Boos rained down at Mountaineer Field on Saturday during WVU’s sleep-inducing 17-6 win over woeful Syracuse.
In his post-game comments, Coach Bill Stewart asked WVU fans to not boo the players.
Note to Coach Stewart: Fans weren’t booing the players. They were booing the play calling and the coaches calling the plays, chiefly offensive coordinator Jeff Mullen and Stewart himself.
How do we know this?
Because during the second serious chorus of boos, after another too-short pass on third down, dozens of fans in the south stands stood up, turned around, and looked upward to face the press box—where Mullen sits—and raised their arms in disbelief.
(Much like, by the way, Georgia fans during WVU’s 28-0 first half against the Bulldogs in the 2006 Sugar Bowl.)
Stewart said it wasn’t Mullen’s fault—it was the fault of backup quarterback Jarrett Brown, starting for concussed quarterback Patrick White. Brown, Stewart said, has been given downfield passing plays but was checking down to the third receiver or the short route.
On two of the first three plays, Brown seemed to have no problem throwing downfield. Well, he did have a problem—he overthrew both receivers. But he was throwing downfield and not checking down.
To be fair, the Syracuse game was Brown’s first as a starter in this new offense. WVU should get White back for the Auburn game. The consolation there is that if there’s an offense worse than WVU’s, it’s Auburn’s.
Mullen has never been an offensive coordinator, and that’s clear. It seems he doesn’t know yet how to watch a game as an offensive coordinator, meaning watching how the defense reacts all game and looking for a weakness.
Apparently, the call he made that sprang Noel Devine for the 92-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter was the exact right call to be made after watching the Orange defense all day.
Maybe Stewart and Mullen, brought from Wake Forest, and all his coaches need to do like law professors do to first-years—break them down to build them up.
But right now, it looks like Mullen and Stewart are wrecking what was a glorious WVU offense that scored touchdowns at will, averaging more than 40 points per game. Now, WVU’s per-game scoring average is actually decreasing with each game.
Further, I don’t think enough attention or criticism has been leveled on new offensive line coach Mark Johnson, brought in from Georgia.
Evidently, in the months since the Fiesta Bowl blowout of Oklahoma, Johnson has untaught WVU’s offensive guards how to block. Or has utterly confused them—are we a zone-blocking team or a drop-back passing team or a power-I team, they seem to wonder? At any rate, Johnson appears to be hurting now, rather than helping.
The team now has several days to “go back to the drawing board,” as Stewart seems to say after every game (six games into a season?) and get ready for Auburn—most importantly, to get White’s head clear.