The loss to Texas Saturday was a roller coaster to say the least. It looked like WVU was going to take control early on a rainy day, then Quarterback Will Grier goes down with a nasty finger injury, that many would like to forget they saw.
Texas capitalized on Will Grier’s absence, and the fact that WVU could not rally behind backup Chris Chugunov. Texas got out to a 14-0 lead, then a bolt of energy hit Mountaineer Field. Freshman Corner Kenny Robinson returned a 94-yard interception for a touchdown. The game was 14-7, it seemed like Defensive Coordinator Tony Gibson and his D.A.W.G.S were going to do it again, but that was it, and nothing more. Texas was able to put together a long scoring drive after two forgetful offensive drives from WVU to make it 21-7 Texas.
Let’s be honest. It becomes difficult to constantly bail out your offense possession after possession, especially when your offense is not helping you in the field position battle. Despite Texas posting 420 yards of total offense, it was not the defenses worst performance of the season. Actually, in a sense it was quite positive.
Saturday was Senior Day. The last time guys like Linebacker Al-Rasheed Benton and Safety Kyzir White would lead the D.A.W.G.S at Milan Puskar Stadium. That is huge. Losing your leading tackler is not new for Gibson, but as much as we have heard coaches talk about how smart and how talented Benton is, that looks to be a glaring hole for WVU in the future. Kyzir White is also a physical and mental asset you cannot replace overnight. White and Benton had 10 tackles each in their last games at home. Despite the loss, that is the way you go out. Leading both teams in tackles. Making your presence felt.
Yes, the Mountaineers still have a date with the Oklahoma Sooners set for next weekend, and since WVU is bowl eligible that looks to be two more games left in the season for the Mountaineers. Take it for what you will, but the last two games are an opportunity for guys to get better.
Freshmen like Kenny Robinson, DL Lamonte McDougle, and LB Dylan Tonkery all have started and played significant roles for WVU throughout the season. And it is fair to say Sophomores like DL Adam Shuler II, DL Reese Donahue, LB David Long Jr., and CB Hakeem Bailey are solidified and ready to play every weekend, as they have started multiple games as well. This is Positive, guys with experience. That is what you want.
That alone is seven guys who will be ready in the future to lead WVU, and LB Benton is confident as well.
“That is something a guy like me thinks about, as I’m coming down to my final games. Who is going to be able to step up?…Guys like Zeke[Ezekiel Rose] have been coming along all season. Kenny! Kenny, is probably the biggest one for me. The kid makes plays, he changes games. I cannot wait to see what he is like with another offseason under his belt.”
Junior DL Ezekiel Rose has been able to step up and become a vital asset for the WVU defense as well. Rose had a key sack during the Iowa State game, and an interception against Kansas State. Hate to backtrack, but Benton said something with so much confidence it was definitely noteworthy.
“McDougle. There maybe only one or two Centers out of the ten or eleven games we’ve played that can block him man-to-man. Him getting another offseason under his belt and understanding what he needs to do for this defense will be great. We have a lot of great players.” Benton Concluded.
Those are bold statements from a proven player. With the Mountaineers headed to Oklahoma for their final regular season game of the year, it would be great to see young players step up and make noise in the last game of the season.