Football, Sports, WVU Sports

WVU FOOTBALL NOTEBOOK: Offensive third-down efficiency strong against Texas

MORGANTOWN — Momentum appeared to take a big sway in favor of Texas during the third quarter last Saturday at Milan Puskar Stadium.

The Longhorns just pulled within four points at 21-17 on a big pass play, then on WVU’s next offensive possession, quarterback Jarret Doege was sacked on 1st and 2nd downs, putting the Mountaineers in a 3rd and 18.

In a game with many critical plays, it was Doege’s pass to Winston Wright for 19 yards on 3rd and 18 that may have been the biggest. Texas was on he verge of taking over the game, but instead, WVU went on to score a touchdown five plays later to go back up two possessions, eventually ending in a 31-23 win.

Overall, the Mountaineers (5-6, 3-5 Big 12) went 12 of 20 on 3rd down and 1 of 2 on 4th down – thanks in large part to Doege’s 8 of 13 passing on 3rd down.

The week prior, at Kansas State, WVU was just 5 of 14 on 3rd down.

Head coach Neal Brown believes it was a matter of calling plays that fit Doege best, and offensive coordinator Gerad Parker echoed that sentiment.

“It’s making sure you’ve got a good plan for your players as a staff and doing what your quarterback does at the highest level,” Parker said. “At Kansas State, in the game, the fact of the matter is, for a lot of different reasons, we just didn’t make plays at times when we needed to. In this game, we made a lot of plays.

“We were on time with the football, [Doege] was decisive as a decision-maker, our wideouts and pass-catchers attacked the football. We made plays. There’s really nothing more to it.

Lesley responds to rumors

Rumors began to speculate Monday that WVU defensive coordinator Jordan Lesley was one of the favorites to land the recently vacated head coaching job at Troy after Chip Lindsey was fired Sunday.

Lesley, a Troy alum, coached with Brown at Troy from 2016-18, and after Brown left for WVU, Lesley followed and has since been promoted from defensive line coach to coordinator.

Lindsey replaced Brown after Brown was 10 games three straight seasons from 2016-18, but Lindsey went just 15-19 the last three seasons.

Lesley responded to the rumors Tuesday.

“It’s nothing but speculation right now,” he said. “I’m just trying to get through the Kansas game and we’ll move on from there. But it’s nothing more than speculation.”

Cowan questionable

Linebacker VanDarius Cowan did not play against Texas, a week after he was ejected against Kansas State for a targeting foul. Cowan was also injured on the play, but Brown said Cowan’s absence against the Longhorns was not injury related.

The same can be said this week heading into a road game at Kansas.

“I would say that his status is kind of up in the air. It’s just really up to him,” Brown said of Cowan.

Brown also said he hopes to have linebacker Lance Dixon and wide receiver Bryce Ford-Wheaton back from injury against the Jayhawks. Dixon was injured Nov. 6 against Oklahoma State and missed the last two games. Ford-Wheaton got hurt last week against Texas and did not play in the second half.