MORGANTOWN — Let’s just say Neal Brown could have been in a better mood than he was Saturday.
His post-practice press conference, originally scheduled for 5:15, had been moved up to 4 p.m. on Friday. But, by the time he digested what he saw on the field and figured out what he was going to tell Mountaineer nation about what had transpired, it was closer to the old starting time than the new.
His first words were “Good afternoon.”
Don’t think he meant it, though.
“The first scrimmage as a coach is always good and bad,” Brown said. “The good thing is you get a chance to get live work with officials. The bad thing is it’s a wake-up call that you have a lot of work to do, which is expected.”
How did he evaluate what he saw?
“The first defense won soundly over the first offense and the second offense won soundly over the second defense,” he said.
That surprised Brown from what he had seen a day earlier.
“Going back to yesterday, Friday, was probably our worst practice since I’ve been here defensively,” he said. “Offensively, we went up and down the field and there wasn’t much resistance.
“The one defense bounced back today. If you look at it, the sloppiness was attributable to penalties, a lot of procedure penalties which are mental errors. We struggled to run the ball, we had multiple drops and we didn’t throw it very well, we didn’t protect very well and we run it very well.”
At least he could fall back on the second offense to know that some of the coaching is taking hold.
There were some positives and Brown offered them up:
— Defensive lineman Taijh Alston had four sacs.
“He probably had his worst day as a Mountaineer yesterday, so that was encouraging,” Brown said. “He bounced back.”
— Nose guard Darius Stills caught Brown’s eye.
“He was disruptive. I thought he won the battle decisively over Chase Behrndt,” Brown said.
— Cornerback Tae Mayo had an interception that he ran back for a score.
“I like the way he has competed the past few days,” Brown said.
— Wide receivers Sam James, George Campbell and Sean Ryan, the Temple transfer who is yet to be cleared to compete, made plays, but James is really asserting himself with plays downfield.
“He’s a redshirt freshman but he’s not allowed to play like a redshirt freshman,” Brown said. “He’s not allowed to have bad days. My challenge to him is he has to compete at a high level every day. The last 15 years, there’s been a tradition of high-level receivers and he may be the next guy.”
— Once again third quarterback Trey Lowe III had a strong performance.
“Trey does some nice things,” Brown said. “We let him run the ball and he had a long touchdown throw as well. He has a chance to help us, but he’s on a roller coaster right now with a lot of ups and downs.”
Brown wasn’t happy with the quarterback play overall, including Austin Kendall and Jack Allison.
“I didn’t think as a group the quarterbacks performed very well,” Brown said, admitting he doesn’t want to make any harsh judgments until he sees and studies film.
Brown said there’s time to make the necessary corrections, as the scrimmage took place three weeks before the season-opener at home against James Madison.
“What we have to correct is our bad had to be way better,” Brown said, a somewhat puzzling statement until he explained. “You look at really quality football teams, when they don’t play very well they are still good enough to be in games and have a chance to win.
“Right now, with us, where we’re at, our bad is really bad.”
Brown, however, believes he will get it across to his players, once they figure it all out.
“I’m not upset we have troubles on offense, but we have some guys who think they are better than they really are. They think sometimes they don’t need to take coaching. It’s good to be able to say this is the play that’s supposed to be made and show it to them on video,” Brown said.
“I tell them the video will tell your story. Don’t tell me who you think you are. Let’s watch the video and see who you are. It doesn’t really matter what you say or what you think. It’s here on the video screen.
“That video screen some of these think they are ballers — that would be their term, not mine — so we turn it on and see they don’t do what they are supposed to so. They get to thinking maybe we know what we’re talking about sometimes.”
Follow Bob Hertzel on Twitter at @bhertzel.