As the clock turned midnight last night and we wake up on a Sunday morning, the second half of West Virginia’s football season has begun. The coaches and players are now mentally preparing for TCU and they have six games ahead of them to rectify this season. There are six games left to decide how the rest of 2021 will be and potentially how 2022 will be. Now is the time to fix this program and get back on the right track.
Second Half Schedule
Here are the remaining opponents on the schedule:
@ TCU Horned Frogs (3-3)
vs Iowa St. Cyclones (4-2)
vs Oklahoma State Cowboys (6-0)
@ Kansas State Wildcats (3-3)
vs Texas Longhorns (4-3)
@ Kansas Jayhawks (1-5)
Those six teams are 21-16 currently and according to ESPN, the only game West Virginia is favored in is the Jayhawks game at the end of the season. Currently sitting at 2-4, the bleak reality is that 3-9 is on the table here. And 3-9 is not where anyone thought we would be at the end of the year. While the outlook is bleak, the Mountaineers are still capable of stealing a couple of wins. Their toughest games are at home and they could very easily win all three road games. What this coaching staff does on the second half of the season will shape the coming offseason and where this program goes in 2022.
I would, at this juncture, change quarterbacks. My colleague Jordan wrote a very good piece about what Greene brings to the table.
If you are going to make a quarterback change, the bye week is the perfect time to do it. Based on the comments from Neal Brown however, I don’t think one is coming.
He’s got to do what he’s coached to do in the pass game. I’m all for the freelance, but he needs to go from 1 to 2 before he takes off and runs, and on Saturday, he just took a drop and then ran. The struggle with him is the receiver group is by far and away the most productive group on offense right now. He’s got to be able to utilize them. There are some things we can do with him in the run game, but they’re open when he’s playing, and he’s got to be able to find them and give them the ball, because it’s like I said: That’s the most productive position group right now.
That is what Brown said at his Tuesday press conference about Garret Greene. That doesn’t sound like a coach who is trying to find a way to get his QB2 a chance to play. That sounds like a coach who is being critical of the player. I try not to get into conspiracy theories and I don’t think Brown would ever actively choose to play a lesser player over a better player longterm. He might sit a player to get a message across but he’s not going to jeopardize his career because of loyalty to a player. That said, I do think the reasons given to not play Greene don’t match the eye test. Greene is productive and we can’t continue to play football knowing the current QB is incapable of escaping, incapable of avoiding sacks and incapable of making difficult throws unless the pocket is clean.
My bigger concern is that Brown won’t make a chance until its too late. I suspect that Brown will stick with Doege until the team is out of bowl contention. At that point, the fans will be lost and the locker room may be as well.
If the Mountaineers finish below .500 this year it will be a very bad sign for the head coach. West Virginia has not had consecutive losing seasons since 1976-1979 aka the Frank Cignetti years. Don Nehlen did not have a losing season until 1986 and then he finished with 4 losing seasons in 21 years as our head coach. Rich Rodriguez had 1 in 6 years. Bill Stewart had no losing seasons in 3 years as head coach. Dana Holgorsen had one losing season in eight years. From 2002-2018 the Mountaineers made 16 bowls in 17 years.
Neal Brown is currently closer to the Frank Cignetti regime than he is the history of this program over the past 40 years. From 1980-2018, the Mountaineers won 298 games, lost 172 games and tied three. That is a .633 winning percentage. That’s 37 points better than our career. Just to get to that point, Neal would need to go 9-1.