Too Many Leaks For WVU To Patch
Did you ever have an old garden hose that you brought out one spring and it just didn’t have much life left in it?
You’d start sprinkling here and a leak would spring up. So you’d go and get some tape, patch it up, turn the water back on and another leak would show itself elsewhere.
More tape, patch it up, turn the water on and a third leak pops up … and another … and another.
So off you go to the hardware store and, sure enough, they’re out of hoses … and, no, they don’t have enough tape to make that old hose worth using.
What do you?
Pray for rain.
And so it goes with Neal Brown and his first West Virginia football team.
It’s like that old garden hose that has seen better days. Some leaks showed in the opener against James Madison, but not like they did on Saturday when Missouri bounced back from a stunning opening loss to Wyoming and pounded the Mountaineers, 38-7.
“What happened today started last week,” Brown allowed after the game. “We got exposed in some areas; some areas I knew we would struggle with this year. JMU exposed them but they weren’t good enough to take advantage of them.”
Brown knew Missouri was good enough, so during the week he took out the tape and tried to make some patches.
It started up front on an offensive line that was shown to be soft against JMU. Brown decided to go back to his original plan of Chase Behrndt at center and Josh Sills at guard, the two having been switched before the first game.
“Chase has picked it up over the past two weeks and Sills is a much better guard than center,” Brown explained of the switch before the game. “Josh has a chance to play at the next level and we have a better chance to run the ball with Josh at the guard position.”
That didn’t exactly work out.
Missouri’s defense handled the offensive line as if it were Play Dough. WVU rushed the ball for just 30 yards and in two games now has only 64 rushing yards.
In all there were 13 negative yard plays, including at one point four runs in a row and a completed pass for minus 1 yard and six negative runs in seven plays. Missouri defenders were in the offensive backfield so much they probably would have been accepted into the huddle.
WVU had eight runs of five or more yards out of 32 attempts — six by Alec Sinkfield, who led WVU in rushing with 27 yards while wide receivers Sam James and Tevin Bush finished next with 15 and 8 yards.
Kennedy McKoy and Martell Pettaway, who seemed primed for big seasons, were held combined to 13 carries for minus 5 yards with a long gain of 3 yards.
The result of the play of the line, which led to an inability to run and keep Austin Kendall under pressure, was just as if you had a leaky hose for an offense with just drip, drip, drip out of the business end.
The result was that Kendall had statistics like you’d expect from a freshman trying to get his feet wet in a run oriented offense, 15-of-25 for 137 yards and a touchdown … but those numbers are skewered by a 46-yard garbage time touchdown throw to George Campbell against a lower level defense.
That there were two interceptions wasn’t surprising considering the pressure and the lack of a running game. Brown was willing to give him a pass on those.
He did decide to run backup Jack Allison into the game but turned into a disastrous series with Allison not only throwing an interception with his second pass but one that was run in for a touchdown.
“The offense was a mess until the fourth quarter,” Brown admitted.
Defensively 38 points scream that something’s wrong, as do 382 total yards, 232 of them on the ground.
Certainly, the defense sprung its own leaks, especially when it came to quarterback Kelly Bryant.
If that name is familiar he started the first four games at Clemson — yes, that Clemson —- before being benched. Unhappy with his treatment he escaped to Missouri the way he escaped the WVU pass rush all day.
“It was like he he had eyes in the back of his head,” said defensive coach Al Pogue.
Bryant’s day ended early when the heat got to him. No, it wasn’t the heat of the WVU pass rush. It was just one of those hot, late summer days in Missouri.
He’d done enough damage by then though, completing 17 of 25 for 150 yards and three touchowns without an interception while using escapability to wind up carrying 10 times, most of them allowing him to wiggle out of traps.
“We had a hard time tackling him,” Brown admitted. “How many times did he break away from us?”
The answer to that was simple:
Too many and, in the end, WVU felt like it had been beaten by a rubber hose.