Chuck Landon Grades the Herd … MU 20, Rice 7
OFFENSE: B – Marshall was very productive during the first half. Quarterback Isaiah Green produced his best performance ever, completing 12 of 13 passes for 229 yards and a touchdown in the first half. Overall, MU piled up 295 yards total offense on 33 plays for two touchdowns and field goal.
But, then, there was the second half. The Herd produced only 96 yards total offense on 32 plays (3.0 yards per attempt). MU was 5-for-9 passing for 40 yards, rushed 23 times for 56 yards and scored only three points. It was a tale of two halves.
DEFENSE: A – The Herd utterly terrorized Rice. MU put Rice’s true freshman starting quarterback out of the game. It limited the over-matched Owls to only 231 yards total offense – 103 yards passing and 128 yards rushing. It allowed Rice to convert only three of 12 third-down situations and shut the Owls out on fourth down, 0-3.
SPECIAL TEAMS: C – Place-kicker Justin Rohrwasser had his first field goal attempt – a 28-yarder – blocked. It was his first miss of the season. Then, in the fourth quarter, punter Robert LeFevre was flagged for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after a punt. Huh?
COACHING: C – Marshall dominated the first half, offensively and defensively, leading 17-7 at the half. So, what happened in the second half? Marshall chose to go conservative and, basically, just sat on its lead. The Herd had only two first downs in the fourth quarter.
0VERALL: B – It was a solid win, but the first half showed it could have been a blowout victory.
Chuck Landon Grades the Mountaineers … Baylor 17, WVU 14
OFFENSE: C – The Mountaineers simply got whipped upfront, although the offensive line did yield only one sack. On the other hand, WVU’s running game produced only 14 yards on 26 attempts. That’s abysmal.
Another problem was two errant snaps. First, Kennedy McKoy lined up as the quarterback in the Wildcat formation only to see the ball sail over his head for a 21-yard loss. Later, the center snapped the ball when quarterback Austin Kendall wasn’t ready and the ball sailed past Kendall for another sizeable loss.
DEFENSE: A+ – It played lights out. Especially the Stills brothers, Darius and Dante. They combined for five of WVU’s eight sacks with Darius getting three and Dante two. Darius Stills also made 10 tackles from his nose tackle position.
Then, there’s the goal line stand. Baylor ran four plays inside the three-yard line and couldn’t get the ball in the end zone. In fact, the Bears had three consecutive running plays for no gain from the one-yard line, finally giving up the ball on downs.
It was epic defense.
SPECIAL TEAMS: A – Meet Winston Wright. The true freshman made his first collegiate kickoff return a moment he will treasure forever. That’s because he returned it practically untouched for a 95-yard touchdown.
Then, there’s Casey Legg. The former Cross Lanes Christian soccer and basketball standout was pressed into duty at place-kicker due to an injury to Evan Staley. And the true freshman produced with the first two extra-point kicks of his career. He also would have had a game-tying 43-yard field goal, if not for an error on the sidelines.
COACHING: A+ – What a performance. All things being equal, WVU didn’t belong on the same field with Baylor. But the coaching differential evened the game. Just look what head coach Neal Brown and his staff did.
WVU was so hyped up defensively, they whipped Baylor upfront to the tune of eight sacks. Offensively, Brown went for it on fourth down three times. How many times was it successful? Three times. Brown also surprised Baylor with running back Kennedy McKoy lining up at quarterback in the Wildcat formation.
WVU’s coaching, more than anything else, kept this game close.
OVERALL: B – A good grade after a loss isn’t just an endangered species, it is extinct. Until now.
Chuck Landon is a sports columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.