(Neal Brown Zoom Conference)
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia will be heavily favored to improve 3-1 next Saturday afternoon when they host Kansas at Milan Puskar Stadium. WVU successfully, although anxiously, cleared a swing game in their schedule last Saturday in a 27-21 double overtime win over Baylor.
“I thought we showed real toughness, real physicality,” WVU head coach Neal Brown said. “Probably the most toughness and physicality we have shown in the two years I have been here. It wasn’t pretty, but we found ways to win the game. That is the important thing.”
Following the win, Brown said he hoped the game could be a benchmark in the evolution of his program. On Tuesday, he acknowledged that can only happen if continued success follows throughout the month of October and beyond.
“We’ve got to play with the same effort, the same physicality, the same mental toughness to overcome adversity. That’s something I don’t think we have always done a very good job of. When something bad happened, I don’t think we responded in a good way against Oklahoma State. The only way this is kind of a turning point win is if we follow it up against Kansas and against Texas Tech and as we go down the schedule.”
In the first three games of the season, ‘big plays’ have been few and far between for the Mountaineer offense. WVU has hit on six plays of thirty yards or longer, four of those came in the Eastern Kentucky game. Winston Wright’s 70-yard touchdown reception at Oklahoma State represents the only play of fifty yards or longer.
“We have to throw the ball down the field better. We had some opportunities against Oklahoma State and I think we hit on one of them. I didn’t do a good enough job in this Baylor game of getting them called. That’s on me. We probably had less than three opportunities against Baylor.
“In the second half, once I felt how it was going, I didn’t want to put us in that position. But moving forward, we are going to have to to win games.”
For the second time in three games, West Virginia had to shuffle the deck on their offensive line with subtractions from the starting lineup. After James Gmiter tested positive for COVID-19, Fairmont Senior graduate Zach Frazier made his second collegiate start. He also started the opener against EKU at center.
“I though Zach Frazier, a true freshman making his second start, this time at left guard where he hadn’t practiced a ton, he got most of his practice reps at center. He made some mistakes but he is physical and really good in the run game. There’s a couple things, switching off of twists, recognizing blitz where it worked against him because he didn’t have practice reps. But I thought he did a really nice job.”
Frazier is one of many true freshmen that have played key roles early in the season. Defensive lineman Akheem Mesidor and receiver Reese Smith, have joined Frazier in appearing in all three games. Cornerback Daryl Porter, Jr. has played in two.
“They were in and out, quarantined and isolated. They were in split groups. So the discipline, structure and just knowing what to do, knowing what the expectation level, I am sure it is the same way all across college football. I feel for them because they haven’t gone through what a normal progression would be. Now we are in season and it has been a month, give or take, where the routine has been established.”