Neal Brown: Three Keys To WVU’s Win Over TCU

West Virginia quarterback Jarret Doege (right) and running back Leddie Brown (4) at the mesh point

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – According to West Virginia’s third-year head coach Neal Brown, his Mountaineer football team emerged from Fort Worth with a 29-17 victory over TCU because it prevailed in three key areas.

“It was a much-need win on the road at TCU,” acknowledged Brown, who is 3-0 against the Horned Frogs in his time at WVU. “Our response over the last two weeks (after suffering three straight losses) has been positive. That was definitely our most consistent performance of the year.

“There are three clear reasons why we won the game,” the coach continued, as his team now sits at 3-4. “No. 1 is turnover margin. We had three takeaways, and I thought all three were takeaways; I thought we created those. Daryl Porter stepped in front on his pick. Charles Woods made an aggressive play on his interception, and then Sean Mahone rips the ball out. Then we had zero turnovers on offense. That turnover margin was key.

“Second is rushing. We ran the ball for 229 yards, and they ran it for 149. We averaged 5.6 yards per carry, and they averaged 4.4.

“Then the third thing, and it can’t be overlooked when they are as explosive on offense as they are, is we ran 70 plays and they ran 60. We had the ball for over 35 minutes, and they had it for about 24. That’s because of third and fourth downs. We were able to convert at a higher rate than they were (WVU converted six of 14 on third downs and one of two fourth downs, while TCU converted four of 12 third downs and one of three fourth downs). Thus we had the ball longer, and thus had more plays.

“Those were the keys to the game.”

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Brown announced West Virginia’s award winner from its victory over TCU included:

Offensive Player of the Week – Leddie Brown
Defensive Player of the Week – Charles Woods
Special Teams Player of the Week – Casey Legg
Offensive Lineman Player of the Week – Zach Frazier
Blue Collar Award – Mike O’Laughlin, Josh Chandler-Semedo
Scout Team Players of the Week – Markquan Rucker, Quamaezius Mosby, Caleb Coleman

West Virginia linebacker Josh Chandler-Semedo shows all-out effort as he fights through a block to make a tackle

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Legg and Woods also were honored by the Big 12 this week, being named the league’s special teams player of the week and defensive newcomer of the week respectively.

“I was proud of Casey Legg,” said Brown. “He’s been outstanding all year on field goals (now 13 of 14), and he saved us with his kickoffs Saturday. We did several specialty kicks with him (pooch, squib, etc.) after they returned the one (for a 100-yard TD).

“Charles is getting more and more comfortable,” Brown added of Woods, who transferred to WVU this summer after two years at Illinois State. “He has stepped a level in competition (from FCS to FBS), and there is a difference in speed. He’s getting comfortable now. You can see him getting better.”

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Woods had five tackles, an interception and a fumble recovery against TCU. He received more playing time in Fort Worth than he had in the previous six games in part because WVU’s starting cornerback Nicktroy Fortune went down with a leg injury in the first half. Woods took over for Fortune.

West Virginia defensive back Charles Woods shows the ball after recovering a TCU fumble

“We talk about that a lot,” explained Brown. “When you get your opportunity, what do you do with it? He made the most of his.”

Fortune was one of three Mountaineers who suffered leg injuries at TCU, along with defensive lineman Akheem Mesidor and tight end Mike O’Laughlin.

“We’ll have to wait and see,” said Brown when asked about the status of the trio. “I think two of them will be Saturday calls. Akheem is fine; he practiced yesterday. The other two will go down to the weekend.”

If Fortune is unable to go, Woods will likely slide into that starting spot at the cornerback opposite Porter. West Virginia doesn’t have a lot of depth at the corner, though. Malachi Ruffin has seen some action there, and this week against Iowa State, true freshman corner Andrew Wilson-Lamp may also have to be ready to see snaps. In addition, Jackie Matthews, who has started the last two games for WVU at spear, also is capable of playing cornerback.

“We have number issues in the secondary,” admitted Brown. “It is what it is. We’ll have to cross-train some. We’ll get Ruffin ready, and Jackie has some flexibility. If Nicktroy can’t go, we’ll make it work.”

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West Virginia’s 229 rushing yards Saturday were a season-best through its first seven games of 2021.

Certainly, Leddie Brown (111 yards), Garrett Greene (67 yards) and Tony Mathis (48 yards) each were big pieces in that ground performance, but the Mountaineer offensive line received its share of credit as well. WVU used its five starters – Brandon Yates and Wyatt Milum at the tackles, James Gmiter and Doug Nester at the guards and Zach Frazier at center – the entire way in the win over the Horned Frogs.

“I thought our o-line played their best game, our interior three especially,” said Brown. “James Gmiter, who kind of has been under the radar, has been a really solid player for us all year. Frazier continues to play at a high level, and Nester played his best game.”

Milum made his second career start this past week. He is just the second Mountaineer true freshman offensive lineman in the past four decades to start a game, joining Frazier, who started nine games last year.

“Milum played well,” said Brown of the Spring Valley (W.Va.) product’s work against the Horned Frogs. “He’s still a true freshman, so he made some mistakes, but that’s the best game he’s played, and he was going against a really good player (in TCU defensive end (Ochaun Mathis). I thought Wyatt competed and battled. He overcame his negative plays better than he has in the past. He didn’t dwell on them but went on and played the next one. I thought that was a really positive experience for him, and we just need to keep getting him better.”

West Virginia defensive lineman Akheem Mesidor (90) gets a hand up against a TCU pass attempt

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The news didn’t come out until Brown’s early afternoon press conference Tuesday, but another Mountaineer football player revealed that he is entering the transfer portal.

Redshirt freshman linebacker Devell Washington announced via Twitter later Tuesday afternoon that he planned to transfer out of West Virginia. The Saginaw, Michigan, arrived at WVU as a wide receiver as part of the class of 2020, but the 6-foot-2, 215-pounder was moved to will linebacker this past spring. He didn’t see much playing time at either position, seeing action in two games in 2020 and one game this season.

Washington is the fifth Mountaineer scholarship player to enter the transfer portal since September, joining safety K.J. Martin, defensive lineman Darel Middleton, bandit Eddie Watkins and linebacker James Thomas.


Home Page forums Neal Brown: Three Keys To WVU’s Win Over TCU

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    MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – According to West Virginia’s third-year head coach Neal Brown, his Mountaineer football team emerged from Fort Worth with a 29-17
    [See the full post at: Neal Brown: Three Keys To WVU’s Win Over TCU]


    Better offensive line play and more aggressive secondary.  Definitely

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Home Page forums Neal Brown: Three Keys To WVU’s Win Over TCU

Home Page forums Neal Brown: Three Keys To WVU’s Win Over TCU