It’s officially week one and Mountaineer football is back with a capital “B.” Tuesday marked head coach Neal Brown’s first game week press conference, where the first season’s opponents, James Madison University, were finally addressed, as well as highlighting Brown’s readiness for Saturday’s matchup.
Coach Brown opened up the conference with a comment on the excitement from the student section on Saturday afternoon, noting that the students will set the tone in Milan Puskar for the opener, and the head coach expects nothing less.
“I really believe . . . I firmly believe that the students set the tone for the entire stadium,” Brown said. “So I encourage our students to show up, show up early, be loud, stay the game.”
West Virginia’s opponent, James Madison, has been talked about in the media for weeks on end, but has yet to really be commented on by the head ball coach up until this week. Brown pointed out that his team is so young, especially in comparison to the age on James Madison, and he doesn’t feel his team is overlooking their opponents or not respecting the team coming to Morgantown Saturday.
Brown highlighted that the sold out season opener will be packed with fans ready for the first game. Brown then went on to point out all of the work that the Mountaineer Maniacs put in for sporting events, football games included. Brown pointed out that the Maniacs are in their twentieth year as a student organization and the program is one that makes a great impact on game day settings and atmosphere.
Brown was asked about the youth and age of his team, a concern that many on the roster are younger and more inexperienced than in years past. When asked about whether or not the head coach wanted to play younger players, Brown gave a reply that you don’t often hear from many coaches.
“I’m the other way . . . I want to play these guys,” Brown said. “If a guy’s going to play, let’s maximize that he’s going to play. So if we’re making a decision that a kid’s not going to redshirt or if this is going to be one of the four games he plays until redshirt him, then he needs to play.”
Brown pointed out that during his time as an assistant coach, he definitely thought the opposite and that playing the older more experienced players was the ultimate way to go. Brown’s comments show that if a younger player is going to get a chance to play, they’re coming out with some real game time experience.
Coach Brown isn’t the only one who’s ready for the first game of the season, his family is ready too.
“Dax has no idea that we’re getting ready to play a game, so that’s positive,” Brown joked. “The kids are good, we started school last week, they’re excited. Brooke’s trying to figure out normal mom stuff, where to park and how to get the kids here . . . First game day here in Morgantown, so they’re looking forward to it.”
Brown remarked that it wasn’t so much his concern of not being able to sleep Friday night, but the nights leading up this week. Coach Brown feels that there are going to be a number of unknowns this week, leading up to his first game as West Virginia’s head coach and an opening game against a skilled opponent.
While there are plenty of unknowns that will hopefully have answers, good and bad, come midday Saturday, one thing is for certain: Coach Brown and team are ready to play and ready to face the season ahead.