Running back Leddie Brown got off to a good start last Saturday vs Oklahoma State, but didn't get much help from the offensive line as the game continued. Brown finished with 104 yards, but could've and should've had a lot more.
The wide receiver play was average at best. The guys on the outside couldn't win one-on-one battles and had a difficult time getting open. It really limited what the Mountaineers could do in the passing game, which really was just going through the guys in the slot. Bryce Ford-Wheaton and Sam James have to play bigger. I think they both know that and moving forward, it will be critical that those two show up.
Finally, success on first and second down was hard to come by. West Virginia continuously found themselves in 3rd and long situations and it put them in a tough spot in terms of 3rd down play calling. To be honest, the play calling on 1st and 2nd down wasn't all that great either. Trying to run to the outside on a very athletic, experienced defense with a guy (Leddie Brown) that likes to go downhill doesn't make much sense. Now you're in 2nd and 12 and the line can't hold up in protection, receivers can't get open and all of a sudden you're in 3rd and 12. West Virginia has to do a much better job of getting in 3rd and manageable situations to give this young offense a chance.
I may be grading a little tough here because ultimately, the defense is what kept West Virginia in the game. With that said, they still allowed 203 rushing yards and were 7/14 on third downs. Much like the offense, the defense has to do a better job on early downs so that they can call more pressure on third down. Third and 4 or 5 is basically a layup for an offense like Oklahoma State whether Spencer Sanders plays or not.
Tackling and fitting gaps are two areas that have to get better. Head coach Neal Brown talked about in his postgame press conference that too many guys were not in position to make a play and it showed. No one expected the tackling to be great through the first two weeks of the season (usually never is), but it's an area that has to see improvement sooner than later.
SPECIAL TEAMS: C
The special teams unit was just OK from what I saw. Coverage was alright, blocking on kick/punt return was decent, but punter Tyler Sumpter didn't hit the ball all that well as he only averaged 39.8 yards per punt (1 inside the 20). The Mountaineers also missed out on three points after a bad hold from walk-on wide receiver Graeson Malashevich. I know Neal Brown can't be happy with where things are on special teams through the first two games of the season.
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