MORGANTOWN — West Virginia football coach Neal Brown spent a good part of his time after he replaced Dana Holgorsen looking for the proverbial light at the end of the one lane tunnel into which he was heading.

What he didn’t know was that light was actually a speeding truck coming at him — just like the linemen and linebackers have been speeding at his quarterbacks and ball carriers this year.

Brown said he expected things would not go smoothly before the season began, and he also predicted things won’t go smoothly from here on in, either. However, he certainly didn’t imagine what lay ahead, that being the worst-performing rushing team in the nation just two weeks into the season.

“I’ve known since probably our first winter workout that we have some deficiencies on our football roster,” Brown said, speaking candidly about the situation he now faces after Saturday’s 38-7 embarrassment at Missouri.

“I’ve known we would have some challenges in Year 1. I think I’ve spoken pretty openly about those challenges,” he said.

What he didn’t know was the depths of the deficiencies. What he didn’t know was that he well might be in charge of one of the two bottom teams in the Big 12, a rather daunting thing to ponder as a first-year coach.

The fact he saw it coming is what keeps him from being discouraged despite being overrun with disappointment.

“I think you are discouraged only if you are blindsided by something or not seeing effort or things like that. That’s not where we’re at,” he said. ‘We struggled on Saturday. I think we will play better moving forward. It’s not going to be a smooth road the whole year, though.

“I’m disappointed in our performance. We can play better, but I’m not discouraged about the direction we’re going and where we’re going to take this program.”

When the short-term prognosis is bad, you have to look past it and focus on the long-term. You take your medicine at the moment in hopes of feeling better in the future, of making the present tolerable and the future something not to fear but to embrace.

“We have to get better,” Brown said. “We’ve got to develop the guys who are here. We have to find ways to put them in positions where they are successful. We have to do a great job of recruiting.”

Changes are on the horizon, if only he can find players who are ready to challenge for playing time.

“The definition of insanity is to keep doing things the same over and over and expecting to obtain different results,” Brown said. “We need to give other guys opportunities, in practice at least. They need to prove they are ready for opportunities in a game. As far as that goes, we’ll make those decisions today and I’ll speak on those tomorrow.”

That would be Tuesday when he holds his weekly press briefing. It is then, too, that he will reveal the diagnosis and treatment for defensive end Taijh Alston who suffered what appeared to be a serious knee injury on Saturday. This was a devastating development from someone who suffered a knee injury in 2017.

While Brown meets for the first time with his players today since the Missouri game, Alston meets with his doctors. On the good side, Alston’s fix may be easier than Brown’s.

The offense has been a disaster: two touchdowns in two games; a nationally worst 1.4 yards per carry; and an offensive line that has not performed up to standards in either the run game or the pass game.

“When you don’t run the ball any better than we did, you don’t play very well up front. I think that’s a fair assessment,” Brown said. “What happened on Saturday is what happens a lot of times when bad football is played. It’s usually one guy or two guys on every play. Very seldom will you have multiple players not doing the right thing.

“On offense, you have to have all 11 guys going in the right direction. If you don’t have a guy getting the job done, especially at a key point, the play fails. I thought that’s what we had quite a bit of on Saturday.”

The line play was so deficient that it prevents Brown from giving starting quarterback Austin Kendall a fair evaluation.

“It’s tough to evaluate, honestly. I got him getting hit eight times the first three series,” Brown said. “There were times when he threw the ball really well. I thought he showed courage by staying in the pocket and delivering the ball.”

Courage, though, is not nearly as valuable an asset on the gridiron as time to throw the ball.

Follow Bob Hertzel on Twitter at @bhertzel.

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