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The Oscillating Blue And Gold Fan
Greetings from The Booth!
The true fan, I guess, is one who watches every single play of a lightning-delayed, 5-hour, 56-17 blowout of FCS opponent (Duquesne). Or, one of what looked to be 200 people in Puskar Stadium, but I’ll get to that in a moment. I wanted to give myself at least a small sample size before I shared my thoughts about the 2023 West Virginia Mountaineers, my beloved Blue and Gold.
Objectively, I guess this edition of the Mounties lies somewhere between the team that got blown out in it’s opener at Penn State and the team that piled up over 600 yards of offense against the Dukes last night in Morgantown. Playing the Nittany Lions in Happy Valley is certainly not the usual opening game against the Sisters of the Poor, and when you looked at the schedule in the preseason, you probably chalked that one up as a “L.”
Conversely, you would certainly have counted week 2 as a “W.” But if you’re WVU, you really can’t win a game like the one against Duquesne. If you win, you were supposed to, and if you don’t win by enough, it feels like a loss. And God forbid you lose (remember Michigan-App State?). The fan base will lose it’s collective mind.
(A quick side road here: last night’s spread was 38.5 and West Virginia won by 39. It’s creepy how the oddsmakers get these things right more often than not. This is why I don’t bet. Sorry FanDuel, you’re not getting my money.)
As for last night, after a slow start and much weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth from the fan boards, the Mounties did what they were supposed to do, and routed the Dukes. What do we take out of this? I’m not sure, except that embattled Head Coach Neal Brown lives to coach one more week. WVU quarterback Garrett Greene looked sharp and ended up with 4 touchdown passes, 3 of those to freshman walk-on Hudson Clement. I menton him because he is a fellow Martinsburg Bulldog, and it was great to see one of our own do well at the D-I level. Hopefully, he will get his scholarship.
Aside from that, WestVirginia played a clean game with few penalties and mistakes, and racked up over 300 yards on the ground. WVU boasts an NFL-quality tight end, which they need to use more, and some exciting young running backs. On the other side of the ball, the front seven looks solid, but the secondary is truly bad. If that doesn’t change, WVU will be torched by Big 12 passing offenses on a weekly basis.
So, at 1-1, the Mountaineers get ready to face Pitt at home in the Backyard Brawl, a game that needs to be won. A loss against the hated Panthers, and the aforementioned fan base will once again rear it’s head and call for Brown to be fired. Spreaking of that “elephant in the room,” it’s widely thought that anything short of an 8-win season, and a decent bowl, and Brown will be gone after this season. In his tenure at West Virginia, Brown has looked like a coach in above his head in terms of recruiting, play-caling, clock management, and general decision-making. Last year’s loss at Pitt is still a fresh wound, and a win this comimg Saturday is a must for Brown.
But the one thing that will get a coach fired more than anything is an empty stadium, which was the case last night. Some of that, we will chalk up to the weather. When disgruntled fans start staying away in droves, athletic administrators pay attention. Football pays the frieght for everything else at a major university, and donors are football fans. Too many more crowds like last night, and Brown’s already-hot seat will go thermonuclear.
But hey, it could be worse. You could be an Alabama fan this morning…
Until the next visit from The Booth…GO EERS!