Morgantown, W. Va. – By now, it’s the paraphrase heard around Mountaineer nation; Coach Neal Brown’s reaction to his team’s devastating loss against the Missouri Tigers. Brown is disappointed, not discouraged by the 38-7 blowout loss in Columbia this past Saturday. Now, days later, the head ball coach addressed local members of the media ahead of week three’s home matchup against the NC State Wolfpack.
“I think this is our first real test – the first real adversity this football team has had and how do we handle it?” Brown said. “How do we respond? I think this week will be a good indication of where we’re at as far as being able to respond to things that don’t necessarily go our way.
“Growth occurs in failure and we failed on Saturday so it’s time to get better,” Brown pointed out.
The Wolfpack coming in from Raleigh is bringing a stout defense, co-led by former defensive coordinator for West Virginia, Tony Gibson. Gibson’s new defense ranks fourth nationally among defenses and has yet to give up a touchdown in the first two weeks of the season. Coach Brown is well aware of the challenge his Mountaineers will face Saturday afternoon.
“They’re coming off two nine-win seasons in a row and they’ve got the second-most wins in the ACC outside of Clemson. That’s not talked about much, but last two years second-most wins in the Atlantic Coast Conference.”
Leading into this week’s matchup, the head coach is ready to make changes in the team’s lineup, so much so that later in the day Tuesday the team put out a new depth chart, complete with changes.
“I do foresee some big changes in the lineup,” the head coach remarked. “The best way I can tell you is if you continue to put stuff on video that’s not good enough, then the change has to be made. If there’s changes, it means those guys didn’t put enough quality on tape, or they’ve been beaten out.”
Anyone who watched or listened to last Saturday’s loss at Missouri knows that the Mountaineers are going to need to make some changes, especially going into a long line of Big 12 conference play. There are clearly plenty of areas of improvement needed, and Brown is aware. Brown is currently most satisfied with senior offensive lineman Colton McKivitz, pointing out he’s the one the coach is happiest with on the line currently.
“Outside of Colton McKivitz, I’m not real fired up about how any of them are playing,” Brown said Tuesday. Brown went on to point out that it’s not just his O-line, other players have struggled and that the line is the easiest spot to fall blame on. “O-line is easy to pick on. Our running backs, tight ends and receivers have been every bit the issue as the O-line in the run game.”
Brown further went on to discuss Taijh Alston’s season-ending surgery and the return of Leddie Brown for this week’s game against the Wolfpack. Coach Brown has been preaching the idea of trusting the climb, which is proving to be slightly steeper than many had assumed or hoped.
The Mountaineers take on the N.C. State Wolfpack Saturday at noon in Morgantown.