West Virginia was in a tough spot heading into this one. They just got blown out in Missouri and had a noon home game against a pretty good ACC team. It was a recipe for a 1-2 non-conference start, but West Virginia didn’t let that happen. The Mountaineers came out flying, slowed down, and then took flight again.
The Mountaineers first drive was almost completely comprised of weird trick plays, and it worked like a charm. Neal Brown must have done his homework on Tony Gibsons WVU tenure because that type of play always burned WVU in the past. The West Virginia defense played well but the Mountaineers found themselves down 21-14 late in the first half. That was until Austin Kendall found George Campbell and WVU head into the half tied at 21. West Virginia then outscored N.C State 23-6 in the second half en route to a three possession win.
The Mountaineers offense looked revamped and the defense got a ton of pressure all day, but the most important sign was the run game. The Mountaineers were actually able to run the ball. The team totaled 179 yards on the ground and that was a huge reason they were able to put up 44 points. All in all, it was a huge win for West Virginia giving them some momentum heading into Big 12 play.
9:06 1st WVU (1st & 10 at N.C State 20) The Mountaineers had a very successful opening drive and were looking to cap it off and get some momentum. Kendall found Sam James on a underneath screen and after breaking a barrage of tackles James took it 20 yards to the house. It was the games opening score and a huge one for West Virginia.
0:34 2nd WVU (2nd & 10 at N.C State 13) West Virginia had a 14-7 lead evaporate and was destined for a half time deficit. That was until Kendall led the Mountaineers down the field and found George Campbell in the back of the end zone to tie things up and send the game into halftime tied at 21.
8:33 3rd N.C State (3rd & 1 at N.C State 30) This came after WVU opened the half with a field goal to retake the lead. N.C State had a very manageable 3rd down but were unable to convert after Reese Donahue stuffed Matt McKay in the backfield. It gave the Mountaineers the ball back and WVU followed up with a touchdown to take a two point lead.
1:31 3rd N.C State (1st & 10 at WVU 21-The whole drive) The Mountaineers 10 point lead fell to 7 and Kendall just threw an interception deep in his own end. N.C State was held to one yard on the three and out forcing them to kick the field goal. This was a huge stop by the Mountaineers and kept N.C State from tying the game.
179 – West Virginia, who couldn’t run the ball for more than two yards a carry in the first two games of the season, burst for 179 yards on the ground Saturday. The offensive line looked much improved and the offense all around was electric.
155 – Sam James, the freshman receiver for the Mountaineers went off for 155 yards on 9 catches. He also added a touchdown. Kendall definitely has made James his target number one so far this season.
27.3 – Matt McKay has had a great start to the season for N.C State, but this game he was anything but great. WVU held him to a 27.3 passer rating as he completed less than 50% of his passes and only 207 yards. The Mountaineers made the first year starter uncomfortable all day.
Freshman making an impact on the offensive line- When both of the Mountaineers starting guards were ruled out, the already struggling offensive line seemed destined for a rough day. It was the opposite. Redshirt freshman Briason Mays and James Gmiter played every snap and played well. Both have made their case for playing time and the reenergized offensive line helped WVU run the ball a lot better.
Neal Brown continues to show off his halftime adjustments – For the third week in a row West Virginia came out improved after halftime. James Madison was a second half comeback. The Mountaineer defense found a way to stop Missouri in the second half last year, and WVU blew out N.C State in the second half this week. Brown definitely can make the good adjustments to win games.
Interesting battle of the Big 12 basement next time out – West Virginia and Kansas have had a very similar past two weeks. Embarrassing losses in week two and big power five blowout wins in week three. These two teams are expected to be the bottom two of the Big 12 but both look energized and ready to prove people wrong. Next weeks showdown looks a lot more interesting than once expected.