3 takeaways from West Virginia football finishing strong in the season finale

Does winning a game that still results in a losing season without a bowl game mean anything for West Virginia? Well, that’s debatable, but what’s not debatable was what was evident about the Mountaineers, both present and future, from the 24-19 win at Oklahoma State.

Nicco Marchiol has real potential

WVU head coach Neal Brown spoke after the game about how he wanted to see what freshman quarterback Nicco Marchiol could do against the Cowboys because he was finally starting to show he could handle it in practice. That means two things — Marchiol wouldn’t have been ready earlier in the season and Brown liked what he was seeing of the young prospect he recently recruited from Arizona.

Marchiol hasn’t exactly set the world on fire by numbers, but he has shown a maturity to know when it’s best to just manage the game and not make mistakes trying to overdo it. He also displayed an ability to use his legs that might excite WVU fans.

It was obviously only half a game and he still has a long way to go, but Marchiol’s performance accomplished what he intended — to inspire optimism about the quarterback position overall.

WVU has 99 problems, but the running game isn’t one

CJ Donaldson once responded to a question about the origins and becoming of a duo with Tony Mathis by saying he doesn’t see them as a duo and any backtrack on the list could do the same if given the opportunity. While that sounded hard to believe and was just someone trying to be a good teammate at the time, it turned out to be true. On Saturday, it was Jaylen Anderson who led West Virginia’s offense on the ground. Anderson rushed for 155 yards, thanks largely to two explosive touchdown rushes of 57 and 54 yards.

Watch: WVU RB Jaylen Anderson bursts for two big touchdown runs

Anderson became the fourth Mountaineer to rush for 100 yards in a game during the 2022 season, along with Mathis, Donaldson and quarterback Garrett Greene. His great rushing performance also gave the team well over 200 rushing yards in the game, which is a benchmark the team achieved in each of their five wins. While this didn’t result in enough success for the team as a whole, it’s safe to say that the WVU running backs answered any concerns about replacing Leddie Brown that year. Their success also helped prove offensive coordinator Graham Harrell’s argument that “air attack” doesn’t suit him and he uses a more balanced attack when it works.

Climbers responded to the call to finish strong

WVU played well and hard in a game where nothing was at stake but pride. Any coach would have tried to get the “Play for Pride” message across before a meaningless game, but the Mountaineers actually listened. That doesn’t make up for the entire season, or even all four seasons, as head coach for Brown, but it speaks to the respect the group has for him and even for themselves. This was especially true for the defense, which all season pulled together one of their better efforts as season-ending street outsiders.

Watch: WVU HC Neal Brown on the importance of ending the season by beating Oklahoma State

An overall 5-7 season is not something to be proud of and not something Mountaineer Nation will ever accept, but at least a good win made for better spirits than another bad day and an eighth loss.

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