COLLEGE PARK, Md. – COLLEGE PARK, Md. – WVU’s chances of a season-opening road victory at Maryland were shattered Saturday, as the Mountaineers lost 30-24 to the Terps at College Park.
WVU will attempt to rebound in its next game, which will be against Long Island University on Saturday at Mountaineer Field.
Atmosphere — On a white-out day for the Terrapins at Maryland Stadium, hundreds of Mountaineer supporters took advantage of a rare, drivable away game from the Mountain State. With the exception of a few neutral-site games in recent years – Tennessee at Charlotte in 2018, Virginia Tech at Landover in 2017, and BYU at Landover in 2016 – WVU’s last regular-season road game was at Maryland in 2014. On a beautiful, bright Saturday afternoon, the Pride of West Virginia was also in attendance. Even though the stadium was not quite full (official attendance was 43,811), the matchup between the two long-time rivals provided a pleasant college football atmosphere. A-(excellent)
West Virginia’s offense had some excellent moments, but far too many poor ones. Leddie Brown had a total of 100 yards in the first half alone (53 running and 47 receiving), but just 16 more in the second half. In the closing minutes of the second quarter, the Mountaineers were on a roll, leading 21-17 and searching for more. However, an ill-advised Jarrett Doege pass resulted in an interception, allowing the Terps to mount a late field goal drive of their own, cutting the deficit to 21-20 at halftime.
Doege’s lone significant error in the first half was an interception, but it was a huge one.
He was also intercepted in the second half, but as head coach Neal Brown pointed out, it was more of a fantastic play by the Terps’ Jakorian Bennett than a bad ball by Doege. WVU passed for 280 yards in total, with Doege completing 24 of 40 passes. West Virginia’s greatest offensive issue was its inability to run the ball, as the Mountaineers only gained 48 yards on the ground. WVU had some strong offensive moments, but they were much overshadowed by the negative ones. D-grade
West Virginia’s defense struggled to deal with the Terrapins’ big-play weapons. Receivers Demus Dontay and Rakim Jarrett – who are excellent enough to chew up huge chunks of yardage even when they’re covered,
much less running wide open — accounted for 213 total yards in the first half alone, thanks to blown coverage and missed tackles. In the first half, the Mountaineer defense held strong in the redzone, restricting Maryland to three field goal attempts instead of touchdowns.
Only two of the three possible field goals made it past the uprights, enabling WVU to maintain a razor-thin halftime lead. 21-20. The Mountaineer defense regained its stride in the third quarter, limiting the Terps to three consecutive three-and-outs, but it couldn’t make the stops it needed in the fourth. Maryland racked up 496 total yards of offense (332 passing and 164 rushing). With 133 and 122 yards respectively, Demus and Jarrett both had over 120 receiving yards. West Virginia’s turnovers put the Terrapins’ defense in terrible spots all the time, but the defense also let in far too many huge plays. D+ is the grade.
Special forces – Winston Wright may have made a mistake in the second quarter with a muffed punt that Maryland couldn’t convert into points,
but he more than made up for it with two monster kickoff returns of 96 and 48 yards. Because neither West Virginia’s offense nor defense accomplished enough to win on their own, his huge plays kept the Mountaineers in the game for the longest period.
The remainder of West Virginia’s special teams did an excellent job. A grade of B
Coaching — The Mountaineers were far from flawless in any aspect of their game against Maryland on Saturday,
and the coaches must be blamed as well. In its defeat, WVU recorded just four penalties for 20 yards, which is an outstanding number for a first game. However, although the players are the ones on the field who make the errors, the coaches share part of the blame — definitely not all of it – for the four turnovers. There were also some time management problems, which are typical in season openers, but they don’t help the coaches’ cause. D-grade