Welcome to “Second Guess” Tuesday.
It is raining opinions.
n West Virginia University’s biggest weakness in its 27-13 loss at Oklahoma State on Saturday was its offensive line.
Those five guys upfront simply didn’t get the job done all day.
Their inefficiency led to quarterback Jarret Doege getting harassed on such a regular basis that he was sacked five times and hit on another seven to 10 occasions. The junior quarterback isn’t going to survive the season at that rate.
“There were some highs and there were several lows,” said WVU second-year coach Neal Brown on Monday’s weekly Big 12 conference call. “I think the highs were Mike Brown [right guard] and Chase Behrndt [center] played really well. We weren’t good enough at tackle.”
The problem is Brown and Behrndt are both redshirt seniors. The left tackle, right tackle and left guard were all redshirt sophomores.
Besides the sacks, the offensive line’s inconsistency also showed up when a six-play, 33-yard drive stalled late in the third quarter. WVU was forced to settle for a 36-yard field goal because the offensive line wasn’t providing enough surge to allow the Mountaineers’ running attack to hammer the ball into the end zone.
And it happened again in the fourth quarter. This time an 11-play, 57-yard drive sputtered to a stop with 4:40 remaining. That produced a 30-yard chip shot field goal that should have been a rushing touchdown.
Turning touchdowns into field goals is no way to win a game.
The bottom line is the offensive line was a real Achilles Heel in 2019. That’s why WVU’s rushing attack was one of the worst in the NCAA. But it was supposed to be better this year.
Better, at least, than it was against Oklahoma State.
“We’ll look at some ways we can get better there,” said Brown. “A lot of it was not ability, but footwork and not having their eyes where they needed to be. That was the first time they had played in a game with that quality of people, too.
“They’ll get better, but ...”
I can finish that sentence.
It needs to be sooner than later.
n As I was saying a week ago …
An idle Marshall University football program had no chance of remaining in the Associated Press Top 25 poll. That’s why when the newest poll was released on Sunday afternoon, it came as no surprise that the Thundering Herd wasn’t No. 25 anymore despite its 2-0 record.
What’s worse, the odds of Marshall ever being ranked again during the 2020 season became a much bigger long-shot when the Associated Press chose to include schools from the Big Ten and Pac-12 in its most recent rankings.
The Big Ten had Ohio State at No. 6, Penn State at No. 10, Wisconsin at No. 19 and Michigan at No. 23. The Pac-12 countered with Oregon at No. 14.
That means five slots were eliminated from last week’s poll.
Marshall ended up in the “others receiving votes” category, ranking No. 32 with 31 points. Interestingly enough, the Herd ranked one spot higher than Baylor, who plays WVU at noon Saturday in Mountaineer Field at Milan Puskar Stadium in Morgantown.
So, are Marshall’s players disappointed about dropping from the poll despite not playing – or losing – a game?
“It’s not really disappointing to me like that,” said senior cornerback Jaylon McClain-Sapp, “because just the simple fact of our team and our peers around here getting noticed and in the Top 25 is just a good feeling for me.
“ I know we’re probably going to get another chance. So, if we just go out and execute against our next opponent, we’ll probably get another chance. Me, as a player, I’m not too sad about it because I know we’ve got more opportunities to come.”
Senior tight end Garet Morrell echoed McClain-Sapp’s sentiments.
“It’s cool to know we hadn’t been ranked since 2014,” said Morrell, “but at the end of the days it’s rankings. We believe that if we keep winning, which we should, we will be back in the Top 25 at some point.
“But that’s not really where our heads are at right now. We’re focused on winning the next game. That’s what is important to us.”
Those are the correct sentiments. But Marshall returning to the Associated Press Top 25 will be easier said than done. There’s a reason only three Group of Five schools made this week’s poll.
They were No. 11 UCF, No. 15 Cincinnati and No. 25 Memphis. And guess what? They were all from the American Athletic Conference. None of the other four G5 conferences were represented.
Good luck with that uphill battle.