Neal Brown: WVU Falls Short Of Historic Win, Turns Attention To Texas Tech

West Virginia head coach Neal Brown lobbies for a roughing the punter call

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – West Virginia had a chance Saturday for its first-ever road win over an opponent ranked in the top eight nationally, but it came up short at No. 3/4 Oklahoma, falling 16-13 on a last-second Sooner field goal.

The Mountaineers are now 0-33 all-time against top eight opponents on the road, while holding a 5-20 record at home and a 2-5 mark in neutral site games.

“We’re an improving football team, but we’ve got to take the next step and win those football games,” stated WVU head coach Neal Brown, whose squad fell to 2-2 on the season with the loss to the Sooners. “Oklahoma is a good football team; they’re talented. But we were good enough on that night to win, and we’ve got to get over the hump and do that.

“I thought we played tough and physical, but we just made too many critical mistakes to win the game,” he added.

“On offense, we had a good plan, and we really battled up front. Their d-line is very good, but our guys battled. Both our quarterbacks did some good things, and (WVU’s receivers) won against man coverage.

“Our defense played very, very well for three quarters. We ran to the ball, tackled well, we were physical. We were great on first down, and that’s a stat that gets lost. We prevented all but one deep ball, but I think we got tired late. Their last two drives went 16 plays and 14 plays. I thought we wore down a little bit then. From a coaching perspective, we’ve got to rotate our d-line maybe a little bit more.”

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* * * * * *

West Virginia certainly had a chance to leave Norman with its first-ever victory over the Sooners – home or away – since joining the Big 12 in 2012.

Three Mountaineer miscues in the second half proved critical in keeping WVU from adding to its 10-7 halftime lead.

“We had three possessions in the second half,” recalled Brown. “The first one we drove down and got a procedure penalty on the one when it was second down. I felt like we really had a chance to make a statement there, but we didn’t get it in (settling for a field goal and a 13-10 lead). The second one, after we got the fourth-down stop, we missed a throw on third down. The third one, we were in really good position. We drove down to their 27-yard line with 5:50 to go.”

At that point, WVU freshman center Zach Frazier had miscues on back-to-back plays, getting flagged for a snap infraction and then sailing a snap wide of quarterback Jarret Doege, resulting in a 21-yard loss. Suddenly a promising drive was halted, and West Virginia was forced to punt with the score tied at 13-13. The Mountaineer offense would never get the ball back, as Oklahoma took possession at its own eight-yard line and marched 80 yards over the final 3:39 to set up Gabe Brkic’s game-winning 30-yard field goal.

“Here’s what it comes down to – we got the ball to the 27-yard line, and then we got a false start when it was second-and-seven. Then we had a bad snap,” explained Brown, who is 13-13 overall and 2-8 against ranked opponents since becoming WVU’s head coach in 2019. “The thing is Zach Frazier played his ass off – I may not be able to say that on live radio. He did; he played well. Zach Frazier, if he’s not our hardest worker, he’s in the conversation, not to hurt anyone else’s feelings. He’s the most prepared and is one of our hardest workers in practice. He does everything to give himself an opportunity to play well on Saturday night. I think we had 63 countable snaps, and 59 of those were pretty good (for Frazier), even though he was playing against two guys who are very good. I thought he did a great job, but he had two bad plays. There’s not much we’ll correct. He only had one other bad snap the whole game. He thought the quarterback asked for the ball, though he didn’t. That’s kind of what it is. I’ll say this, Zach Frazier, over the course of the next three-and-a-half years, I’ll take him in that situation every single time. He’ll learn from it and move on.”

* * * * * *

West Virginia purposely tried to slow the pace Saturday in an attempt to keep the ball out of the hands of the normally dynamic Sooner offense.

West Virginia won the time-of-possession battle 33:00 to 27:00, though that ultimately wasn’t enough to win the war.

While Brown was happy to keep the time-of-possession balance on his side, he would have liked to have seen the Mountaineers make more explosive plays.

“I’ve got to do a better job of getting us in some successful shot plays. We called them, but we didn’t have them open. That’s on me at the end of the day,” said WVU’s head coach.

“We have to figure out ways to get more explosive plays. We were able to hold on to the football quite a bit, but we have to score touchdowns to win those games. You wanted to minimize possessions against them. If you look at Oklahoma, they haven’t lost very many shootouts. So, you want to minimize possessions, but when you do that, you’re not going to get many shots, so when you get in the red zone, you’ve got to score touchdowns. And you can’t make mistakes that hurt you. At the end of the day, that’s what we did.”

West Virginia had just two plays of 20 yards or longer at OU – a 28-yard pass from Doege to Winston Wright and a 20-yard run by Leddie Brown. In WVU’s three games prior to facing Oklahoma, the Mountaineers had 18 gains of 20 yards or more.

West Virginia quarterback Jarret Doege (2) hits Bryce Ford-Wheaton (0) for a completion on a slant pattern

“Going into the Oklahoma contest, we were first or second in the league in explosive plays,” noted Brown. “I think we were three of eight on down-the-field throws (against OU). You’re a little limited because you have to be careful protection-wise against that group that Oklahoma has. So, we were three of eight with a drop. That’s 50%, which isn’t bad, but we’ve got to get the ball 20+ yards on those explosive plays. That’s where, schematically, we have to do a better job against those type of people, that type of pass rush. We have to do some different things protection-wise to allow us to hold on to the ball a little longer so we can get the ball down the field.”

* * * * * *

The Mountaineers’ lost at Oklahoma was the continuation of a troubling second-half trend. In its three games against FBS foes this year, WVU has been limited to a single second-half field goal in each.

In its 30-24 loss at Maryland in the season opener, West Virginia’s only second-half points came on a fourth-quarter field goal with 2:53 left in the game. Against Virginia Tech, WVU got a field goal on its first drive of the second half to push its lead to 27-7 but went scoreless after that, forcing it to scratch and claw in holding on for a 27-21 win. Then Saturday at Oklahoma, the Mountaineers again got a field goal on their first possession of the second half, increasing their lead to 13-10 at the time. WVU failed to score after that, though, allowing room for the Sooners’ comeback.

Though the second-half scoring was identical in each game, Brown said the circumstances were different, at least in this most recent one.

“We have to get better; that’s the truth of it. We have to score more in the second half,” admitted Brown.

West Virginia receiver Isaiah Esdale gets contact prior to the arrival of a pass, which arrived out of bounds and correctly resulted in no flag being thrown

“We’ve had really good drives to start the second half every time, but we just had to kick field goals,” he continued. “(The criticism) is fair for Maryland and is fair for Virginia Tech. Virginia Tech, we kind of took the air out of it, and we probably did that too early. It was 27-7, and we thought we were one score from putting that away. Maryland was fair too, but this last week, not as much. We only had three (second half) possessions, and we had productive drives on two of them. We should have scored a touchdown on one but had to settle for a field goal. Then we were in position on another. It was fair Virginia Tech and Maryland but not as much this past week.”

* * * * * *

WVU now turns its attention to Texas Tech (3-1), which is coming off a 70-35 loss at Texas this past weekend.

The Red Raiders started the season with three straight wins over Houston (38-21), Stephen F. Austin (28-22) and FIU (54-21) before being brought back to earth in Austin.

West Virginia leads the all-time series against TTU 6-4, which includes a five-game win streak from 2014-18. But Tech coach Matt Wells’ crew has found a way to upend Brown’s Mountaineers in each of the last two seasons – 38-17 in Morgantown in 2019 and 34-27 in Lubbock in 2020.

“Texas Tech has had our number the past two years. Everybody knows that,” stated Brown. “We haven’t played well against them. They beat us, but we haven’t played well.”

WVU is currently a seven-point favorite for Saturday’s contest at Mountaineer Field, which will kick off at 3:30 p.m. (Eastern time) and will be televised on ESPN2.

“We’re glad to be home, Stripe the Stadium,” said Brown. “I think it’s important to note that (former West Virginia All-American linebacker) Darryl Talley is getting his number (90) retired. I’ve enjoyed getting to know him the past few years. He’s as good a defensive player who has ever played here. He’s special.”

 

 

Home Page forums Neal Brown: WVU Falls Short Of Historic Win, Turns Attention To Texas Tech

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  • #157081

    MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – West Virginia had a chance Saturday for its first-ever road win over an opponent ranked in the top eight nationally, but it came u
    [See the full post at: Neal Brown: WVU Falls Short Of Historic Win, Turns Attention To Texas Tech]

    #157093

    I like Brown.  He doesn’t duck things.  Takes responsibility.  Has good answers.  He didn’t have the players Oklahoma does, but doesn’t use that as an excuse.  Still trust the climb

    #157166

    I agree with ccteam. Both Brown and the climb. We are seeing some pretty stout changes and while losing to OK sucked, it was a good battle. The defense is real. The offense has issues but I can see light in 2022-2026. Some very solid recruits. Right now its cut and paste bandaid playing. I truly do hope Brown allows Greene some serious field time. If his wings spread TT will go to Lubbock with another loss. Texas hung 70 on them and while Texas has excellent talent, they are another Oklahoma in many ways. WV should cover that 7 points plus another 10. If Greene plays substantial time…WV 35-14. If he doesn’t and if Doege plays majority, Id say WV 24-21.

    #157188

    I like Brown, both as a coach, and as a leader. IMO, he is head and shoulders better than the last coach at recruiting and at game planning. Yet, I continue reading some fan’s remarks wanting Dana back. I have no clue what they’re thinking, or smoking.

    Perhaps if Dana coached at a school that little effort is needed to bring in high ranking recruits, Dana would do fine. Perhaps, with the number of quality recruits in the Houston area, he may do well. But, that’s not at WVU where there are few quality athletes in the area.

    At WVU, a coach has to recruit against Ohio Stat, Penn State, Georgia, Florida and other major schools. At WVU, a coach will lose more of those battles than he’ll win. But, it appears that Brown is willing to fight for the quality athletes. So, I’m happy that he’s working for those type athletes.

    #157189

    I truly believe the TT game is the most important game of our season.  We can’t let OK beat us twice and we can’t let TT outscore us.  I hope the stadium is packed with fans who will cheer for WVU through thick and thin.  That could be huge at critical points.  We won’t be there but we gave our tickets to someone who I know will be there and they are diehard Mountaineer fans.  They will be doing their part.

    We have to get this one.  The next 2 are on the road.

    #157190

    ‍You are so correct about Dana. I can elaborate on his lack of appeal to recruits, players, and a host of others. He had some tactical skills on the sidelines and knew football but I would not let my kid play for him. He rode the recruiting of past coaches into the ground, had his best years with those recruits and the slide began. Ill take integrity, morals, and honesty over hype every time. Im glad Houston got him. Tillman Fertitta and he are cut from the same cloth and Dana will burn that bridge sooner than later. Hide and watch.

    #157192

    I supported Dana while he was here, but it was clear we weren’t restocking talent at the same level and the program wasn’t elevating.  I’m more excited about Brown than I have been about anyone in quite some time.  My biggest worry is actually that he’ll be too successful too fast and leave.

    Several times our largest complaint during these games have come back to be not quite what we thought once film was reviewed or questions were asked.  While we can nitpick particular play calls or schemes, I think overall we’ve got really nice play design on offense, and clearly our best defense over a 2-year span in recent memory.

    And to add one more positive.  While we haven’t cleaned up all of our mistakes, and there are certainly areas for improvement – we have corrected a few of our biggest issues.  We aren’t seeing the drops we saw last year, or even earlier this year.  Penalties, while not completely cleaned up, have improved.  I’d need to look at stats to confirm that.

    #157235

    In looking at coach Browns first 2 1/2 seasons he is 14-14 through 28 games. Not exactly overwhelming but I still believe he will get there and in fairness Rich Rod starter 13-15 in his first 28 games and finished 47-11 in his 7 seasons in Morgantown.

    The problem is I don’t see a Patrick White waiting to take over at quarterback and play for 4 seasons. No high end quarterback does that these days.

    The concern is the offensive woes. As we all know WVU could and probably should be 4-0 but the new norm of only adding a field goal every 2nd half on offense is stunning. I just fear that the Red Raiders will come in on Homecoming Saturday and come out firing the football all over the field and if WVU falls behind even 14-0 I don’t know that this offense can overcome that, especially in Jarrett Doege plays the majority of the game

    Its really difficult to project just what this WVU Football team will be several games down the road. I guess we will have a pretty good idea after Saturday.

    J.R.

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Home Page forums Neal Brown: WVU Falls Short Of Historic Win, Turns Attention To Texas Tech

Home Page forums Neal Brown: WVU Falls Short Of Historic Win, Turns Attention To Texas Tech