West Virginia gets first test vs. E. Kentucky

NCAA Football

The West Virginia Mountaineers will open their season this Saturday when they play host to a nonconference FCS opponent in the Eastern Kentucky Colonels.

The Mountaineers will attempt to improve on offense under second-year head coach Neal Brown. In Brown’s first season on the job, West Virginia averaged just 20.6 points per game, placing the Mountaineers 116th among 130 FBS teams.

Brown selected Jarret Doege as the Mountaineers’ starting quarterback over Austin Kendall, even though Kendall started eight games last season and Doege started only four. Kendall guided West Virginia to a 3-5 record in his eight games as the starter, while Doege was 2-2 in his four starts.

Doege had a better completion percentage than Kendall (65.8-61.5), more yards per pass attempt (6.8-6.5), more touchdown passes per game (1.75-1.5), a lower interception rate per game (0.75-1.25), and a higher passer rating (137.3-122.9).

West Virginia managed to avoid a significant COVID-19 outbreak during the offseason and into summer preparations. Brown addressed the challenges he and other college football programs have had to adjust to this summer.

“It is week-by-week,” Brown said. “The game weeks are different than anything we have experienced in the past. But we are getting into a routine. This will be very helpful for the staff and for the players. For planners, this has been a difficult time. That’s something I have learned and been able to come to grips with during this pandemic.”

Normal practice preparation and spring football were both derailed by the pandemic.

“We probably have more offense and defense installed than we normally would just because we had more OTA-type workouts coming in,” Brown said. “I think there were 12 of them. With a lot of Zoom time, we were able to install offense and defense. What we don’t have as much of is full speed reps, especially since we went with small team practices and we really have only been practicing all together for only two weeks.”

Eastern Kentucky (0-1) opened its season Saturday with a 59-0 loss to Marshall. The Colonels, under first-year head coach Walt Wells, allowed Marshall to gain 627 yards in total offense and score on nearly all of its 11 possessions. The only exceptions were two abbreviated possessions at the end of each half. Marshall was 7 of 10 on third downs and converted two fourth downs. The Thundering Herd never punted.

“It’s unacceptable for us to come out and play that way,” Wells said. “It’s unacceptable for us to come out and coach that way too.”

“When you see a score like that, it is hard to think of anything positive other than we made it here safely and hopefully we get home safely.”

–Field Level Media

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