We have a full slate of Big 12 action ahead of us this weekend but first we had to make a stop in Blacksburg, Virginia as West Virginia took on Virginia Tech on Thursday night.
This isn’t just your typical Thursday night game either. These two schools are rivals who don’t particularly care for one another. And the best part of all this? They play for the black diamond trophy.
Last season West Virginia won 27-21 in Morgantown and got the trophy back. Now with their backs against the wall going into this game with a 1-2 record, the Mountaineers needed a big win on the road, and they got one. Plus, they got to keep the trophy too. Here are my four thoughts on West Virginia’s big win over Virginia Tech.
1. How about that Defense?
Just two weeks ago against Kansas, West Virginia’s defense had a tough time getting off the field and stopping the Jayhawks offense. On Thursday night against Virginia Tech, they got back on track as they absolutely shutdown the Hokies offense. The defense allowed just 228 total yards and held Virginia Tech to go 2/10 on third down and 0/2 on fourth down. What really impressed me was the run defense. Virginia Tech attempted to run the ball 18 times and gained just 35 yards. They also had a huge pick six to help ice the game in the fourth quarter. Give defensive coordinator Jordan Lesley some credit because his defense was ready to play in this one and it is not easy to hold an offense to just ten points in today’s game.
2. The Run Game Was Dominate
I thought West Virginia was going to have to throw the ball quite a bit against Virginia Tech’s defense but that wasn’t the case. The Mountaineers had a ton of success on the ground as they racked up 218 yards on the evening. True freshman CJ Donaldson once again led the team with 106 yards rushing and Justin Johnson Jr. also had a solid performance as well. As good as they were, the offensive line deserves a shoutout because they opened up holes all night for these running backs.
3. West Virginia Could have Won by a Lot More
The scoreboard may not show it, but this was actually a close game up until the fourth quarter. West Virginia had a ton of missed opportunities in this game that prevented them from pulling away much earlier. The first half was extremely frustrating to watch as the offense failed to punch it in the end zone in two red zone trips. They also had a fumble on a drive where they were marching right down the field to score again. West Virginia ended up stalling out once more in the red zone in the second half, but they were able to actually punch it in the end zone a few times as they started to pull away. They are fortunate that these missed opportunities didn’t cost them the game because it may have against a better opponent.
4. Could This Be the Turning Point for West Virginia?
Coming into the season, Neal Brown was under some pressure going into year four as the head coach in Morgantown. He had a losing record overall and in conference play but there was a lot of like about this year’s team with JT Daniels now at quarterback. However, things started a little rocky with losses to Pittsburgh and Kansas to start the season. Last weekend, West Virginia took care of Towson and now they got a big 23-point win over Virginia Tech on the road. I know the schedule doesn’t get any easier from here but maybe this is the spark that this team needed to get back on track.