West Virginia head coach Neal Brown talked about his team’s defeat to No. 11 Oklahoma State last weekend and glanced ahead to this weekend’s matchup at Kansas State during his weekly Tuesday press conference.
Brown went into detail of how much his team was manhandled at home this past Saturday in the team’s offensive and special team’s phases of the game by a bigger and tougher Oklahoma State opponent.
“We got beat by a better football team on Saturday,” Brown said. “[We] didn’t play anywhere close to good enough to win in two out of the three phases, special teams and offense, neither one of those sides we came close to being able to compete at a level that would give us an opportunity to win and credit Oklahoma State, they were better than us.”
A key moment that changed momentum of the game against the Cowboys was a third quarter muffed fumble by redshirt sophomore returner Graeson Malashevich which was recovered by Oklahoma State at the WVU 29-yard line. The turnover resulted in an Oklahoma State Spencer Sanders to Tay Martin touchdown pass only a couple minutes later.
“[Malashevich] took his eyes off of it for a second, he should have been in fair catch mode but to his credit he went and caught the other one, so it’s just about having a short memory,” said Brown of his returner against Oklahoma State.
Kansas State comes into this week’s matchup with West Virginia on a three-game winning streak following a route of Kansas last week, 35-10.
“Kansas State; they’re playing their best football of the year. Three game winning streak and credit to their staff I think they went through a little downturn there where they lost three and they’ve been able to turn it around, they’ve won their last three,” said Brown. “Going into Manhattan is a tough place to play, they’ve done a great job with that venue there, really passionate fanbase, very similar to ours, it’s really a tough place to play.”
The Wildcats also possess a number of different weapons on the offensive side of the ball that they have been able to utilize in different ways including senior quarterback Skylar Thompson and sophomore running back Deuce Vaughn.
“They’ve got a couple guys that are really good in one on one. I think it starts with Deuce Vaughn,” Brown said. “They do a good job of getting him isolated in the run game and the pass game and they get him in empty, he’s special, he makes people miss. Skylar Thompson is the biggest difference this year, when he’s been healthy they’ve played at a different level, he’s a tough kid, a really good decision maker,” explained Brown.
Brown talked about how his team has to be focused on the present moment and not let outside chatter or results of past games affect how the team practices and plays on Saturdays from here on out.
“Each team’s different as you go through the year, you kind of get a feel of what buttons to push. With this group I know we need to focus on the here and now, we can’t necessarily dwell on the past or the negative either because that doesn’t do a good job so we’ve got to be focused on what do we have to do against K-State to give us a chance to win Saturday afternoon, that’s the main focus,” Brown said.
The Mountaineers will kick off against the Wildcats of Kansas State in Manhattan, Kansas, on Saturday at noon on Fox Sports 1.
(Photo by Dale Sparks, All Pro Photography)