WVU football is coming, but are players ready? (copy)

WVU Mountaineers football coach Neal Brown

MORGANTOWN — Neal Brown’s message as he engaged with the media during his weekly Tuesday press conference was a simple one.

Winning the opener was nice, but his West Virginia beat in Eastern Kentucky a team it was far better than and they must improve over the new two weeks before opening the Big 12 season at Oklahoma State on Saturday, Sept. 26.

“We got to continue to prove that we’re better,” Brown said. “I don’t think because we ran the ball or our offensive line blocked against Eastern Kentucky that we’re better ... that was what we were supposed to do.”

Because of that and the strange circumstances this year continues to create, including not only canceling the Mountaineers scheduled opener against Florida State, Brown isn’t sticking with his normal routine.

“We are not going to approach this as a typical bye week. We will have more camp style practices and do a lot of good-on-good work (rather than the starters facing a scout team and giving younger players more attention),” Brown said.

Brown admitted he liked what he saw both on offense and defense — considering the situation and that it was the first game — but was disappointed in special teams where they let a kickoff come back 100 yards (nullified by penalty), missed an easy field goal, and had penalties.

“We don’t ever want to be in a position where West Virginia beats West Virginia,” Brown said.


The awards for the opening week:

Offensive line: Mike Brown. “He had his best game in a Mountaineer uniform,” Brown said. Brown graded out the highest at 87%.

Brown was injured in the game but Neal Brown says the big offensive guard will be back and was to take part in Tuesday practice.

Defensive player of the week: Arizona transfer Tony Fields II, who had eight tackles and a couple of assists at linebacker and “flew around out there,” according to Brown.

Offensive player of the week: No surprise in running back Leddie Brown, who gained 123 yards on 10 carries, scoring two rushing touchdowns and one as a receiver. “His most impressive stat,” said Neal Brown “was zero negative yardage plays. That’s something we talked about during the off-season.”

Special teams: Alonzo Addae, who set the tone for the day with a vicious tackle at the EKU 13 on WVU’s second kickoff after a 100-yard kickoff return had been called back due to offsetting penalties.

Blue Collar Award: A new award given out for behind the scenes work that doesn’t show up on the stat sheet went to fullback Jackson Knipper, who played 31 snaps and was on a couple of special team units.

The scout team offensive player of the week: Quarterback Trent Jackson whom Brown said “did a nice job leading that group.”

Defensive scout team player of the week: Bandit Lanell Carr, who got to play and recorded a sack.

Special team scout player of the week: Cornerback Quamaezius Mosby.

Juice Squad player of the week: This is given to the player who brings the most excitement on the sidelines. Back up punter Evan Matthes. “This is more important with no fans in the stands,” Brown said.


Brown had planned to get a look at true freshman defensive lineman Sean Martin from Bluefield in the opener but he wasn’t available to play.

“We’ve got two guys that are true freshmen for us that are walk-on who are the only positive COVID cases we had. Sean missed the game due to contact tracing. He’s healthy and he’s fine, but he was out due to contact tracing,” Brown said.

Contact tracing means he was quarantined because he had contact with one of the players who tested positive.


Brown also explained why freshman Sam Brown started ahead of last year’s leading receiver Sam James at wide receiver.

“Sam James missed some practice time,” Brown said. “He had a bit of an injury and missed some practice. I thought Sam Brown deserved the opportunity because he was productive in camp and I wanted to make a point.”

Both played well, James being the leading receiver with five catches for 72 yards and a touchdown while Sam Brown caught four passes for 43 yards, including a 22-yard reception.

Neal Brown wasn’t the only one who made his point. Sam Brown did, too.

“He played better than I thought he would,” Neal Brown said of Sam Brown. “All preparation does is give you an opportunity. You still have to perform. People react different ways. Some people rise to the occasion and that’s what Sam Brown did.”

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