It’s been a great start to the season for WVU football. Despite having to hurdle a variety of offseason obstacles due to COVID-19, the Mountaineers are winning and have people in Morgantown excited.
Neal Brown’s team is 2-1 through three games, with another potential victory on the horizon this weekend.
WVU takes on Kansas in another Big 12 matchup on Saturday at Milan Puskar Stadium.
While the numbers vary based on which one you’re using, West Virginia sportsbooks have the Mountaineers as massive favorites. They’re laying more than three touchdowns in the point spread.
A 3-1 start to the year would be significant before the schedule becomes much more difficult. The Mountaineers’ last five games won’t be as friendly as the first few.
Regardless, this year’s team is in a good position to succeed because of some spectacular play from a couple of players.
Of course, when a football team’s success is mentioned, the quarterback is the first person who comes to mind. Thankfully for WVU, it appears it’s found its guy.
Junior Jarret Doege is playing well, and it’s clearly having a positive effect on the rest of the team. Although the Mountaineers don’t lean on their passing game like other teams do, Doege has come up big when he’s needed to.
WVU’s rushing attack is part of why Doege isn’t relied upon to do everything offensively. Running back Leddie Brown leads the Mountaineers in rushing with over 300 yards on the ground and four touchdowns.
On defense, linebacker Tony Fields II is carrying a lot of the load. He leads the team in total tackles and is tied for first in interceptions.
Let’s examine the impact each of these players has had thus far and preview WVU’s upcoming tilt with the Jayhawks.
WVU football standouts
If your quarterback isn’t playing well, then it’s almost impossible to win in a competitive conference like the Big 12.
Although Doege probably won’t be considered for the Heisman anytime soon, he’s doing more than enough for the Mountaineers to win games.
Through the first three, Doege has 724 passing yards and five touchdowns. He’s only thrown two interceptions so far.
While these numbers might not jump off the page, Doege’s efficiency does. He’s completed 69 of 104 attempts, which is better than 66%.
When breaking down the leaders in completion percentage in all of college football, Doege is among the best. His 66.3% is good for 16th in the nation.
Even though the junior struggled at times against Baylor, Doege hit on 71% of his throws.
If he’s able to continue his quality play, the Mountaineers could shock some people this season.
Running back Leddie Brown will also have a hand in that. He’s been the team’s bell cow in 2020, responsible for almost half of WVU’s rushing attempts.
Brown is a factor in the passing game, too. He’s fourth on the team in receptions with seven.
In the Mountaineers’ latest game, Brown was the focus of the offense. He totaled 31 touches for 124 yards in the double-overtime win.
While offensive players may get most of the spotlight, WVU’s defense is also deserving. The unit is only surrendering 19.3 points per game, which ranks the Mountaineers 13th for defensive points against.
They’re even better when looking at yards per game. The Mountaineers rank eighth in the country in total defense while giving up an average of just 268 yards.
Tony Fields II is one of the main reasons the defense is so tough. He tallied 10 total tackles, including five of the solo variety and a sack against the Bears.
If the defense can continue limiting opposing offenses, WVU has a chance to finish this year with a very good record.
WVU vs. Kansas preview
The Big 12 is one of the toughest conferences in college football from top to bottom. Unfortunately for Kansas, it has been the exception in recent years.
The Jayhawks are again at the basement of the standings after starting 0-3.
KU won just three games a year ago, and only four games over the two seasons before that. The team entered this campaign with the worst odds to win the conference according to the Mountain State’s online sportsbooks.
The Jayhawks don’t appear to be exceeding these expectations, as they’ve been blown out in their last two games.
They gave up 47 points to Baylor in their second game, then only mustered 193 yards in a 40-point defeat to Oklahoma State.
Since WVU fared much better against both teams, it shouldn’t have too many issues this Saturday.
The Mountaineers defense could improve its overall numbers against an offense that can’t seem to get going. Kansas has only scored 21 points over the last two weeks.
Quarterbacks Miles Kendrick and Jalon Daniels have split the duties under center. The two have similar passing statistics and are both threats to run the ball.
While Kendrick got the majority of the snaps against Oklahoma State, it was Daniels who started at Baylor. It’s unclear how the Jayhawks intend to deploy the two this weekend.
Like WVU, Kansas is hoping to get some production on the ground. It has rushed 121 times this year, compared to just 92 pass attempts.
The combination of Pooka Williams Jr. and Velton Gardner is solid, with both players averaging over 4.4 yards per carry.
There aren’t many easy weeks in a college football schedule, but this is one of them for WVU. According to ESPN’s Football Power Index, the Mountaineers have around a 94% chance of winning.
Odds at WV sportsbooks
Betting on college football is easier than ever in WV. The state now features several great online sports betting options.
Currently, residents can download and wager on the following platforms:
Bettors can use these to place an updated futures bet on the season, or to put action down on individual games.
According to DraftKings, the Mountaineers have the following odds for Saturday’s contest against Kansas:
- WVU -22.5
- Moneyline: -3335
- Kansas +22.5
- Moneyline: +1200
- Over 52 (-108)
- Under 52 (-113)