go with either senior: versatile Kennedy McKoy or powerful Martell Pettaway. He can go with strong sophomore Leddie Brown. Or he can go with elusive 5-9 redshirt sophomore Alec Sinkfield.”

The article did point out the offensive line had major holes to fill, but retained Colton McKivitiz, Josh Sills and Kelby Wickline.

Sills, though, was injured. The losses of Yodney Cajuste, Trevon Wesco, etc., from the 2018 team have proven more devastating than those of Stills or Jennings.

Yes, you can also point to WVU’s defense – last in scoring and total defense among Big 12 teams – but a poor rush offense doesn’t help get that unit off the field. In sacks by, the Mountaineers are No. 3 in the Big 12 with 18.

So check WVU’s run game this Thursday in Waco. It will be a key.

And if BU does run away with it?

Well, Mountaineer fans can take heart in how quickly Bears coach Matt Rhule turned that program around.

Remember, that serious Baylor scandal was only three years ago. And there were subsequent setbacks.

Neal Brown only has to deal with the mess Dana Holgorsen created and ran from.

Let’s see how fast Brown can turn WVU back around.

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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.

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