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BTP Team WVU Postgame Group Chat aka How Dave Doeren is like Kevin Keatts

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Also aka group therapy through text

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: AUG 31 East Carolina at NC State Photo by William Howard/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

TheRealEssad: I’m going to try and have this be a rant-free zone tonight, as much as possible haha

JEOHankins2: haha sounds good

TheRealEssad: Has everyone cooled off from Saturday?

PirateWolf: Yes and no

Cooled off about the doom and gloom of the remainder of the year... Still pissed at the play calling and inability of the coaching staff to adapt as the game went on.

TheRealEssad: Yeah, I’m with you

I keep reminding myself that before the season we half-expected to lose at WVU. We knew it was going to a tough environment with mostly untested players

And we did not really expect to go undefeated

JEOHankins2: I’m good, only because right as the 2nd Half begin to unfold I immediately became content that the staff now have real problems to work on...and that my daydreaming of a magic season can go out the window

TheRealEssad: So you were off the hook from dreaming of going to the CFP. Cool

PirateWolf: They still killed my dream. Haha

JEOHankins2: hahaha magic season to me meant 9-3 because I was always looking toward 2020 as the year

PirateWolf: 9-3 is still very possible because - holy ACC, Batman!

TheRealEssad: Truly surprising

PirateWolf: The good news is that Doeren has produced mostly consistent teams, which is what the ACC is apparently lacking this year.

TheRealEssad: There have been down years in the conference where State hasn’t been able to capitalize, let’s hope this year is the exception

Let’s keep this high level, rather than spending a lot of time descending into the particulars. We could try and pick up apart all the strategy choices we may or may not have agreed with, but I’d like to start at the beginning.

One of the commenters in the game thread mentioned this, and I am curious of the same thing: This was the team’s third game this season, and all three times it seems the team was without any sense of motivation or urgency to start the game. Why is that?

This is now a troubling trend we have seen year over year

PirateWolf: Doeren is spending too much time with Elliott Avent?

JEOHankins2: I don’t know if I agree that we don’t have a sense of urgency...it feels more so like we have a problem executing whatever the game plan is on offense, and get caught clueless on defense

Which is actually a more troubling trend

TheRealEssad: Yeah, it’s very confusing

We talked about how we saw it early in the ECU game

That feeling

But then they got rolling

PirateWolf: And in the WCU game, too. They moved the ball well on their first drive of that game

TheRealEssad: I’ve spent some time in the last few days thinking about comparisons between Dave Doeren and Kevin Keatts

Stay with me

PirateWolf: Staying... I want to hear this. Haha

JEOHankins2: It’s definitely not in the dress game or concert choices department

TheRealEssad: It’s easy to rant about the players, but I think there’s something to be said for how well the players are to play from the opening tip/kickoff. And I’ve noticed the same from a large portion of KK’s tenure

The coaches have to put the guys in the best position to win, but also have to be realistic when things aren’t going well

We criticize Kevin Keatts for keeping Braxton Beverly in games when he isn’t able to hit the broad side of a barn. I think we can equally wonder what Dave Doeren’s thought process is for keeping McKay in when nothing was working. This is similar to the Bambard situation. Doeren sees these guys make the plays in practice, so he convinces himself if he just keeps them in the game long enough they will start making those plays in the game. But at some point you have to pull the plug.

Thoughts?

PirateWolf: That’s a good perspective

JEOHankins2: That’s a product...I believe...of how strong Keatts and Doeren build relationships with these guys. They’ve built a care and a trust in practice so they don’t want to “give up” on guys at crucial positions. Add that to the standard coach ego and stubbornness...you have folks staying in games perhaps longer than they should

a personal care that is...I’m literally grading papers as we speak, and the students I really want to help, or value, or just enjoy being around...well its honestly harder to give them a C on something then it would be another kid

PirateWolf: I wouldn’t have had an issue with leaving McKay in the game if the game plan on offense had been centered on the running game, but when the play-calling is going to be pass heavy, then McKay is not your guy - at least not at this point in his career

TheRealEssad: Yeah, I can see both of those points. They’re extensions of your kids at that point so you’re rooting for them to succeed

But then an in-game adjustment is needed, shift focus rather than trying to get it all back in the air. The game wasn’t too far out of hand when they just laid it all on the pass

I’m not saying they should bench McKay immediately, but at some point during that game you have to play a different card in your hand

JEOHankins2: See and this is what troubles me a bit...Doeren was not throwing in the towel...he was trying to win the game, we’ll never mention the successful fake punt with Wilson because of the outcome...but Doeren, to his detriment possibly, really believed McKay could get them the win even that late in the 4th

PirateWolf: There was a point (basically the entire 4th quarter) where McKay looked uncomfortable and completely lacking confidence. That was the time to make a change. I mentioned it in the game thread, but it’s like leaving a pitcher in the game who is struggling to throw strikes. It’s not going to build confidence, it’s only going to weaken it.

TheRealEssad: Agreed

PirateWolf: That fake punt was great, by the way

TheRealEssad: Yeah, great call at the right time

But then back to the same stalled offense

PirateWolf: Yeah. Poor play calling made that great fake call useless

JEOHankins2: I agree fully...that was a time to make a change, at the very least you confuse the defense and can spark a bit of a jump

Especially bringing in a left handed QB with very little video on him

PirateWolf: And it’s not like you’re throwing guys out there with weak arms. Hell, put Hockman in there and just have him throw the first one as far as he can over the whole defense on a 4 verts call. That will force the back seven to be honest.

TheRealEssad: Okay so on that note, I am going to ask a very difficult question

Would Doeren have been able to make the “Lawrence for Bryant” or “Tua for Hurts” substitutions?

For me, based on the evidence, I would say no. He is a player’s coach, and his guys like because of that, but it has to work both ways where his trust in them is repaid in performance.

PirateWolf: Not sure about Doeren’s ability to make that call. I’d like to say “yes”, but who knows

JEOHankins2: The only example we saw where Doeren made that move was Notre Dame...and that felt more strategic (smartly I might add) than not...I don’t think Doeren would’ve made that move ultimately as we saw Saban and Dabo do

TheRealEssad: They’re obviously unique situations, of having 5-star talent on the bench

PirateWolf: Just FYI, if Hockman finally gets his shot and performs at a Lawrence level, then everyone’s going to lose their shit over this game in hindsight

TheRealEssad: True that

You mentioned play calling

Much of the fast paced offensive strategy used against ECU seemingly went out the window in the last two games.

The end around, sweep, wheel route

PirateWolf: Yeah. How was Tabari Hines not featured at all last game?

JEOHankins2: Yes, I was disappointed we didn’t see Lesane more, Hines is criminally underused in that game too...and if WVU was taking away the edges, then all the more reason for Knight and Person to get yards between the tackles

TheRealEssad: To have all these options and not use them, it’s confusing, and troubling

PirateWolf: Agreed

TheRealEssad: A lot of people are pointing to the skill position players, but from my perspective a lot of it came down the offensive line. This was an area of concern heading into the season, and it really seemed like they were having a hard time creating consistent time for McKay or running lanes for the backs.

Not every play, but we had a lot of runs get stuffed

PirateWolf: That’s true. A lot more pressure on the QB, too, this game

JEOHankins2: Chicken and Egg a bit, I felt like McKay had some time but waited and waited and waited for option 1 to get open

TheRealEssad: And only looking at option 1

And that sack at the beginning was a killer

Caused the missed FG

Whether that was him or the line

JEOHankins2: that’s the double truth

Set the tone immediately

TheRealEssad: We haven’t talked much about the defense, but here’s my professional opinion:

Ugh, with a side of ugh

That is all

JEOHankins2: hahaha...hard to find any positives on that side for sure

Drake Thomas

And Murch honestly caused that pick with pressure...but there was too little pressure all day

PirateWolf: I’m intrigued to see the snap count this week. Seemed like we played a ton of guys in the front 7

TheRealEssad: Yeah it would be interesting to see

Was our 3-down linemen leading to the lack of pressure?

JEOHankins2: Defensive penalties were killers too...Hart, Morehead, Miller’s

I think this is where our DL, which had come in as one our deeper positions, has to be given an honest look of concern...Harris/Clark have not played, JSW’s injury was more meaningful than we thought, Holden has been hurt, McNeil...who knew Boletepeli was going to miss ...we have talented depth, but no full rotation right now...and that showed against WVU

TheRealEssad: Agreed, and through 3 games we have not seen Savion Jackson, so he’s almost assuredly redshirting

PirateWolf: I thought Savion played against WCU

But still is probably redshirting

TheRealEssad: Just looked at no23sports’ participation report, Jackson did not play

Along with Shyheim Battle and Khalid Martin

PirateWolf: Dang, I thought I saw something where he did... Oh well

Not sure if either of y’all are watching MNF, but this halftime “show” is awful... Geez.

TheRealEssad: Haha, I am not, but I just got some texts about Trevor Simiens leg apparently shattering

JEOHankins2: Hey Simien Mr. “Let The Games Begin” walked off clean

TheRealEssad: Rub some dirt on it

PirateWolf: They gave him some Robitussin and he walk was walking it off after the commercial break

TheRealEssad: That’s literally the only medicine I got as a kid. Cured everything

But it was Food Lion Tussin

PirateWolf: Ain’t nothin wrong with cure-all’s from the Food Kitty

Most of the time they’re found in the beer section, but still

TheRealEssad: Haha, even for 12 year olds, maybe it would have put some hair on my chest

PirateWolf: Little known secret: ForHims is actually just selling Food Lion brand Robitussin.

TheRealEssad: Haha, and making bank! Genius!

JEOHankins2: I am not one to just throw the 3-3-5 out after one game (especially sense it was praised so much after the first two) but our interior guys were recruited for a 4 down lineman game...our edge guys are now covered up more than they expected when they got here...CDD has said the 3-3-5 is not a full switch in scheme but a bit of a necessity too...this defense may need to be able to show different looks until folks get healthy

PirateWolf: To the 3-3-5... I’m not ready to give up on it yet, but I am shocked at how little we have seen 4 line sets thus far

TheRealEssad: I think it’s a great point that the guys we have were recruited to the 4 line set

We’ve had success with edge rushers

JEOHankins2: I think we need the 3-3-5 and 4-2-5 to be interchangeable...to adapt to what the offenses we see are doing, plus Vi Jones gets added to an LB core that will graduate no one...make teams have to prep for both

TheRealEssad: I would love to be that adaptable

PirateWolf: With so many talented LBs, seems more like we should be running a 3-4

TheRealEssad: But I honestly have not seen the evidence from Hux and the staff to show that they’re willing to be

PirateWolf: It’s really just the lack of adjustments, which seems to be consistent complaint of the entire Doeren era

JEOHankins2: I’d like to see a 3-4 or 4-3 against a BC or a GT, especially GT where all their talent is in the run game...even without the Triple Option

TheRealEssad: Yeah, I don’t want to say we’re starting to see the cracks in the Doeren era, I’m trying to stay positive

....but the thoughts are creeping in

PirateWolf: I’m still confident in the direction of the program under him, but I, too, feel the frustration of most State fans at this point: when is the big win going to happen?

Not that a win over 2019 WVU would have been a big win, but it would have at least been a nice P5 win

JEOHankins2: It’s still one game...and a game we’ve lost under TOB, Chuck...a game we’ve lost in basketball under Keatts, Gott, Sid, Sendek...we aren’t elite so we will suffer losses like this. We have a right to demand better...but like you said, we weren’t going undefeated...if we aren’t bowl eligible by time we finish the GT game...then I’ll give myself permission to worry

TheRealEssad: Okay, I’m not on the ledge but I’ll take a few steps back just in case

We predicted an average of 6-8 wins this year anyway, so this was going to happen

If we can get to 7 wins, and include wins vs WF and UNC, then the season is a (relative) success for me

PirateWolf: Yeah. No need to panic or even contemplate a coaching change.

TheRealEssad: Yeah I’m not even close to there

PirateWolf: Good. Haha

TheRealEssad: Just to be clear, I’m just talking about faults

Which hopefully can be learned from

PirateWolf: Yeah... But it (lack of adjustments) is not a new one. Just one we had hoped would start to disappear as time went on

TheRealEssad: Yeah

JEOHankins2: We had two of the best back to back seasons in history...so we want that party to continue...we want to believe our coaches are the right people to do that...they haven’t shown that this season yet...CDD’s faults may just be who he’ll be...so it’s natural for us to look at the watch and wondering when the time’s going to come...the question is what is acceptable this season, the next and I think this debate will rage on because its different for everybody

TheRealEssad: Okay, final thoughts?

PirateWolf: Not really. We’ve covered this one enough. Let’s just all not try to get too high if State heads out and blows the wheels off Ball State. Same thing as here. One game won’t ruin everything or fix everything.

JEOHankins2: For me 7-5 is my floor, 8-4 is about as far up as I’ll go...then it’s on to 2020, where we better be competing for national attention, high ranking s

TheRealEssad: That is the hope

Okay, thanks again y’all, see you next week!

PirateWolf: Thanks, man!

JEOHankins2: Yeah thanks!