Spring football wrapped up a couple of weeks ago as the WVU Mountaineers prepared for their upcoming season.
More than 8,000 fans witnessed the Gold side win 39-38 at Milan Puskar Stadium in the Gold-Blue spring contest.
This was only the second spring game to take place in Morgantown in the last four seasons. Last year’s event was canceled because of COVID-19 and the 2018 event because of snow.
While the score is mostly irrelevant in these games, the final in this one truly meant next to nothing. Head coach Neal Brown concluded the afternoon with a battle between the linemen.
When freshman defensive lineman Brayden Dudley broke up a pass attempt to center Noah Drummond on the last play, the game ended.
That wasn’t the only drill that kept the fans intrigued throughout the scrimmage. Brown also had quarterbacks Jarret Doege and Garret Greene participate in a passing exhibition that included WVU basketball’s Miles McBride.
The Mountaineers football season begins on Saturday, Sept. 4, on the road against Maryland. At the moment, West Virginia sportsbooks have set the team’s odds to reach the Big 12 title game at +800.
WVU football spring game takeaways
WVU supporters and backers probably feel more comfortable entering this season because the team knows who’s starting under center.
With Doege back and another quality defense on the other side of the ball, the Mountaineers are capable of making some noise this year.
He showed his consistency from last season in the spring game. Doege completed 10 of 14 passes for 79 yards and a rushing touchdown.
Since the Mountaineers feature several athletic receivers who are great after the catch, Doege doesn’t need to throw deep often.
He connected with receivers Winston Wright and Bryce Ford-Wheaton regularly in 2020. They both return to Morgantown this fall and should present lots of issues for opponents this season.
Each wideout caught two passes in the spring game and combined for 61 yards.
A massive part of the offense is based around the running game. Junior Leddie Brown is back to lead the backfield after producing over 1,200 yards from scrimmage a year ago.
Even though the backs rushed for just 65 yards on 32 attempts in the Gold-Blue scrimmage, it should be noted that most plays ended with basically a two-hand touch.
Coach Brown was impressed with his quarterback’s contributions in the ground attack, too. According to the WV MetroNews, Brown said:
“Jarret was really solid. I was excited that he pulled the ball on the zone read at the goal line and scored. That’s been a point of emphasis.”
Getting Doege more involved in the option plays can add a new element to this offense.
Rushing statistics are skewed for college quarterbacks, since sack yardage counts against their total. That being said, Doege had just 40 rushes last season and can certainly add to his game in that area.
WVU defensive outlook
The WVU defense was a strong part of last year’s squad and should continue to be this season. It ranked 21st overall in total defense in all of college football.
The unit surrendered just 20.5 points per game in its 6-4 campaign last year.
Although they lost some top talent to the NFL, the Mountaineers still have plenty of playmakers on defense.
This was evident for the majority of the spring game and on a few plays in particular.
Cornerback Daryl Porter’s highlight interception off of Greene prevented a touchdown for the Blue side.
Coach Brown was impressed with Porter’s play and discussed his progression. Brown said:
“We need him to come on. He played better toward the end of the spring than he did at the beginning, and the pick he had in the end zone was a special play. The two pass breakups were both very special plays.”
It appears that the freshman from Fort Lauderdale may find himself getting some playing time this fall.
In the difficult Big 12, you need a stout defense to try to limit the explosive spread offenses. Corners who can make plays on the ball are necessary.
The Mountaineers should have some solid options along the defensive front, too. Five different players recorded a sack, even though no quarterbacks were actually taken down.
Both Akheem Mesidor and VanDarius Cowan broke through for the Blue, while Jordan Jefferson, Jared Bartlett and Sean Martin got home for Gold.
There are high hopes around Mesidor after his impressive first season at WVU. He was a force, and his 32 total tackles were good enough for ninth on the roster.
The freshman also led the team in sacks with five.
With Darius Stills gone, Mesidor is set to take over in the middle. Coach Brown talked about his transition in the spring. According to WVNews, he said:
“Akheem Mesidor played more interior. He really became comfortable probably over the last five practices. I think he’s got a really bright future. He can go out and play on the edge as well, but he’s handled the extra weight he put on.”
The sky is the limit for the young lineman, and perhaps his talents can lift the WVU defense to new levels this year.