MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – With an open date on the West Virginia football schedule this coming Saturday, Mountaineer coach Neal Brown said this is a good time for his 2-4 squad to “reflect, repair and readjust.”
Having dropped to 0-3 in the Big 12 Conference, the latest loss being a 45-20 blowout at Baylor, WVU’s coach admitted during his weekly press conference on Tuesday that changes need to be made to bring future success, but he also wasn’t about to alter his core beliefs.
“There are some things I believe are non-negotiable from a program standpoint and a schematic principle standpoint in each phase of the game. We’re not getting off that,” stated WVU’s third-year head coach. “I’m not sitting here hitting the panic button. I haven’t lost belief in our players, and I haven’t lost belief in our staff.
“What we do is we have to reflect on where we made mistakes,” he noted. “How do we continue to build on the positives? What needs to be fixed? Or maybe more importantly, how do we hide what our deficiencies are better? Then how do we readjust? I guess that’s what everybody wants to know – how do we readjust? You can’t continue to do the same things if they aren’t working. That’s really what the process of what this week is about. How do we build on our positives, and how do we diminish where our deficiencies are? Are there some younger guys who give us a better opportunity? Then where do we readjust our planning?
“But the basic tenets of our program are not changing.”
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West Virginia will spend the open week concentrating on self-improvement before it heads back to Texas for an Oct. 23 meeting with TCU at Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth.
“I think the bye week comes at a good time,” Brown noted on Tuesday. “Physically we’re beat up, and emotionally we’re spent. We gave (the players) Sunday and Monday off. This afternoon will be the first time I’ve seen the team (since Saturday). I met with the staff this morning; we were out recruiting yesterday. Everybody in this building is frustrated. Nobody likes losing; that’s obvious.
“We’re inconsistent,” he added. “We do some things well, and then out of the blue, the same thing we did well, two plays later we’ll make a mistake on it. That part of it is very frustrating.”
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Brown was asked Tuesday about players who normally have seen action but did not make the trip to Baylor Saturday.
He said on Saturday after the game that safety Scottie Young was dealing with a health issue.
Defensive lineman Darel Middleton and safety K.J. Martin also were absent in Waco, and Brown addressed the situation with both of those at his weekly press conference on Tuesday.
“Middleton, I would say at this point is no longer with us,” said Brown, indicating the transfer from Tennessee has left the WVU squad. “Kerry was sick. He practiced Monday last week but didn’t practice anytime after that.”
With 12 days before WVU’s next game, the hope is that both Young and Martin will be available for West Virginia’s contest at TCU.
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With the 2021 season now at its midpoint, the Mountaineers’ head coach admits that there have been obvious problems, but he stated he’s not ready to fold.
“I know our fans are frustrated,” Brown said. “This is the way I think about it, right or wrong, but we’re the entertainment business – that’s what we are – and when the product is not good, the people have an opportunity to complain. That’s probably what they’re doing, and I don’t blame them. It’s no different than when you go to a restaurant and the food is not good, or if you go to a movie and it’s not good, or however you get your entertainment, when the product is not good, you get complaints. But it’s not entertainment for us, the people in this building each and every day. It’s our job to get it fixed. You can’t be reactionary. I think that’s the world we live in; everything wants to be reactionary now. Well, it can’t actually be that once you’re in it. You have to find ways to fix it.
“We have to use this bye week to reflect on what’s been good and bad, and I think you do it for each phase of the game,” he explained “You repair what you can fix. That’s a big piece of it. You have to repair what you can repair. Then the last thing is you have to readjust the plan moving forward. That’s where we’re at – reflect, repair and readjust.
“We have a lot of football left. We have half a season left. Everything is doom and gloom right now, but I don’t think you approach it like that. From where I’m sitting, and when I sit in front of the team here at 2:45 this afternoon, I’m not going to be miserable. I think right now is the time to lead. It’s easy to lead when things are going well. It’s hard to lead when things are going poorly, and our performance on Saturday was poor. Right now is when we need leadership, not only from myself but also from our assistant coaches and the leaders we have on our team.
“I think now is the time you lock in and focus on your people,” Brown concluded. “We’ve got to pour into our people and meet it head-on. It is what it is. We had a bad performance. I don’t think you avoid it. You meet it head-on, and we go about your work. It’s going to be a challenge, but it’s doable. We’ve played better football, and we will play better football.”