MORGANTOWN — How far did the performance of this year’s West Virginia football team set the game of college football back?
Let’s put it this way, college football was celebrating its 150th anniversary and if this keeps up by the time the Mountaineers put an end to the season, they will be celebrating just the 50th anniversary.
Yes, it has been that bad and Saturday’s performance before 56,573 fans in Mountaineer Field may have been the worst of it.
This wasn’t Oklahoma beating them 38-17. It was a now 4-5 Texas Tech team.
It was a game which they never were competitive in, giving up touchdowns on each of the Red Raiders first FIVE possessions. At the end of the first quarter, quarterback Jett Duffey had 205 passing yards.
Yes, Texas Tech played well, but WVU waited until half time to show up.
“It was a frustrating day all the way around,” said first year head coach Neal Brown in something of the understatement of the year.
“I don’t have any great words of wisdom,” Brown said.
This called for someone who could explain the following:
Total Yards: WVU 549, Texas Tech 481.
First Downs: WVU 25, Texas Tech 22
Passing Yards: WVU 498, Texas Tech 354
Punts: WVU 2, Texas Tech 5
Score: Texas Tech 38, WVU 17
How does that happen?
“We did some good things offensively,” Brown said, “but we do things to beat ourselves over and over again.”
Like? “Drops. How many did we have? Seven? Seven drops.” he said.
“The turnovers — some of the turnovers [there were four of them] happened because we had missed assignments,” Brown said. “And the red zone.”
WVU got there five times. They scored twice.
“We lost by 21 points and left 21 points on the field there,” he said.
Then there were fourth down. WVU went five times and made it once.
In the end, the frustration was such that Brown, on a day when Austin Kendall threw for 355 yards, he was yanked for Jarret Doege, the Bowling Green transfer from Lubbock, Texas, much to the delight of the fans.
“He’s got four games to redshirt,” Brown said. “I just wanted to get Jarret reps. The same things that plagued Jarret are the things that plagued Austin. We dropped the ball. We didn’t do a great job in protection.
“I’ll say this: I wish quarterback was our problem. That’s an easy fix.”
See, here’s the thing, you throw 61 times in a game not because you want to but because you have to.
Why did West Virginia throw the ball 61 times in the game?
To that was two-fold.
1. They were down 21-7 three possessions into the game and 35-10 at the half.
2. [And far more telling] they can’t run the ball. Period.
The Mountaineers rushed 18 times for 51 yards. It was the fifth straight game when they failed to gain 100 rushing yards and the second time in three games they gained 51 yards rushing ... and those two 51-yard games are sandwiched around a 14-yard effort at Baylor.
In nine games, they have surpassed 100 rushing yards twice.
A golf course has more holes than the WVU offensive line has opened this year.
The question isn’t whether they will have a 1,000-yard rusher this year. It’s whether they will rush for 1,000 yards as a team, owning but 682 rushing yards with three games to play.
Brown, though frustrated, promised his fan base it would get better.
After thanking them for their support, for sitting through this one-sided affair and assuring them it had not gone unnoticed, Brown offered the following soliloquy:
“We’re not playing very good football right now. We’ve got a ton of work to do right now. I’ll tell you, this is probably going to be one of our worst days but I’ll tell you, we will build a successful program.
“It might not look like that right now. But because of the fans and for them, we will be successful. We will absolutely be success. There’s growing pains right now and it is what it is.
“Nobody is more frustrated with what’s going on on the football field than me. I promise you that, but we have a high percentage of guys who are going to be back, not just for one year but for two and three years.
“They will significantly get better. We will do a better job of coaching them and the product on the field will match the fans we got.”
Follow Bob Hertzel on Twitter @bhertzel