Report by WVU Sports
Photo Credit: Caleb Saunders-WVU Football
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (August 27, 2020) – Lots of situational work was on the menu this afternoon for the West Virginia University football team.
The Mountaineers hit the pause button on practice Wednesday for the first day of the fall semester, but they were back at it for a heavy, two-hour workout at the Steve Antoline Family Practice Field on Thursday afternoon.
Coach Neal Brown said afterward his young team is beginning to get a better feel for the game situationally.
“It’s helpful we’ve had a full crew of officials here on Tuesday and again today. That’s makes a difference just because of the mechanics of the game so I appreciate them being here,” he said. “We got some really good run work in today. Offense was sloppy during the goal line period, and I thought, defensively, we’ve got to finish better in the four-minute period than we did.”
Brown singled out Leddie Brown’s work running the football. The Philadelphia resident continues to perform well since last Saturday’s scrimmage when he was the top ball carrier.
Two of Brown’s better rushing performances last year came toward the end of the season against Kansas State and TCU.
“Leddie Brown ran the ball really hard – and that’s been the case really since Saturday,” Brown said. “I’m kind of excited about him, and the week he’s had. I think it was an important week for him, and he’s been productive.”
Redshirt freshman Tony Mathis Jr. also ran the ball well during goal line situations and seems to have a knack of wiggling through small cracks and getting positive yardage.
He was able to slip through for a couple of goal-line scores today.
“The more reps he gets the better he is,” Brown said. “He’s one of those running backs – and Leddie is a lot like this too – they get better with more carries. He’s doing a better job of keeping his shoulders square.”
Brown liked what he saw from his two corners this afternoon, junior Dreshun Miller on one side and true freshman Daryl Porter Jr. on the other. Those two won the majority of the one-on-one battles with the wide receivers, and Porter once again came up with another pick during goal line drills.
The Fort Lauderdale resident seems to make at least one interception per practice.
“I thought our defensive backs … they’re young and inexperienced, but they have won the battle over our receivers for probably four days in a row now,” Brown said. “(Porter has) been a really solid player for us and our receivers really haven’t answered the bell. It will be interesting to see how the next couple of days go.”
One young receiver who did make a couple of plays during today’s practice was Savannah, Georgia’s Sam Brown. The true freshman got behind the secondary for a 40-yard touchdown hookup from quarterback Austin Kendall, and he also made a couple of long grabs during skeleton drills.
Brown averaged 18.2 yards per reception and scored 11 touchdowns during his senior season at New Hampstead High last fall.
“He shows flashes,” Brown said. “His good is really good but then he’s still trying to figure it out, but he’s got a lot of talent.”
As for the two quarterbacks, Jarret Doege and Austin Kendall, Brown said it was hard to evaluate their performance just coming off the practice field.
“It’s easier to do that watching film,” he said. “I’ll talk more about them on Saturday.”
Brown said Friday will be a light day with more passing game work planned before Saturday’s officiated scrimmage inside the stadium.
“We’re going to get some good work in,” Brown said. “We’ve really put a lot of emphasis on the run game for the last couple of days. We’re going to do some two-minute, end-of-game situations but not be as heavy.
“Obviously it won’t be as physical, but on Saturday we’re going to put the ball down and play a good bit. We’re going to try and get about 45, 50 plays,” he said.
Brown has said he wants to continue to see improvement from his team through next Tuesday’s practice.
“When we started practicing all together a week ago last Friday we were really looking from that date all the way until Tuesday,” he said. “Saturday was physical. Tuesday and today were physical. Saturday will be physical and then another physical practice next Tuesday. That’s really five opportunities in full-pad situations to get good evaluations. That’s kind of our plan and that’s what we’ll do.”
The coach concluded, “I don’t know if you are ever pleased, but I think we are getting better, which is important. But we’ve got a long way to go.
“I’m glad we’ve got some time.”