Football, Sports, WVU Sports

COLUMN: WVU got back to its winning ways against UCF

In Saturday’s win over UCF, West Virginia looked a lot more like the team that started the year 4-1 than the team that collapsed each of the last two weeks.

“We were really close to being a 6-1 team coming into this game and now, we’re really close to being a 7-1 team,” WVU coach Neal Brown said. “But we’ve been resilient, we’ve been able to bounce back when bad things happen.”

The Mountaineers got back to running the ball, its defense held up late, special teams were solid and the team as a whole avoided making any major mistakes.

“It was big,” quarterback Garrett Greene said. “We haven’t really played a complete game, offense defense and special teams. I feel like we kind of played a complete game (Saturday) other than, on the offensive side, that two-minute drive before the half.”

Greene had been Mr. Everything for the WVU offense each of the last two weeks, racking up 438 and 366 total yards in the previous two games.

He finally got some help Saturday as WVU’s running backs broke out of their lul. CJ Donaldson has his best game in over a month, running for 121 yards and a touchdown. Freshmen Jaheim White had 85 yards on just nine carries and a score of his own.

For his part, Greene still had 211 total yards, 156 passing and 55 rushing, and scored three rushing touchdowns.

WVU’s defense also somewhat rebounded to its early-season form. Despite UCF picking up yards at will, the Mountaineers held the Knights to just 21 points before a garbage-time touchdown boosted it to 28. They also forced four takeaways, something the Mountaineers haven’t done well at all recently.

“During the two games that we dropped, we know we’ve got to take the ball away,” said cornerback Bishop, who snatched two interceptions against the Knights. “We haven’t really been able to create takeaways so we kind of harped on that.”

Brown described the Mountaineers as disciplined, fundamental, tough and physical and all four of those facets showed up Saturday.

WVU was whistled for just four penalties, two coming very late, after committing 13 combined in the last two weeks’ defeats.

For fundamentals, WVU blocked very well, only losing yards on two plays.

“I think that shows up in time of possession because we’re not doing things to hurt ourselves,” Brown said.

WVU out-possessed UCF 36:06 to 23:54. Donaldson entered the game averaging a little more than three yards per carry, but averaged 7.1 on Saturday and had season-long runs of 21 and 32 yards.

For toughness, look no further than the fact that the Mountaineers played as well as they did despite coming off of two major disappointments.

“The group is really resilient and I told them this, we earned this on Tuesday and Wednesday,” Brown said. “When we brought them back on Tuesday morning, they had energy.”

This is the kind of team that WVU needs to be the rest of the season. Not a team that piles up yards and points and plays flashy, but a team that does the little things right and stays out of its own way.

If they can do that, like they did on Saturday, the Mountaineers will win more games down the stretch than not.