WVU’s Neal Brown: ‘We Have Plenty Of Work Left To Do’

WVU’s Neal Brown: ‘We Have Plenty Of Work Left To Do’


MORGANTOWN, W.Va.– The thing about football practice is that if one side is good, the other generally is bad.

So it was for West Virginia in Saturday’s officiated scrimmage. According to WVU’s first-year head coach Neal Brown, the Mountaineers’ first-team offense won the day on Friday, but the No. 1 defense turned things around on Saturday.

West Virginia quarterback Trey Lowe (10) hands off to running back Alec Sinkfield
West Virginia quarterback Trey Lowe (10) hands off to running back Alec Sinkfield

“It was our first scrimmage, which for a coach is both good and bad,” said Brown after Saturday’s workout inside Mountaineer Field. “The good is we got live work in a game situation with officials. The bad is that it’s a wake-up call that we have a lot of work to do, which is to be expected honestly.

“The first defense won soundly versus our first offense, and our second offense won soundly over our second defense,” Brown said in evaluating Saturday’s scrimmage. “Friday was probably our worst practice since we’ve been here defensively. The offense went up and down the field without much resistance. As happens in camp a lot, the one defense was ready to go today and the offense didn’t answer the bell.

“If you look at it, the sloppiness was attributed to penalties,” he added of the offensive problems. “A lot of those were procedure penalties, which are mental errors. We really struggled to run the ball, and we had multiple drops (in the passing game). We didn’t throw it very well, didn’t protect it very well and didn’t run it very well. That about says it all.

“The second offense, I think, did some nice things,” continued Brown. “Defensively we have a lot of freshmen playing with that second unit, and we have a ways to go there.”

* * * * * *

Brown singled out some of individuals for their positive performances in Saturday’s scrimmage.

• Sophomore defensive end Taijh Alston – “He had a really good day, and that came after he had probably his worst day as a Mountaineer yesterday, so that bounce back is encouraging. He had four sacks.”

• Junior nose tackle Darius Stills – “He was really disruptive. I thought he won the battle against (center) Chase Behrndt decisively today.”

• Senior defensive end Reuben Jones – “He made some plays with the first and second unit.”

• Freshman cornerback Tae Mayo – “He had a pick and ran it back. I really like how he’s competed the last couple of days.”

• Redshirt freshman wide receiver Sam James – “He continues to make plays down the field. I’m excited about his potential.

“He’s a guy who has to be a player for us. He’s a redshirt freshman, but he’s not allowed to play like a redshirt freshman. Where we’re at, he needs to be a guy we can count on. He’s got really good speed and good ball skills. He’s not allowed to have bad days.

“At West Virginia, there is a history of high level receivers, and he may be the next guy, but it has to happen every day. We’ll continue to push him to reach what I think is a high ceiling.”

• Sophomore receiver Sean Ryan and senior receiver George Campbell – “Both made some plays down the field on go balls, which is something we need and the reason we added those guys (via transfers).”

• Sophomore running back Alec Sinkfield – “He played the best of all our backs.”

• Redshirt freshman quarterback Trey Lowe – “He had a really good day. He led a couple scoring drives and really played well.”

* * * * * *

Brown confirmed that punter Josh Growden has arrived at WVU, having transferred from LSU.

A fifth-year senior who is a grad transfer, Growden lettered the past three seasons for the Tigers and served as their designated short-range punter the last couple of year after holding the full-time job as a redshirt freshman in 2016. A native of Australia, Growden averaged 41.4 yards per punt that first year.

“He was out there today, and he punted,” noted Brown of Growden, who arrived in Morgantown Friday. “We welcome him to the team. He’s a good addition. He has talent and fits a need. It’s something we’ve been working on; that’s why I dodged the question (about the state of his punters) earlier in the week. I’m excited about having him.”

* * * * * *

 Junior cornerback Dreshun Miller has missed the past few practices because of an injury, but for the most part West Virginia has been healthy through the first week of fall camp.

“We’re pretty healthy, especially being seven days in,” noted Brown. “We did have some bumps and bruises today, but I’m not sure if it was anything significant.”

* * * * * *

With Miller sidelined for the past few practices, true freshmen corners Tae Mayo and Nicktroy Fortune have been getting a lot of reps, rotating with seniors Hakeem Bailey and Keith Washington.

“I like their makeup,” said Brown of his young cornerbacks. “It’s a challenging position to play early, especially with the dudes we’re playing in our league. Mayo is a little light right now (5-10, 161 lbs.), but he’s really competitive. Fortune is the exact build we want (6-0, 187 lbs.), and he can run. They are getting challenged because we have some length (at receiver). There were some (receivers) who made some plays today but just because they are long and went over the top of them.

“I do like their makeup, and they’re going to be a factor for us this fall,” explained Brown. “Tacorey Turner (6-2, 185 lbs.) is another (true freshman corner) who is going to be, in the long term, a really good player for us. He’s a little bit behind (Mayo and Fortune) right now, but he’s long and can run and has good skills.”

* * * * * *

WVU has swapped a pair of players from free safety and spear.

Junior Dante Bonamico, who had moved from spear to free safety this summer, has recently moved back to spear. True freshman Tykee Smith, who had been at spear for the first week of fall camp, has moved back to free safety.

“Tykee is a guy who is going to play,” said Brown of the Philadelphia native. “We like depth at that safety position, and he’s a guy who is physical and can run. I thought it was a good move to put him back there where he can get a lot of reps.”

Smith (5-10, 184 lbs.) is challenging senior Josh Norwood and juniors Sean Mahone and Jake Long for playing time at the two deep safety spots, which are called free and cat in West Virginia’s lingo.

“Josh is still learning what to do, but I love what he brings every day,” Brown said of the 5-10, 178-pound Norwood, who was WVU’s starting cornerback last year but moved to cat safety this summer.

* * * * * *

As for his quarterbacks, Brown doesn’t seem ready to name a starter among the three main competitors in Austin Kendall, Jack Allison and Trey Lowe, at least not after Saturday’s scrimmage.

“I didn’t think our quarterbacks performed very well as a group today,” said Brown moments after getting off the field. “It’s really a hard assessment to make until after you watch the video and see kind of what they see. But it wasn’t as productive as we needed it to be.

“Trey Lowe did some good things,” he continued. “We let him run the ball, and he did some nice things in the running game and hit a long touchdown pass as well.”

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* * * * * *

Brown said he didn’t want to make any further comments on the status of junior tight end Jovani Haskins, who was charged recently with three misdemeanors after a July 28 auto incident.

“I’ll let my statement the other day be the speaking point right now,” Brown stated. “We’re handling that in-house right now, and as we get farther along, we’ll let you know.”

* * * * * *

As to where he believes his team is at basically the halfway point of fall camp?

“We have a lot of work left to do, but plenty of time to get there,” said WVU’s head coach.

“Our bad is really bad,” he added. “When we’re good, we look like a quality football team, but we’ve got to make it where our bad is at least average. We’re not there yet.”

Home forums WVU’s Neal Brown: ‘We Have Plenty Of Work Left To Do’

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  • #95259

    WVU’s Neal Brown: ‘We Have Plenty Of Work Left To Do’ MORGANTOWN, W.Va.– The thing about football practice is that if one side is good, the other gene
    [See the full post at: WVU’s Neal Brown: ‘We Have Plenty Of Work Left To Do’]

    #95265

    Good to hear that Coach Brown doesn’t sugar coat anything.

    #95267

    He has been straightforward, and also will indicate when he’s not ready to talk about a topic. But when he does defer, he’ll say that he will address it in the future, and he has followed up as promised. From my perspective, he’s a vast improvement.

    #95347

    Seems much, much more polished in front of the mic than our last 2 HC’s.

    #95348

    And he gets it.  NB gets the connection to the roots of the state.  Here’s a response to a recent WVU Football Tweet.  Holgs did some of the same, but this seems more real and not just scripted for show.

    Nancy Malone@nanceemalone·
    Aug 10
    Replying to@WVUfootball
    My Grandfather, Father and Brother were all coal miners. I have so much respect for Coach Brown and this team. I’m glad my son Nick is part of it. Not just for the football but for all of the things he will be taught about life. Let’s Go Mountaineers!!

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Home forums WVU’s Neal Brown: ‘We Have Plenty Of Work Left To Do’