The Smoking Musket

THE SHOTGUN THROWDOWN: Emmitt Matthews cleared to return for West Virginia

THE SHOTGUN THROWDOWN: Emmitt Matthews cleared to return for West Virginia

Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports Good morning! This is the Shotgun Throwdown, your daily West Virginia sports roundup. Welcome, By-Godders, to The Shotgun Throwdown, WVU’s best place for sports links, information, sophomoric humor, and daily distractions. MATTHEWS CLEARED TO PLAY After one year with Washington, Emmitt Matthews Jr. has been officially cleared by the NCAA to… ... Continue Reading
THE SHOTGUN THROWDOWN: Best Virginia prepares for TBT

THE SHOTGUN THROWDOWN: Best Virginia prepares for TBT

Copyright © 2021 The Basketball Tournament. Good morning! This is the Shotgun Throwdown, your daily West Virginia sports roundup. Welcome, By-Godders, to The Shotgun Throwdown, WVU’s best place for sports links, information, sophomoric humor, and daily distractions. BEST VIRGINIA IN TBT Best Virginia is preparing for another shot at $1 million in The Basketball Tournament… ... Continue Reading
THE SHOTGUN THROWDOWN: West Virginia to host Auburn in basketball

THE SHOTGUN THROWDOWN: West Virginia to host Auburn in basketball

Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports Good morning! This is the Shotgun Throwdown, your daily West Virginia sports roundup. Welcome, By-Godders, to The Shotgun Throwdown, WVU’s best place for sports links, information, sophomoric humor, and daily distractions. SEC/BIG 12 BASKETBALL CHALLENGE West Virginia will host Auburn in the SEC/Big 12 Men’s Basketball Challenge this upcoming season. The… ... Continue Reading
West Virginia Unveils Uniforms For Backyard Brawl

West Virginia Unveils Uniforms For Backyard Brawl

June 20, 1863, the Federal Government did something sports casters today still cannot do - recognize West Virginia as an independent entity from Virginia. In celebration of West Virginia Day, and the renewal of one of the best and most historic rivalries in college sports, the West Virginia Mountaineers unveiled a one-time special uniform that… ... Continue Reading
THE SHOTGUN THROWDOWN: Dante Stills named Preseason All-American

THE SHOTGUN THROWDOWN: Dante Stills named Preseason All-American

Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images Good morning! This is the Shotgun Throwdown, your daily West Virginia sports roundup. Welcome, By-Godders, to The Shotgun Throwdown, WVU’s best place for sports links, information, sophomoric humor, and daily distractions. PRESEASON ALL-AMERICAN Preseason college football magazines are hitting the shelves and some of them are talking… ... Continue Reading
THE SHOTGUN THROWDOWN: JT Daniels thinks Morgantown is dope

THE SHOTGUN THROWDOWN: JT Daniels thinks Morgantown is dope

Photo by Steven Limentani/ISI Photos/Getty Images Good morning! This is the Shotgun Throwdown, your daily West Virginia sports roundup. Welcome, By-Godders, to The Shotgun Throwdown, WVU’s best place for sports links, information, sophomoric humor, and daily distractions. MORGANTOWN IS DOPE New West Virginia quarterback JT Daniels has only been in Morgantown for a few weeks… ... Continue Reading
THE SHOTGUN THROWDOWN: Could Alek Manoah be an MLB All-Star?

THE SHOTGUN THROWDOWN: Could Alek Manoah be an MLB All-Star?

Photo by Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images Good morning! This is the Shotgun Throwdown, your daily West Virginia sports roundup. Welcome, By-Godders, to The Shotgun Throwdown, WVU’s best place for sports links, information, sophomoric humor, and daily distractions. COULD MANOAH BE AN MLB ALL-STAR? Former West Virginia pitcher Alek Manoah is continuing to have… ... Continue Reading
THE SHOTGUN THROWDOWN: Two Mountaineers make 2023 College Football Hall of Fame Ballot

THE SHOTGUN THROWDOWN: Two Mountaineers make 2023 College Football Hall of Fame Ballot

Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images Good morning! This is the Shotgun Throwdown, your daily West Virginia sports roundup. Welcome, By-Godders, to The Shotgun Throwdown, WVU’s best place for sports links, information, sophomoric humor, and daily distractions. COLLEGE FOOTBALL HALL OF FAME CANDIDATES West Virginia has two candidates on the 2023 ballot for… ... Continue Reading
THE SHOTGUN THROWDOWN: Major Harris gets a street named after him

THE SHOTGUN THROWDOWN: Major Harris gets a street named after him

Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports Good morning! This is the Shotgun Throwdown, your daily West Virginia sports roundup. Welcome, By-Godders, to The Shotgun Throwdown, WVU’s best place for sports links, information, sophomoric humor, and daily distractions. MAJOR HARRIS STREET West Virginia football legend Major Harris is getting a street named after him. The street connects Elmore… ... Continue Reading
THE SHOTGUN THROWDOWN: Joe Mazzulla advances to the NBA Finals with the Boston Celtics

THE SHOTGUN THROWDOWN: Joe Mazzulla advances to the NBA Finals with the Boston Celtics

Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images Good morning! This is the Shotgun Throwdown, your daily West Virginia sports roundup. Welcome, By-Godders, to The Shotgun Throwdown, WVU’s best place for sports links, information, sophomoric humor, and daily distractions. MAZZULLA AND THE CELTICS Former West Virginia guard Joe Mazzulla and the Boston Celtics are heading… ... Continue Reading
West Virginia Baseball Left Out Of Field of 64

West Virginia Baseball Left Out Of Field of 64

WVU Baseball | Twitter.com A tournament collapse potentially costs the team in the final games The West Virginia Mountaineers baseball season has come to an end after they were not selected in the field of 64 for the College Baseball World Series. The Mountaineers, who set a program record with 14 Big 12 conference wins,… ... Continue Reading
WVU Baseball Loses Twice in Big 12 Tournament, Awaits Fate For Postseason

WVU Baseball Loses Twice in Big 12 Tournament, Awaits Fate For Postseason

Geoff Coyle/WV Illustrated West Virginia hopes its done enough to earn a bid for the field of 64. The West Virginia Mountaineers faltered early in the Big 12 Baseball Tournament and struggled with their pitching in back to back losses which eliminated the Mountaineers. Wednesday evening the Mountaineers (33-21) took on the Oklahoma Sooners (34-20)… ... Continue Reading
THE SHOTGUN THROWDOWN: Why Bob Huggins transferred to West Virginia

THE SHOTGUN THROWDOWN: Why Bob Huggins transferred to West Virginia

Good morning! This is the Shotgun Throwdown, your daily West Virginia sports roundup. Welcome, By-Godders, to The Shotgun Throwdown, WVU’s best place for sports links, information, sophomoric humor, and daily distractions. WHY HUGGINS TRANSFERRED Long before the transfer portal was a common term in college sports, many players were already transferring to find better opportunities,… ... Continue Reading
West Virginia Football Recruiting: Four-star receiver Rodney Gallagher commits to the Mountaineers

West Virginia Football Recruiting: Four-star receiver Rodney Gallagher commits to the Mountaineers

Rodney Gallagher | Twitter @Rodney_G3 LET’S GO! There are recruiting battles and there are recruiting battles. Rodney Gallagher's was the latter. For me, it played out like the famous Vince McMahon reaction meme - wait, there's a 4-star receiver in Uniontown? Man, he sure seems to be visiting a lot? Wait, is that him sitting… ... Continue Reading
THE SHOTGUN THROWDOWN: West Virginia starts Big 12 Championship play

THE SHOTGUN THROWDOWN: West Virginia starts Big 12 Championship play

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports Good morning! This is the Shotgun Throwdown, your daily West Virginia sports roundup. Welcome, By-Godders, to The Shotgun Throwdown, WVU’s best place for sports links, information, sophomoric humor, and daily distractions. CONFERENCE TOURNAMENT After sweeping Kansas State to close out the regular season, the West Virginia baseball team will start the… ... Continue Reading
THE SHOTGUN THROWDOWN: West Virginia to play Xavier in Big East-Big 12 Battle

THE SHOTGUN THROWDOWN: West Virginia to play Xavier in Big East-Big 12 Battle

Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports Good morning! This is the Shotgun Throwdown, your daily West Virginia sports roundup. Welcome, By-Godders, to The Shotgun Throwdown, WVU’s best place for sports links, information, sophomoric humor, and daily distractions. BIG EAST-BIG 12 BATTLE Bob Huggins and the West Virginia men’s basketball team will be traveling to Cincinnati, Ohio, to… ... Continue Reading
THE SHOTGUN THROWDOWN: Bob Huggins continues 2022 transfer portal domination

THE SHOTGUN THROWDOWN: Bob Huggins continues 2022 transfer portal domination

Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports Good morning! This is the Shotgun Throwdown, your daily West Virginia sports roundup. Welcome, By-Godders, to The Shotgun Throwdown, WVU’s best place for sports links, information, sophomoric humor, and daily distractions. HUGGY BEAR FIGHTS BACK After struggling to adjust to the college basketball transfer portal last year, West Virginia head coach… ... Continue Reading
THE SHOTGUN THROWDOWN: West Virginia baseball wins Backyard Brawl series

THE SHOTGUN THROWDOWN: West Virginia baseball wins Backyard Brawl series

Victor Scott | Twitter.com Good morning! This is the Shotgun Throwdown, your daily West Virginia sports roundup. Welcome, By-Godders, to The Shotgun Throwdown, WVU’s best place for sports links, information, sophomoric humor, and daily distractions. BACKYARD BRAWL The West Virginia baseball team defeated Pittsburgh in this season’s final game of the Backyard Brawl series, 9-1.… ... Continue Reading
Kpogba-Dixon 2022 - What's the ceiling for West Virginia's new linebacker tandem?

Kpogba-Dixon 2022 - What's the ceiling for West Virginia's new linebacker tandem?

They've gotten a ton of hype so far this spring, but just how good can the Mountaineers' new dynamic duo to be?

Mountaineer Nation has been lucky to bear witness to some fantastic linebacking over the years. When I was growing up it was guys like Canute Curtis, Barrett Green, Gary Stills, and Grant Wiley. My college years featured guys like Boo McLee, Reed Williams, JT Thomas, and Najee Goode, and more recently we've gotten great play out of guys like Nick Kwiatkowski, Al Benton, Kyzir White, David Long, and Tony Fields. However, with the way offenses are looking to spread you out these days, linebackers have been forced to evolve. Knowing where you need to be and making the play once you get there aren't always enough anymore, because getting to those spots has never been more difficult.

That last bit was our linebackers' biggest problem a year ago - getting to the spots where they needed to be. And to simplify it even further - speed. They were a step off the pace. It didn't always hurt us, which is a testament to their ability to check those first two boxes, but there were also running and throwing lanes that should've been closed down but weren't, which resulted in some seemingly routine plays that turned into disasters.

The good news here is that it shouldn't be an issue this year. This year's group has a different vibe about it. Lee Kpogba, Lance Dixon, Exree Loe, Tirek Austin-Cave, Jacorey Hammet - every single one of them can run and play in space. We obviously need to see it translate to the field this fall, but on paper they're truly our first group in this modern era that is built top to bottom for the modern era. We'll dive into the rest of the rotation sometime later this summer, but for now I want to focus on expectations for our presumed starters.

The aforementioned Kpogba should be our new anchor in the middle, and I can hardly recall being more excited about a dude who's never played a down for us. When Kpogba originally committed to us out of high school he reminded me of a 6'1 Karl Joseph, which is fitting considering he's cited Joseph as an inspiration and is donning his #8 shirt this year. Simply put, when he hits you, you stay hit. According to PFF, Kpogba posted an elite 89.7 tackle grade as a rotation player at Syracuse in 2020 (13th nationally among all defenders with more than 150 defensive snaps), then followed that up last year by leading the #1 scoring defense in JUCO with 84 tackles in 10 games (8.4 per game ranked 18th nationally in JUCO). This is a guy with the athleticism to play sideline-to-sideline in the same way that Tony Fields did two years ago, and when you couple that with the stories trickling out of spring camp about the kind of intensity he brings both on and off the field, you can't help but think the sky's the limit for him. I see no reason why he can't follow in Fields' footsteps and be in the mix for the Defensive Newcomer of the Year in the Big 12.

Partnering Kpogba will be Lance Dixon, a former 4-star recruit now in his second year in Morgantown after transferring from Penn State. Dixon was a bit inconsistent for most of last season while splitting time with Exree Loe, but he turned in an outstanding performance in the bowl game against Minnesota with Loe out injured. According to PFF, his 65.4 season grade is actually the highest of any returning linebacker in the conference who played at least 150 snaps last year (more on this surprising fact in a second), and the hope will be that he can build on that bowl game performance and hit that level more consistently this year.

So what's the ceiling for these two in 2022? How about best tandem in the Big 12? Scoff if you want, but take a quick look around the league while you do. The established linebacker hierarchy has moved on. Gone are Oklahoma State's Malcolm Rodriguez and Devin Harper, who've carried the league banner at the position for the last two years. Gone too are Iowa State's Mike Rose and Jake Hummel, Oklahoma's Nic Bonitto and Brian Asamoah, Baylor's Terrell Bernard, and Texas Tech's Rico Jeffers and Colin Schooler. Every single one of those guys were multiyear starters who received an All-Conference nod last year, and between them they accounted for every single spot on the Big 12's first and second team defense. All of them are gone. I'm sure all of those teams have capable lads waiting in the wings, but fact of the matter is that the title of best in class hasn't been this available since Neal Brown arrived in Morgantown. So what's stopping Kpogba and Dixon from staking their claim?

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THE SHOTGUN THROWDOWN: Jacob Watters named National Player of the Week

THE SHOTGUN THROWDOWN: Jacob Watters named National Player of the Week

NCAA Baseball: Big 12 Conference Baseball Championship
Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

This is the Shotgun Throwdown, your daily West Virginia sports roundup!

Welcome, By-Godders, to The Shotgun Throwdown, WVU’s best place for sports links, information, sophomoric humor, and daily distractions.

NATIONAL HONORS

West Virginia starting pitcher Jacob Watters was named a National Player of the Week by Collegiate Baseball Newspaper after his fantastic performance against #18 Texas. The right-handed junior struck out a career-high 15 batters in the Mountaineers’ first game against the Longhorns in a doubleheader. 15 strikeouts are the most by any WVU pitcher since April of 2019. The Bland County, Virginia, native was also able to hold UT to just four runs and seven hits in 6.1 innings of play. Despite the great effort by Watters, the Mountaineers lost this Big 12 series 1-2.

CONFERENCE HONORS

Watters wasn’t the only West Virginia baseball player to earn an award this week. Redshirt junior Dayne Leonard was named the Big 12 Conference Co-Newcomer of the Week. The transfer infielder hit .400 with two extra-base hits, two runs scored and six RBI in four games last week.

BACKYARD BRAWL

The WVU baseball team hosts Pittsburgh tonight in the final Backyard Brawl game of the season. The Mountaineers and Panthers split their first two games this year. This rivalry game will be streamed on Big 12 Now on ESPN+ at 6:30 p.m. ET.

AROUND THE BIG 12

  • Texas baseball player Ivan Melendez has been named the Big 12 Conference Player of the Week.

AROUND THE NCAA

  • The NCAA Board of Directors has released new NIL guidelines regarding involvement of boosters.

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