I hear it all the time, “Who has the best conference in college football?” SEC? Big 10? ACC? What about the Pac-12? Very rarely are you going to hear the words “Big 12” coming out of someone’s mouth in that conversation. Whether you do it or not, there are plenty of folks out there who love to bash the Big 12 conference (cough, Paul Finebaum, cough).
It was a rather dull weekend in the Big 12 as there was just one game this weekend between Kansas and West Virginia. And with just this one game, there was still plenty to take away from Morgantown on Saturday as West Virginia beat Kansas 38-17.
The West Virginia Defense
Keep in mind that seven of Kansas seventeen points came from a kickoff return so that means the defense only gave up ten points on Saturday. And even with that, Kansas got the football in Mountaineer territory both times to start when they scored. This defense held the Kansas Jayhawks to 157 yards and forced the KU to go 2 for 13 on third down. Of course, the five sacks on the day helped as well. Overall, it was a good performance by this defense that continues to impress me.
The West Virginia Rushing Attack
Remember how bad the run game was last year for this team? Well, it appears that those rushing woes are gone as the West Virginia Mountaineers have done a nice job of running the football this season and that continued Saturday. Leddie Brown led the way with 195 yards on the ground and had one rushing and receiving touchdown on the day. The offense as a whole ran for 226 yards and even without the 87-yard run by Brown, I thought the Mountaineers ran the ball well in the second half. And it was great to see fans in the stadium to cheer in Brown and the rushing game.
The West Virginia Passing Game/Mistakes
I was not overly impressed with the offense in the first half. Quarterback Jarret Doege never settled down and was a little off on some of his throws. In the first half, Doege completed less than 50% of his passes despite throwing two touchdown passes. But it was not all his fault because there were at least four drops in the first half alone that should have been caught. And Sam James dropped three of those alone. Between the dropped passes and crucial penalties that backed up the offense, the first half especially the first quarter was a bit of a mess. But I will say, the offense did pick it up in the second half after Jarret Doege settled down a bit.
The Kansas Defense
I will be honest; I did not think the defense played poorly at all in the first. I thought they were fantastic in the first quarter and I saw some good effort. But after that, I think the defense got gassed because after the first quarter, the offense for Kansas was nonexistent and left the defense on the field for far too long. Yes, giving up 544 yards and 38 points is not ideal, but I cannot just put that all on the defense.
The Kansas Offense
Normally, I would not be so harsh since Kansas did put up ten points in the first quarter which by the way was the first time that has happened in a road game for the Jayhawks since 2008. However, the offense was only able to put up one touchdown as the other touchdown came from a Pooka Williams Jr. kickoff return in the fourth quarter. Kansas was able to capitalize twice in the first quarter due to great field position, but I must say, it was quite lucky. Miles Kendrick threw a passed that should have been intercepted but instead was tipped in the air and caught by Andrew Parchment for a score.
Outside of that first quarter, the offense was lackluster to say the least. At halftime, Kansas racked up 140 yards of offense and when the game ended, they had a total of just 157 yards on offense. Which in case you are not a math genius means that the offense put up a whopping 17 yards of offense in the final two quarters.
The lack of a run game in this offense is concerning but the lack of any type of a passing game is perhaps more concerning. Miles Kendrick can make a few plays with his feet, but his accuracy and decision making is not anywhere close to where it needs to be. After attempting 15 passes in the first half, he ended up with two bad interceptions that were not even close to being a completion. Of course, it should have been three picks in the first half if not for the crazy tipped pass caught for a touchdown. And in the second half, he threw just eight more times. I understand the offensive line has some work to do, but quarterback play continues to be a problem for Kansas.
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