Three Thoughts on West Virginia’s 17-6 Win Over Pittsburgh

NCAA Football: Pittsburgh at West Virginia

The West Virginia Mountaineers kicked off their Week 3 matchup on Saturday night in one of college football’s oldest rivalry games against the Pittsburgh Panthers in the Backyard Brawl. The Mountaineers played host to the Panthers in this year’s matchup, adding another chapter to the historic rivalry with this iteration featuring one of the most ground-and-pound-centric attacks in series history. Neal Brown earned his squad their second win of the season 17-6, despite losing his starting quarterback. Here are three thoughts on the game.



It’s no secret that sophomore running back CJ Donaldson was the best player on the field for the Mountaineers on Saturday night, and while he did finish with an impressive stat line in the Week 3 rivalry game, West Virginia should have considered rushing the football even more. Donaldson carried the rock 18 times for 102 yards and a score, but with the massive holes for Donaldson to run through courtesy of the Mountaineers’ offense line absolutely mauling the line of scrimmage, Brown could have force-fed Donaldson more carries in the game.

The Mountaineers faced a tough setback early with the loss of junior quarterback Garrett Greene, and while Nicco Marchiol stepped in and filled the void left behind by the Florida native, the only times that Brown’s offense stalled on drives came when dropping back to pass. The Mountaineers only ran the ball 49 times on Saturday. While it may sound crazy to say it wasn’t enough, there is a real chance that 18 carries could qualify as underuse for Donaldson.



West Virginia’s offense took an early setback with the loss of junior quarterback Garrett Greene, who exited the game early in the first quarter with a leg injury. Greene taken out of Saturday’s matchup on the second drive, and while mid-game reports confirmed that there was no major injury, the Florida native sat out for the remainder of the football game.

Greene tried to give it a go in the second quarter where he could be seen on the sidelines getting treatment for the injury, but with the Mountaineers clinging to a 7-6 lead heading into halftime, Neal Brown elected to give Greene the rest of the night off to avoid any further damage. West Virginia has a tough task next week against Joey McGuire and Texas Tech to start off Big 12 play. While Nicco Marchiol answered the task at hand against Pittsburgh (6/9, 60 yards, one TD), the Red Raiders provide a tougher challenge next week for either quarterback.



This was an incredibly impressive defensive performance for the Mountaineers. Without the WVU defense playing the way it did, Neal Brown and his team would have been starring a loss right in the face. This was some smash mouth defense that held Pitt to a total of 210 yards, while racking up three interceptions, four more pass break ups, five tackles for loss, one sack and two more quarterback hits.

Redshirt freshman linebacker Trey Lathan had his coming out part with a team-best eight tackles and two quarterback hits, while Minnesota transfer Beanie Bishop Jr. had seven tackles and one interception, while Aubrey Burks (second team All-Big 12 in 2022) and veteran Malachi Ruffin added picks on the night.

This unit was lights out and should make the fan base feel good about their chances of staying in games as Big 12 play begins next Saturday.

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