MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — A comfortable season-opening win for West Virginia and a stressful come-from-behind win for Oklahoma State last Saturday set the stage for what was expected to be a competitive Big 12 opener in Stillwater.
And for 58-plus minutes, West Virginia stayed within shouting distance of one of the premier programs in the Big 12. The shorthanded Cowboys did just enough to improve to 2-0, while the Mountaineers showed why they still have far to climb to find themselves in the top half of the conference.
“We were an undisciplined football team today. That is on myself and it is on the coaches. We talk all the time about WVU not beating WVU,” said head coach Neal Brown.
“We got into this game into an environment that had pressure against a good opponent, and we had some adversity. I don’t think we reacted very well.”
West Virginia was penalized 12 times for 106 yards. Those penalties included a delay of game on the opening play of a possession in the second quarter. The Mountaineers also burned a timeout on the first play of a possession in the third quarter.
“We had twelve penalties, gave them ten points on offense. A fumble, scoop-and-score and then a procedure penalty on 3rd-and-1 that gave them the ball back right before half.”
In the second quarter alone, West Virginia committed 7 penalties for 65 yards. Although Leddie Brown was perhaps the most productive offense player for WVU, he too was a part of the penalty pileup. After a 19-yard run, he spun the ball on the ground, earning an unsportsmanlike conduct flag.
“I was surprised because last year in the Kansas game I did the same thing and it wasn’t a penalty,” Leddie Brown said. “That was a hundred percent on me. After that drive I apologized to my teammates on the sideline.”
“I thought Leddie ran hard,” Neal Brown said. “We can’t have the penalty that he had. That is a selfish penalty. He is a leader on the team. He was a captain for the game. We can’t have the penalty. With that said, the effort and the strain that he plays with is what we need across the board. He played physical and ran the ball hard and broke tackles. I thought he was just this close to breaking a couple more. I thought he competed.”
Brown carried the ball 26 times for 104 yards in his second consecutive 100-yard performance.
The Mountaineers also left three points on the field when a snap was mishandled on a 39-yard field goal attempt in the second quarter.
Winston Wright scored West Virginia’s lone touchdown on a 70-yard connection from Jarret Doege. Outside of that explosive play, WVU averaged just 3.6 yards per play on their other 78 snaps.
“We just have to come ready to work Monday and just get better,” said Wright. “We need to just keep doing what we were doing and make those plays next time.”
West Virginia’s defense was responsible for only twenty points allowed and many teams would sign up for that in any game in Stillwater. On this day however, the Mountaineers suffered their sixth consecutive loss to the Mike Gundy-led Cowboys.
“Give credit where credit is due. They came out and executed better than us,” said WVU senior safety Alonzo Addae. “Obviously I have faith in my guys and know we will turn it around next week for Baylor.”
Statistically, West Virginia’s two most productive players on defense were senior transfers. Addae and Tony Fields each had nine tackles. Fields collected WVU’s lone turnover of the game with an interception in the third quarter.